In June of 2019, Manhattan’s West Side saw the completion of the work of 10 long years, incorporating architecture with more than 150 years of history. It was a sunny day for Manhattan on the 5th, and to elevated applause and fanfare, the High Line opened the Spur, the third and final leg of its original construction plans, and this unique parks project has at last taken full form.
The High Line—A Vestige of Old Industrial New York, Transformed
The High Line’s history begins well before ground broke 10 years ago. The park itself sits atop the New York Central Railroad spur in the west side of Manhattan, once slated for demolition after the use of trains saw a steady decline in the 1980’s. In the late 1990’s, founders Robert Hammond and Joshua David spearheaded campaigns to save the structures and refit them for public use. Their vision was a bold one: An “unbroken,” elevated line spreading through 22 blocks of the city, “connecting three neighborhoods—the convention center area, West Chelsea[,] and the Meatpacking District,” transformed into a floating park with trees, grass, and flowers, reminiscent of the Promenade Plantée in Paris.
Once approved, its redesign came from the combined efforts of:
- Landscape Architect James Corner as the project lead;
- Diller Scofidio + Renfro, a design firm known for incorporating visual and performing arts with architecture; and
- Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf.
This collaboration pulled in the artistry of multiple disciplines to create a unique and environmentally friendly addition to Manhattan’s diverse map. With its completion, we see the New York City landscape take another confident step into the future with entertainment and architecture that is current, green, and authentically Manhattan in flavor.
What Makes the High Line Different from Other Parks?
The High Line is an unusual way to experience the Manhattan skyline for visitors, from a vantage point that citizens and visitors alike lost access to when the trains stopped running in the 1980’s. It features:
- An elevated park and rail trail, stretching the length of the old New York Central Railroad spur;
- A man-made greenway, which is urban land deliberately left undeveloped to preserve recreation space and the environment;
- Pedestrian access via stairs, elevators, and escalators; and
- With the completion of the Spur, space for art installations.
The Unique Features of the Spur
The Spur was built in two parts, with part one seeing completion in 2014, but its final section has been awaited with anticipation. This part of the park features the High Line’s characteristic urban garden aesthetic with several additions that make it a stand-out addition to the park and the cherry on top of the sundae:
- It boasts the largest gardens of all three sections currently open.
- Its Coach Passage features 60-ft cathedral ceilings, where the Spur connects to Hudson Yards, the most extensive private real estate development in the country.
- The Piazza features “panoramic views” of the lengths of 10th Avenue and 30th street.
- Finally, the Plinth will be a space for showcasing new art, scheduled to rotate every 18 months and will first feature Simone Leigh’s Brick House, according to the High Line’s blog.