Serendipity ? sometimes, beautiful things are created accidentally. This is exactly the case for the High Line which is an elevated park spanning 2.23 kilometers or 1.45 miles. With an elevation of 9 meters of 30 feet, the park was constructed during the 1930s and was meant to be an elevated railway along Manhattan?s West Side.
An initial railroad was built in the west side of Manhattan called the West Side Line during the 1860s when the population in the said area was very small. However, when the 1930s hit, the area became heavily populated that the vehicle traffic dramatically increased making the railroad a safety hazard. To address the concern, a section of the park measuring a mile and a half spanning twenty-two blocks begging from Gansevoort Street up to 34th Street was raised 9 meters of 30 feet which was eventually called the High Line. The railroad primarily catered to freight trains which can go directly into the storage warehouses in Chelsea and the Meatpacking districts.
Railroad operations ceased in 1980 and the tracks began to deteriorate. Wild vegetation also started to grow and cover the railway. A proposal to demolish High Line was put forward in the latter years of the 1990s. This was countered by an organization of local residents with an idea to convert the tracks into a park like the Promenade Plantee in Paris. The group triumphed in reversing the demolition order and was successful in rallying the city of New York to back their plan of building a ?park in the sky.?
The transformation of High Line into a park began in 2006 lead by landscape architectural firm James Corner Field Operations and architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The first part of the park spanning from Gansevoort Street, Meatpacking District ending in Chelsea?s 20th Street debuted in June 2009 while the second segment opened in 2011.
Today, the High Line is an elevated greenery that can be accessed via stairs or elevators found on every two blocks of the park. Visitors of the park can enjoy a scenic and tranquil walk along this three-level, lengthy park above the bustling Manhattan traffic. Because the buildings around the park are relatively low-rise, the park offers a panoramic view of the Manhattan West Side.
Several elements in the landscape of High Line allude to its past as a vital railroad track. Lengthy remnants of the steel railroad are still intact. There are also concrete blocks carved in the shape of rails. The park also traverses buildings where freight trains formerly stop to unload cargoes.
High Line features a central trail with flower beds. Wild grasses which took over the railroad when it became obsolete is an often scene in the park. Visitors can relax on the numerous benches. There is also a succession of steps offering a bird?s eye view of 10th Avenue.