The High Line Park: Abandoned Railway Re-Purposed

One of my favorite parks to visit in the city is the High Line Park in the chic Meatpacking neighborhood, made internationally famous by Sex and the City, art galleries, couture shops, exclusive clubs and swanky restaurants. (I used the word swanky, hilarious! )
The Meatpacking district is named because in New York during the 1800’s the state’s produce was processed here, the now renovated factories received meat, and produce in this area and it was then distributed to butcher shops and markets. This is also the neighborhood where Nabisco and the Oreo cookie (sorry Hydrox are better) got its start but that’s for another post.
The High Line was a railroad route at the time that was used to bring the meat and dairy in from the farms in the Midwest into the quickly growing NYC, before the advent of cheap trucking and airline travel. So everyday this train would make deliveries, through upstate New York ending at the river’s edge.
This was the case until the last trip in 1980, when the train outlived it usefulness. By 1990 all but a small section of the tracks, a little over a mile, was dismantled.
The High Line was saved from complete demolition in 2000 by two men who had no experience in parks, non profits, or fundraising, but they saw the potential of great open space in the abandoned railway. And because of them, and help of course, we have this park, one of the most visited parks in the city. The High Line isn’t the first railway to be turned into a park, but it is the first to stay elevated and incorporate the existing tracks and switches into the design of the park.

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The way the park is laid out is to use the current architecture into making the aesthetics work, the park was built in the notion that it could always be returned back into a railway. The park itself is elevated thirty feet above ground.

High Line Park entrace at 23rd street in NYC
High Line Park entrance at 23rd street in NYC

So the plants and benches were put into the existing supports. The plants are only sitting in 18 inches of dirt and chosen for their ability to tolerate strong wind and sun.


The plant variety seem to go from thick forest to open plains as you walk, the park narrows down walk ways then opens to spacious plazas.


Due to the fact that you are 30 feet off the ground, street traffic becomes entertainment and perfect perches to see from East to West. I love taking pictures here! Before I forget there are also art installations here too! When you are tired of all that there are restaurants looking out across the water to New Jersey. After the sunsets the park gets even better with, stargazing, lit walkways and benches, also it doubles as a waiting room for the super long waiting lists of at the restaurants below.

 


The video below is from the local television station in New York , WNYE, and the television program titled, Blueprint:New York City talks about the history of the High Line from railroad to visionary park. It’s really interesting about a time gone by and how to keep history in a fast changing city.

If you get to visit New York City, this unique park is something you shouldn’t miss. Do you have a truly special park in your city that you think I should know about? If so let me know in the comments below.

Until our next rendezvous..

Trudy

Rendezvous en New York

  55 comments for “The High Line Park: Abandoned Railway Re-Purposed

  1. July 8, 2015 at 11:09 AM

    If I keep reading your blog and looking at the pictures I’ll never have to go to NYC for myself LOL.

    • July 8, 2015 at 11:12 AM

      NO!!! It’s to tempt you that you have to come!! And you’ll have a list of places to go to besides the traditional. Lol

  2. July 8, 2015 at 1:18 PM

    I loved all your photographs of the High Line Park. I saw it many times from a car and never walked on it. In addition to luring people to the city, you can be the bringer of many happy memories for those of us who used to be there.

    • July 8, 2015 at 1:48 PM

      Thank you Anne! Maybe I can lure you back for a visit too?

      • July 8, 2015 at 11:05 PM

        We’ll drive through for a family birthday party on Long Island at the end of the month. I’ll wave at you.

        • July 8, 2015 at 11:08 PM

          Yay! How far out on the Island? Hope you get to the shore as well! I’ll definitely wave back!

          • July 8, 2015 at 11:24 PM

            Stony Brook. I’ll probably walk by the Sound.

            • July 8, 2015 at 11:28 PM

              Grassy land with rabbits and deer, pretty. That’s awesome, take lots of pictures please!

  3. July 8, 2015 at 7:07 PM

    I love the High Line but I never knew half the facts you outline! Thanks for the NYC lesson and for sharing all these great pictures!

    • July 8, 2015 at 7:10 PM

      I love it too! But then again I love parks period! When I learned about the story behind it, it just made it more special to me. Thanks!

  4. amybovai
    July 9, 2015 at 1:15 AM

    Hi Trudy,
    That park sounds gorgeous! I went to Central Park when I was in New York City back in 2007. We have a small park below my house that I used to take the dog to. We loved it. There is a creek there and I have a wonderful memory of my sister and a picnic with the grandkids. We grew up with this park and though it’s small, we love it. Nothing like the mega glamorous High Line Park of NYC! Thanks for sharing all the information about it. How long will you be there?

    • July 9, 2015 at 1:29 AM

      Thank you Amy. I live in New York and I just like touring and visiting it like a tourist discovering new things to keep me in love with my hometown. I also love writing about things besides the obvious, things that natives like to do here. Not necessarily trendy but that make it enjoyable no matter how small in significance to most, but special to me. I appreciate you stopping by to visit. Come back again please.

    • July 9, 2015 at 1:30 AM

      Also one of the small parks I grew up in was at the beach and it’s my first post on the blog, although it’s mostly pictures.

  5. July 9, 2015 at 1:17 PM

    I’m glad they saved the park. looks fabulous and the restaurants look swanky. 😉

    • July 9, 2015 at 1:27 PM

      Swanky indeed.

  6. July 10, 2015 at 11:40 AM

    Oh I’m so glad I found your blog, I love reading other NYC bloggers!:-) The Highline is one of my favorite places in the city, always something going on, and the stroll never gets old! On hot days it’s fun to dip your feet in the little water area;-)

    • July 10, 2015 at 1:00 PM

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you found me too! You’ve made my day!

    • July 10, 2015 at 9:58 PM

      You’re right that park never gets old.

  7. July 10, 2015 at 10:23 PM

    This is a great descriptive post of the park with wonderful pictures. If I ever visit New York I would certainly want to visit it. You have made it seem very attractive and inviting.

    • July 10, 2015 at 10:30 PM

      Thank you, I hope you do get to visit it. Even with everything going on there it is very peaceful. I’d totally fall asleep on the chaise lounge chairs there. When you visit let me know what you think?

      • July 10, 2015 at 10:34 PM

        I have never been to New York in all of my 63 years and have never traveled in the north eastern part of the country although I have been to Washington D.C. I’ll have to see what I will be able to fit in once I finally make that decision to retire.

        • July 10, 2015 at 10:37 PM

          It’s a big walkable city, I suggest subway and if you ever want suggestions let me know!

          • July 10, 2015 at 11:16 PM

            Thanks. I will do that if/when we decide to travel there.

            • July 10, 2015 at 11:21 PM

              I’ll be here!

  8. July 11, 2015 at 10:40 AM

    Nice post! And one more reason to some day visit your city. I love parks, and tend to seek them out when we travel. There is a nature park with miles of hiking trails right by my house, which I love visiting.

    • July 11, 2015 at 10:47 AM

      Thank you.! I love parks too, I’m always drawn to them and there are so many good ones in New York to explore. This one is special because it’s not in the middle of everything and the recycling of something that outlived it’s usefulness.

      • July 11, 2015 at 10:50 AM

        I really liked the getting the background story of this park. Thanks for doing such a nice job and taking all those great photos.

        • July 11, 2015 at 11:05 AM

          The video on the park was really interesting. I picked an amazing day to go the park to get the last of sunlight, when I go back again I’ll take more from the rest of the park that I didn’t get. I’m glad you liked the pictures.

  9. July 11, 2015 at 3:25 PM

    We really loved walking the High Line when we visited New York and it was fascinating watching the video about its history

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    • July 11, 2015 at 3:41 PM

      I’m glad you got to see it for yourself! And I’m glad that you enjoyed my post, I hope it brought back very good memories. Hope you visit NY and my blog again!

  10. July 13, 2015 at 6:54 PM

    love it, its almost like being there! thank you for sharing! Now someday when I visit I’ll know exactly where to go!

    • July 13, 2015 at 7:13 PM

      Thank you , that’s always my goal with my posts. I want you to make lists of things to do that aren’t filled the same old thing. Hope you get to visit soon!

  11. July 14, 2015 at 8:55 AM

    Great photography! You’ve really got an eye. I think I might be the only one who actually misses the High Line the way it used to be. Finding an entrance, getting up there, finding your way around, trying not to get caught — made it all so very special. It was wild and forgotten (save for all the beer bottles and syringes, but growing up in NY you learn to overlook such things).

    • July 14, 2015 at 9:15 AM

      Well you are definitely one up on me about that. I didn’t know that people regularly visited the inside before it was a public place. And I wasn’t aware of the site at all before then,because I don’t live in Manhattan I never had a reason to go that far east. It truly must have been beautiful in a wild way. Thank you for telling me about your experience with a special place. Do you still live in New York?

      • July 14, 2015 at 10:07 AM

        No, we left a few years ago due to rising costs of rents and job availability. I only got as far as Jersey but the quality and cost of life is much better. I was born in Queens and a child of the 80s/early 90s, so I made my home all over the place. Manhattan is better now in terms of health and safety, yet all the things that made it interesting are being whittled away.

        Have you walked the rail bridge in Forest Hills? It’s still wild, but there’s a movement to turn it into the “High Line of Queens”. I think turning it into an active cross-town rail line or trolley system would better serve the areas it runs through. Queens has tons of greenspace. It doesn’t have an efficient way of getting from Ozone Park to Elmhurst.

        • July 14, 2015 at 10:41 AM

          I live in Queens but don’t visit the North Shore because I have to travel into Manhattan to do it since I no longer have a car and parking doesn’t make that worth it either. Yes I heard there was a vote on whether to bring back the H line, which would be great! I haven’t gone to that site before, thank you for telling me about it. And I try to visit smaller stores because of the #SaveNYC campaign when I can. A lot of interesting things are still here just in culturally different neighborhoods, they haven’t all been gentrified, especially in Queens.

          • July 14, 2015 at 12:59 PM

            I used to live in Sunnyside and was so sad when it started getting “famous” because the rents would go up and we’d lose all the cool things there!

            • July 14, 2015 at 1:09 PM

              I think most are aware of what they can loose and are fighting to keep the neighborhoods around, some development fine but not total regut. And hipsters are moving to Queens to get away from Manhattan so we’ll see how much character they can handle.

  12. July 23, 2015 at 1:05 AM

    What a brilliant park! I had no idea that there were parks converted from railways. Where I live there are a number of 15-m high walkways in downtown between the buildings, but it’s all enclosed. Now that I’ve seen this, I think some outdoor walkways with greenery would make downtown more inviting!

    • July 23, 2015 at 7:22 AM

      It was a great idea right? Another group of developers are trying to do another similar park, underground. I love the idea of making more greenspace out of unused or forgotten areas.

      • July 24, 2015 at 12:02 AM

        An underground park sounds really cool, even more unorthodox than a raised railway park! I agree, it’s such a great way to revitalize and bring new life to these sorts of places.

        • July 24, 2015 at 12:26 AM

          A local program talked about it, they even developed special lighting for it so plants will grow and to light up the space, really innovative!

          • July 25, 2015 at 10:36 AM

            Ah, I was wondering about the lighting for underground! It’s really sounding quite nice!

            • July 25, 2015 at 10:40 AM

              They figured out a way to use fiber optics to feed the sunlight underground, It looks like a tube of light. Then it’s spread on a wok looking dish.

              • July 25, 2015 at 10:43 AM

                Ehhh so that’s how it is. Natural light is so much nicer than artificial (I’ve been spending all my days inside this summer which is a bit saddening considering the weather 🙁 ).

                • July 25, 2015 at 10:46 AM

                  I just wondered what they would do during rain and winter.

                  • July 25, 2015 at 10:52 AM

                    True, that sounds a bit problematic!

                    • July 25, 2015 at 11:14 AM

                      I’m sure the geniuses will handle it . I’m not sure if they have all the funding to begin yet.

                • July 25, 2015 at 10:47 AM

                  You’re not missing much

                  • July 25, 2015 at 10:53 AM

                    Aww, bad weather from the sounds it.

                    • July 25, 2015 at 11:16 AM

                      Not I’m just not a big fan of Summer, I prefer Spring. It’s just too hot for me, I’m delicate, ?!

  13. July 24, 2015 at 1:06 PM

    I love the Highline. i used to live in the West Village (in the 90s before the Highline was redeveloped). It is such a great walk and I love the history you’ve relayed to us about it being built!

    • July 24, 2015 at 1:19 PM

      Yes it has celebrated ten years and been an amazing success. And the final installment opened last year so it’s from Gansevoort to 34th street. It’s really beautiful, that day I didn’t walk the whole way because it was a long day but I’ll takes pictures of that next time.

  14. May 4, 2017 at 2:45 PM

    I visited the HiLine last summer for the first time and loved it! Now that I know a little more of its’ history, thanks to you, I really want to go back!

    • May 4, 2017 at 4:38 PM

      It really is an interesting story and I like that it breaks the perception that we don’t have green space in New York besides Central Park.

What do you think? I would like to know.

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