The High Line railway was originally designed to bring shipments straight from the Hudson to manufacturing warehouses in Manhattan. The train cars could run packages from wharves to upper-level floors of these industrial buildings without having to obstruct street traffic or be carried up several stories manually (freight elevators weren’t a common sight in the 1930s, whether for safety, efficiency, or invention reasons I don’t know).
In 1980 the High Line trains stopped running, and construction of the new park design started in 2006 (after seven years of planning). The first section opened to the public in 2009, and the second section in 2011.
I first heard of the High Line Park this summer, while doing some browsing about the city online. I was immediately struck by the ingenuity of converting what had once been industrial space to a public good that promoted health, in effect recycling what had been a useless piece of infrastructure for the past three decades into a beneficial and creative green area.
I went for a walk on the High Line this afternoon, and wasn’t surprised to find that it was an amazing place, providing a respite from the streets of western Manhattan below. A great design with very original features, the High Line would be a great model for other cities with areas similarly rendered obsolete: not only does it generate tax revenue as a public space, but it also clearly is loved by New Yorkers and tourists alike.