The High Line in New York City is open, drawing large crowds to a once sleepy section of the west side and earning rave reviews. The 1.45 mile former elevated rail line, abandoned since 1980, was transformed into an innovative public park and promenade thirty feet over the streets of Manhattan. It doesn't disappoint.
From Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 20th Street, the first section of the linear green space opened in June 2009 with views of the Hudson River and city skyline. It has been a runaway success. An estimated two million people have experienced the High Line, a mix of locals and camera-toting tourists.
Friends of the High Line, a community-based non-profit group, formed in 1999 when the relic was under threat of demolition. Friends of the High Line worked in partnership with the City of New York to preserve, fund the park's creation, and maintain the structure as a public amenity.
Construction of stairs, ramps, elevators, and installing drainage, paths, an amphitheater, hundreds of plant species, seating, and LED lighting in the first phase cost $86 million, a mix of public and private funding. 161 out of the 210 plant species in the design of the High Line are native to New York.
From Travel + Leisure magazine which called the High Line a "must see green American landmark":
The sculpted concrete walkways lined with meadow grasses aren't particularly high-tech or avant-garde, but there is something absolutely of-the-moment about the patchwork of old and new, man-made and organic. Here's a hulking, disused piece of our industrial heritage, rescued from demolition and reinvented as a work of contemporary design--design in which nature is seamlessly integrated into the architecture. It all makes for a surprising yet coherent whole: the High Line offers as good an indication as any of the shape and texture of the 21st century: recycled, green, and chic.
When the High Line was built in the 1930s, the neighborhood was predominantly industrial. Now many of the warehouses and factories have been converted to art galleries, studios, stores, restaurants, and residences. New construction has followed.
Since a June 2005 rezoning, the area surrounding the park has seen a boom in new development, much of it cutting-edge architecture including buildings designed by 'starchitects' Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel. An estimated $900 million worth of offices, hotels and residential space is in various stages of development. The new Standard Hotel straddles the park.
The next section, due to open in 2010, will extend the park to 30th Street at a cost of $66 million. Eventually, the park will reach 34th Street, nearly 1.5 miles long, 30 to 60 feet wide, and covering eight acres.
Other cities including St. Louis, Philadelphia, Jersey City, Chicago, and Rotterdam are looking to copy New York's success by turning industrial relics into community public spaces.