Frequently Asked Questions
These are some of the most frequent questions asked to our High Line Greeters. Greeters are a special corps of volunteers trained to answer visitor questions, give directions, and offer a friendly welcome on the High Line.
What is the High Line?
The High Line is a public park built on a 1.45-mile-long elevated rail structure running from Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street on Manhattan's West Side.
What was it used for?
The High Line was a freight rail line, in operation from 1934 to 1980. It carried meat to the meatpacking district, agricultural goods to the factories and warehouses of the industrial West Side, and mail to the Post Office.
Who owns the High Line?
The High Line is owned by the City of New York and is under the jurisdiction of the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation. It was donated to the City by CSX Transportation, Inc.
The land beneath the High Line is owned in parcels by New York State, New York City, and more than 20 private property owners.
FRIENDS OF THE HIGH LINE
What is Friends of the High Line?
Friends of the High Line is a non-profit organization working to build and maintain an extraordinary public park on the High Line. We seek to preserve the entire historic structure, transforming an essential piece of New York's industrial past. We provide over 90 percent of the High Line's annual operating budget and are responsible for maintenance of the park, pursuant to a license agreement with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Through stewardship, innovative design and programming, and excellence in operations, we cultivate a vibrant community around the High Line.
Why preserve and reuse the High Line?
The High Line is a monument to the industrial history of New York's West Side. It offers an opportunity to create an innovative new public space, raised above the city streets, with views of the Hudson River and the city skyline. It also offers a hopeful model for industrial reuse for other cities around the world.
How was the High Line saved from demolition?
Friends of the High Line was founded in 1999 by two neighborhood residents, Joshua David and Robert Hammond, when the High Line was under threat of demolition. Friends of the High Line successfully worked with the administration of Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Council to reverse a City policy favoring demolition. The High Line is preserved through a Federal mechanism called rail-banking in which preserves transportation corridors and allows them to be used as trails.
Why didn't we just leave the landscape that grew on the High Line after trains stopped running?
After Friends of the High Line, in partnership with the City, was successful in saving the structure, an environmental survey found that removal of everything on the High Line down to the steel and concrete structure was necessary. In order to safely accommodate the public, the High Line was redesigned into the safe public space it is today.
ABOUT THE PARK
When did it open to the public?
Section 1 of the High Line (Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street) opened in June, 2009. Section 2 (West 20th Street to West 30th Street) opened June 8, 2011.
Has a rail-trail atop an elevated structure been created before?
The city of Paris successfully converted a similar rail viaduct into an elevated park called the Promenade Plantée. Projects similar to the High Line are in early stages in St. Louis, Philadelphia, Jersey City, Chicago, and Rotterdam.
What is the construction process like?
Construction on the first section of the High Line began in 2006. The construction process is broken into 3 phases. The first phase is to remove all existing surface material on the structure, including gravel ballast, soil, debris and a layer of concrete, down to the steel and concrete structure. After removals, repairs to the steel and concrete are made, new drainage and waterproofing installed, and all steel surfaces of the High Line structure are sandblasted to remove the original lead paint. The final phase in the High Line's transition to a public park was the construction of the park landscape. For a more detailed account of the park's construction process please visit Design Construction.
What will happen to the High Line at the West Side Rail Yards?
While the High Line's use as a park is secure below West 30th Street, the future of the northernmost section, around the West Side Rail Yards, depends upon plans now being developed by the State-run MTA and the Related Companies, a private developer. This section of the High Line (West 30th Street to West 34th Street) makes up about one-third of the Line. Here, the structure might be fully preserved, altered, or removed. For more information on our Rail Yards advocacy, please visit High Line at the West Side Rail Yards.
HIGH LINE DESIGN
Who designed the High Line?
In fall 2004, FHL and the City of New York jointly selected a design team for the High Line through a six-month design competition. The team of James Corner Field Operations, a landscape architecture firm, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, an architecture firm, includes planting designer Piet Oudolf and experts in the fields of horticulture, engineering, lighting, public art, cost estimating, maintenance planning, security, and other relevant disciplines.
Is the High Line structurally sound?
Yes. It was built to hold two loaded freight trains, and it is still in very good shape. As part of construction, the structure was fully rehabilitated, including concrete repair, repainting, and drainage improvements, prior to its conversion to public open space.
What happened to the tracks?
Before construction began, all the rails were surveyed, tagged and stored at the northern end of the High Line. Many are reincorporated into the landscape as part of the design.
How is the High Line’s design different from other parks?
The public space blends plant life (reminiscent of the quiet contemplative nature of the self-seeded landscape and wild plantings that once grew on the unused High Line) with long, narrow "planks," forming a smooth, linear, virtually seamless walking surface. The public environment on the High Line contain special features, including a water feature, viewing platforms, a sundeck, and gathering areas to be used for performances, art exhibitions and educational programs. For more information on the High Line's design, visit the Design section of our Web site.
ON THE HIGH LINE
What are the park hours?
Park hours vary seasonally. Please visit our Park Information page for more information about our current schedule. The High Line is equipped with an innovative lighting design, so that the park can remain open in the evening.
Where are the restrooms located?
Restrooms are located at the 16th Street access point on the High Line.
Where are the water fountains?
Water fountains are located on the High Line near the Gansevoort Street, 16th Street, 18th Street, 23rd Street, and 30th Street access points.
Does the High Line meet standards established by the Americans with Disabilities Act?
Yes. The entire High Line is wheelchair accessible.
Where are the park's entrances?
Access points are located at Gansevoort Street, 14th Street, 16th Street, 18th Street, 20th Street, 23rd Street, 26th Street, 28th Street, and 30th Street. Elevators are located at 14th Street, 16th Street, and 30th Street.
How do you enforce rules?
Safety and security are designed into the public space and into its daily operations. There are security officers walking the High Line at all times, who do sweeps when the park closes and then lock all access points. Access points are securely locked, well-lit, and monitored when the public space is closed.
Why are dogs not allowed?
The park's planking system was designed to use direct rainwater runoff towards the planting beds. This means that dog urine, even if it falls on the path and not into the plantings, ends up in the soil. Dog urine is highly acidic, and dangerous to the roots of plants. In addition, the High Line, while very long, is also very narrow, and pets on leashes would overcrowd the paths on the High Line.
Is there an area where you can walk in the grass?
In Section 1, all planting beds are off-limits for walking. In Section 2, there is a lawn area where the public is free to walk, play, and picnic.
Can I play catch on the High Line?
No. The rules prohibit throwing or moving objects of any kind—Frisbees, balls, or any other items—as these might endanger visitors and the public on the street.
How do I know who works on the High Line?
Friends of the High Line Staff and volunteers wear clothing identified by the High Line logo and/or identification badges.
What kind of events are there on the High Line?
Check out our calendar of free and low-cost public events both on and off the High Line. Tours, lectures, performances, and events for the whole family will highlight the High Line's design, gardens, history, public art projects, and more. To register, please visit our Event Calendar.
HIGH LINE GARDENS
What was growing here before?
Self-seeded grass, trees and other plants grew on the out-of-use elevated rail tracks during the 25 years after the trains stopped running. For photos of the High Line during its time without usage, please visit our Image Galleries.
How many plants are native to New York?
161 out of the 210 plant species in the design of Section 1 of the High Line are native to New York. For more information about plants on the High Line, please see our Planting section.
How are the plants watered?
The High Line's green roof system is designed to allow the plants to retain as much water as possible. In addition, there is an irrigation system installed with options for both automatic and manual watering. This system will be particularly important in the first few years as the plants establish themselves, but less necessary over time.
How is the High Line sustainable?
The High Line is inherently a green structure. It re-purposes of a piece of industrial infrastructure as public green space. The High Line landscape functions essentially like a green roof; porous pathways contain open joints, so water can drain between planks and water adjacent planting beds, cutting down on the amount of storm-water than runs off the site into the sewer system. For more info on the High Line's sustainability efforts, please visit our Sustainability Page.
HOW DO I:
Get involved with Friends of the High Line?
FHL is committed to engaging the High Line community and all interested New Yorkers in plans for the High Line's design, reconstruction, programming, and daily operations. To stay informed about public events and meetings, become a member, volunteer, or donate, subscribe to FHL's Email Newsletter.
Go on a guided walking tour?
Regularly scheduled public walking tours take place during the summer, fall, and spring. Due to the narrow width of pathways on the High Line, tour groups must be smaller than 20 attendees. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. To view upcoming tours or to book a spot, please visit our Event Calendar.
If you are interested in scheduling a tour for a group, information is available on the Tours section of our Web site.
Hold a party or other event on the High Line?
To request more information regarding a private event or corporate activation on the High Line, please complete the event inquiry form. For specific questions about High Line events, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hold a photo or film shoot on the High Line?
Please email us at email@example.com with details about your project.