Wednesday, 23 September 2015


New York's High Line is a 1.6 kilometre linear park built on a disused section of rail line – the elevated West Side Line – running through the lower west side of Manhattan. It was abandoned around the turn of the century and was under threat of being demolished for almost 30 years. But back in 1999 a movement began to save it and get it redeveloped as parkland. The original founders of the Friends of the High Line had walked the abandoned line many times but they really needed a way to harness supporters by showing the raw beauty of the place and the amazing wildscape that it had become over time. So they reached out to Joel Sternfeld, an acclaimed photographer, who set about documenting the high line throughout an entire year. He captured the changing seasons, and his photos became the tools for getting people excited about what the place could be.

Fast forward to now, the power of his photography and the success of community activism have resulted in what is the most successful example of urban renewal anywhere in the world - in 2013 the High Line was named one of the top ten Instagrammed places in the world and it attracts over 4 million visitors per year.

It is a fabulous place, it will cost you nothing, and I rate it as a must see for anyone interested in landscape, architecture or recycling. The views and vistas are beautiful, and with the added advantage of being up high, you can escape the trapped big city feel. It's an urban oasis up there. And something I really love is what it represents - its transformation is an example of the power of the people - ordinary citizens being dedicated to revitalizing an area that almost certainly would have fallen into total urban decay.

Walk it, lie down up there, check out the art, marvel at the design features, appreciate the horticultural and plantings side of things, spot the remnant railway tracks, watch the sunset, catch some summer sun, or just use it to cover the city blocks up higher. You'll cover 20 city blocks in what will feel like only a few minutes. The High Line is a joy for all, and congratulations must go to the people who resurrected the abandoned space and have made it into the spectacular attraction that it is now. Poster child for urban planners the world over!



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