The High Line Park: Abandoned Railway Re-Purposed

The High Line Park at Sunset, NYC

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 every day 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 its 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 the 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 on the notion that it could always be returned back into a railway. The park itself is elevated thirty feet above the 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 seems to go from thick forest to open plains as you walk, the park narrows down walkways 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 a 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

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55 thoughts on “The High Line Park: Abandoned Railway Re-Purposed

  1. 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.

    1. 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!

  2. 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?

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  3. 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;-)

  4. 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.

    1. 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?

      1. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

        1. 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.

    1. 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!

    1. 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!

  6. 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).

    1. 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?

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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!

            1. 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.

  7. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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!

            1. 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.

              1. 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 πŸ™ ).

  8. 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!

    1. 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.

    1. 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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