The High Line Soars to New, Green Heights

by Beth Hurtubise

New York City, and many others urban areas like it, is jam packed with residences, shops, restaurants and offices. There isn’t much room for a natural, green settings, so when a space opens up, urban planners make the most of it.

The High Line was created in that vein. It’s a park path atop an elevated rail structure on Manhattan’s West Side. Part two of the High Line recently opened, so the outdoor area now stretches from Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street – a full mile. Once the third and final section of the park is complete, the path will stretch 1.45 miles.

The structure is inherently green, since it repurposed an old, unused structure, but it goes many steps further to support green building and sustainability. These steps include porous pathways that allow rain waters to more evenly disperse into planted areas instead of running into sewers, materials (concrete in the planks, steel, wood and more) chosen specifically for their long life-cycle, energy-efficient LED lighting, and sourced materials from within a 100-mile radius whenever possible.

Highlights of the public park include grasses, plants and trees lining the walkway; a full lawn to sit on or walk through; day beds to soak up some Vitamin D; stadium seating to look out over the streets of New York; an undergrowth area with more dense flora; functional sculptures such as the bird feeder statue and the A Bell For Every Minute clock installation that uses bell tones recorded all over New York City; and countless opportunities for socializing and people watching.

According to the High Line website, this is one of the first parks of its kind and the brains behind the operation hope the High Line serves as a model for industrial reuse in other cities throughout the world.

Here is what the public is saying about the High Line (via Twitter):

@TinckrWithAmik …I srsly feel High Line might end up being one of the best contemporary public park projects in the world.

@Ryspeak This High Line expansion is AMAZING!!!!!!

@anniefitz High Line part two is awesome-will be fun to see how it transforms the area

@mmcgovern the second phase of the @highlinenyc – a 10 block stretch of gorgeousness.

@megadox What a great way to green up a city! New York’s High Line public park

@NewStartMag New York’s High Line project shows the power of community in the preservation of green space

Sure, the elevated park is environmentally friendly and will improve the community, but I, for one, enjoy and support the project for its most immediate benefits. It’s a peaceful place to enjoy a sunny day and take in city views from an interesting, new perspective. My favorite spot for taking in scenery and people watching is on one of the massive, wooden daybeds. They are popular seating areas, so it’s best to get there early on the weekend day or during daytime work hours on a weekday. Also, keep in mind that this park path isn’t usually an appropriate place for running, or even power walking. It can get pretty crowded up there on evenings and weekends. If you’re in the area, be sure to check it out for yourself. Words, and even pictures, can’t quite describe the actual experience.

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