The High line turned 10 this year! Join us as we look back at the history of one of New York’s most cherished parks:
In the mid-1800s 10th Avenue was branded “Death Avenue” because of the numerous accidents caused by freight train crossings on street level traffic. To address this problem, the city created a 13-mile-long elevated railroad, which became known as the High Line. Between 1934 & 1980, the elevated trains transported meat to the Meatpacking District, milk & produce to factories and warehouses on Manhattan’s West Side, as well as mail to the main Post Office on 34th Street. The tracks connected directly to different factories and warehouses, allowing trains to roll right into buildings without causing traffic on the street level.
The original High Line ran from 34th Street (now Hudson Yards) to St. John’s Park Terminal, at Spring Street (now West Village). During the 1960s, the southern section of the tracks were demolished after interstate truck deliveries steadily decreased the need for rail traffic along Manhattan’s West Side. In 1980, the last train ran on the High Line pulling in three carloads of frozen turkeys.
In the mid-1980s, a group of property owners around the High Line tried to convince the city to demolish the entire structure. Local Chelsea residents, activists and railroad enthusiasts fought the demolition efforts in court for several decades. By 1999, a group called Friends of the High Line was founded by Joshua David and Robert Hammond (residents of the High Line neighborhood) to advocate for the High Line’s preservation and reuse as an open public space. After winning a lawsuit challenging the city’s plans for complete demolition of the remaining tracks, the group successfully advocated for the repurposing of the structure and space.
June 9, 2019 marked the 10-year anniversary of the High Line opening to the public. Within a short time, it has become one of the most beloved parks in the city, and is favored by visitors and New Yorkers alike. The park attained almost immediate iconic status. Each part of the 1.5-mile walk through the park gives you a different view of New York from high above: architectural masterpieces, native plants & greenery, art & sculptures, and occasionally, once in a lifetime performances. The park has also become a gallery for watching New Yorkers, who don’t mind being observed while they go on about their lives at home.
The beautiful park, which stretches from the Meatpacking District to the Hudson Rail Yards in Manhattan, is a design collaboration between James Corner Field Operations, Piet Oudolf and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
Happy Birthday, High Line Park!