When the High Line in NYC first launched in 2016, its co-founder and Executive Director Robert Hammond knew that it would be a hit, not just for NYC residents, but for visitors to the Big Apple as well. He also knew that the precedents set for the High Line should be recognized in other cities around the world. After all, the concept was to take antiquated infrastructure – in NYC’s case an abandoned service rail line – and transform it into a pivotal unifying urban park-like component that would bring people out of their dwellings and into the great outdoors.
Since that widely-heralded opening, the emergence of a series of other nonprofit “elevated” parkscapes have emerged, and joined together, to form the High Line Network. Now, Buffalo’s Riverline has been added to the list of 39 like-minded projects, which are considered “equitable spaces for their communities.” Moreover, the Network allows advocates and leaders to share their ideas and strategies among one another.
As for Buffalo’s Riverline, which utilizes the defunct DL&W rail corridor, the Western New York Land Conservancy has set out to establish an important exercise in cultural placemaking. The Corridor runs through a series of ethnically and culturally diverse neighborhoods; this diverse composition of bounding residents will ultimately be the primary faction that utilizes the public resource on a daily basis. Once complete, the Corridor will “connect all people to water, nature, and one another.”
“The Riverline is the next step forward in the redevelopment of Buffalo’s historic waterfront and restoring public access to our waterways,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The railroad industry helped shape Buffalo into an economic powerhouse, and now The Riverline will transform our industrial past to help protect and save our environment for future generations. Congratulations to the Western New York Land Conservancy for The Riverline joining the High Line Network—you are creating a lasting legacy that will soon be a symbol of the new Buffalo.”
Congressman Brian Higgins said, “Under the stewardship of the Western New York Land Conservancy, The Riverline has emerged as a unifying project—bridging together people and nature, our history and future, Buffalo’s neighborhoods and waterfront. Inclusion of The Riverline in the High Line Network builds additional connectivity to premier projects across this country and beyond. We are thrilled to have The Riverline recognized in this way as momentum continues to build on this destination project.”
A full list of all members in the High Line Network can be found at network.thehighline.org/projects. Following are the current members:
- Bergen Arches | Jersey City, NJ The Erie Railroad’s mile-long, under-utilized railroad trench that once served four passenger rails, to be converted into a shared-use nature path on the East Coast Greenway.
- Brickline Greenway | St. Louis, MO A public-private partnership project along the MetroLink Light rail line. Includes 20 miles of accessible paths and will connect St. Louisans’ to their schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and civic and cultural institutions.
- CicLAvia | Los Angeles, CA Vibrant public spaces, active transportation, and good health through car-free streets. CicLAvia engages with people to transform their relationship with their communities and with each other.
- Destination Crenshaw | Los Angeles, CA A 1.3 mile long outdoor art and culture experience celebrating the 200+ years of Black activism in one of the largest Black communities west of the Mississippi River.
- Grand River Corridor | Grand Rapids, MI A waterway and the waterfront revitalization of Michigan’s longest river as it flows through the Grand Rapids community.
- Great River Passage | St. Paul, MN A 1.5-mile promenade connecting a series of cohesive public spaces, civic landmarks and development sites along downtown Saint Paul’s river bluff, creating a vibrant riverfront and stimulating economic development in downtown Saint Paul.
- Hemisfair | San Antonio, TX The 1968 World’s Fair site redeveloped into a series of three parks in the heart of San Antonio.
- India Basin Park | San Francisco, CA A former boat building and repair yard, now a postindustrial brownfield will be remediated to form 1.5 miles of accessible shoreline along the San Francisco Bay linking to the Bay Trail and Blue Greenway and fostering better access to the water.
- Indianapolis Cultural Trail | Indianapolis, IN An 8-mile biking and walking trail connecting all six of Indy’s Cultural Districts, reusing streets, former vehicle travel lanes and parking lanes to be a public and free to all linear park and bike path.
- The Meadoway | Toronto, ON, Canada A hydro corridor in Scarborough transformed into a vibrant 16-kilometer stretch of urban greenspace and meadowlands that will become one of Canada’s largest linear urban parks.
- Memphis Riverfront | Memphis, TN Five connected riverfront park districts of 250 acres of parkland as well as multiple rental and performance facilities.
- La Mexicana Park | Mexico City, Mexico A 28-hectare park built on a former sand quarry known for its technological innovation and sustainable design.
- The Riverline | Buffalo, NY The transformation of the former DL&W rail corridor along the Buffalo River into a vibrant and engaging nature trail everyone can enjoy—right in the city, only minutes from downtown.
- Riverwalk | Milwaukee, WI A continuous network of public riverwalks to open up the waterfront to public use and reconnect the surrounding neighborhoods to the waterways that flow through their communities.
- Town Branch Park | Lexington, KY The transformation of a parking lot into an unprecedented signature park in the heart of downtown Lexington.
“We couldn’t be more excited to see The Riverline become a member of the High Line Network,” said the Land Conservancy’s Executive Director, Nancy Smith. “High Line membership puts The Riverline—and Buffalo—in a continent-wide conversation. Member projects are instrumental in reshaping the landscape of our cities, offering residents wonderful new natural spaces to explore. But an enormous amount of work goes into planning, developing, and funding these projects, and it can be a challenge to find innovative ways to bring each project to life. Although we have plenty of work left to do to make The Riverline a reality, as a High Line Network member we look forward to exchanging ideas, knowledge, and inspiration with our peers from across North America.”
Realizing the importance of social, health, environmental, and economic benefits that are brought about by the creation of these types of projects, an open call was held this spring.
New projects bring new and diverse voices to the Network, including its first member from Mexico and second Canadian project, as well as further diversity across the United States.
“This is such an exciting opportunity for The Riverline and for our extended team,” said The Riverline Project Manager, Anthony Armstrong. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the ongoing time, effort, and commitment that community members continue to dedicate to this project. Being a member of the High Line Network means that we’ll be able to bring additional ideas and energy to The Riverline, and we’ll be able to amplify all we continue to learn working with our neighbors in the Old First Ward, Perry, and Valley neighborhoods as we work to grow an equitable model of community driven, dynamic and welcoming public space.”
The introduction of The Riverline into the Network just happened to coincide with the release of The Riverline Equitable Development Framework (available at theriverline.com), which was put into place to ensure that host neighborhoods benefit from the new infrastructure. By providing these types of restorative amenities to underserved neighborhoods, via an equitable, just, and inclusive process, everyone wins.
“I’m particularly thrilled that our new members bring exceptional experience on equity and equitable development. They will contribute greatly at this critical time to our collective ability to address health, social, and other inequities in the Black and Brown communities many of us serve. The Network will continue to support and challenge members to drive actively towards dismantling the impacts of historic racist policies and systems,” summed up Asima Jansveld, Vice President of the High Line Network.