In New York City an organisation called “Friends of the High Line” are in the process of converting a previously abandoned freight viaduct that runs along the lower west side of Manhattan from a ‘lost space’ to a new elevated park reserved for pedestrians. The idea is not new, there is currently another elevated park in Paris called The Promenade Plantée. The project is designed to increase the available parkland in the city by turning what some have considered a blight into a unique advantage, looking through some past entries about this online it is clear that there was much debate and a serious push to have the whole structure removed. Link I for one am happy that the friends of the high line have been successful in getting the go ahead to convert the structure to an urban promenade. Unique parks and themaintenance of structures of historical significance is a big plus to me.
Structures like this begin to make us relate to the city in further levels, most people are only used to considering a city from the ground level, sure we have subways and underground structures, and sky walks in some urban areas but most don’t really consider them when thinking of the strata of an area. Subways are underground and you don’t really see anything so its easy to have no awareness of the city that you pass through on your way between your usual stations and sky walks tend to insulate us from the city by being too much like the interior of the buildings they connect. Elevated walkways like thePromenade and the future high line allow us to experience the city from above while still being in contact with its sights and smells, I have a feeling that once completed this project will become a valued part of the neighbourhoods it connects.
The High line has a specific vision;
Friends of the High Line believes the historic High Line rail structure offers New Yorkers the opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind recreational amenity: a grand, public promenade that can be enjoyed by all residents and visitors in New York City. When the High Line is converted to public open space, you will be able to rise up from the streets and step into a place apart, tranquil and green. You will see the Hudson River, the Manhattan skyline, and secret gardens inside city blocks as you’ve never seen them before. You will move between Penn Station and the Hudson River Park, from the convention center to the Gansevoort Market Historic District, without meeting a car or truck. The High Line will be a promenade—a linear public place where you will see and be seen. You will sense New York’s industrial past in the rivets and girders. You will perceive the future unrolling before you in an artfully designed environment of unprecedented innovation. It will be yours—public in the truest sense of the word. Public dollars helped build it in the 1930s. Public legislation empowers us to make it a place anyone can visit. It will be proof New York City no longer casts aside its priceless transportation infrastructure but instead creates bold new uses for these monuments to human power and ambition. source
There is a great collection of pictures of the high line in its current state here