The High Line is an elevated freight rail line transformed into a public park on Manhattan’s West Side. It is owned by the City of New York, and maintained and operated by Friends of the High Line. In 1847, the City of New York authorized street-level railroad tracks down Manhattan’s West Side.
Yet so many accidents occurred between freight trains and other traffic that 10th Avenue became known as “Death Avenue”. In 1929 the city and the state of New York and the New York Central Railroad agreed on the West Side Improvement Project, which included the High Line. It connected directly to factories and warehouses, allowing trains to roll right inside buildings. Milk, meat, produce, and raw and manufactured goods could be transported and unloaded without disturbing traffic on the streets.
The growth of interstate trucking in the 1950s led to a drop in rail traffic throughout the nation. In the 1960s, the southernmost section of the line was demolished. During the late 1980s, the north end of the High Line was disconnected from the rest of the national railroad system. In the 1990s, as the line lay unused and in disrepair.
In 1999, the non-profit Friends of the High Line, residents of the neighborhood the High Line ran through advocated for the Line’s preservation and reuse as public open space. On June 7, 2011 a ribbon was cut to open the second High Line section from 20th Street to 30th Street, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.The park’s attractions include naturalized plantings that are inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew on the disused tracks and new, often unexpected views of the city and the Hudson River. Pebble-dash concrete walkways unify the trail.Stretches of track and ties recall the High Line’s former use. The High Line has cultural attractions as well as its integrated architecture and plant life. As part of a long-term plan for the park to host temporary installations and performances of various kinds,
Impact of the High Line
The recycling of the railway into an urban park has spurred real estate development in the neighborhoods that lie along the line. Mayor Bloomberg noted that the High Line project has helped by 2009, more than 30 projects were planned or under construction nearby. On the other hand, the real estate boom has its victims as well: many well-established businesses in West Chelsea have closed due to loss of neighborhood customer base or rent increases.