A Giant Model of the High Line Made by Kids

pipe Carol Levitt's second grade class at the Village Community School used the High Line to study a number of topics this past spring. One element was this structure, which the class constructed as a model of the structure in its current use as a public park.

The High Line is more than place for strolling and enjoying city views—the park's gardens, design, and history are excellent tools for teaching people of all ages. This is especially true for Carol Levitt, a 2nd grade teacher at the Village Community School in the West Village.

Carol saw the High Line as a means of teaching her students about the life-cycle of plants, our city's industrial history, and the importance of community participation. After bringing her students on fields trips with Emily Pinkowitz, our School & Youth Program Manager, Carol's students asked to build a giant model of the High Line in their classroom. Using building blocks, cardboard, construction paper, aluminum foil, plastic, and other found materials, they created a model that takes a look at what the High Line once was, and what it is today.

The students' careful attention to detail shines through in their final result. The model included architectural design features, like the 10th Avenue Square, and prominent neighborhood landmarks near the park, like The Standard Hotel and Pastis. It even featured a garden that used live plants, pebbles, and popsicle-stick railroad tracks to recreate the way the High Line looked when the trains stopped running.

"The children in my group feel as if the High Line somehow belongs to them," Carol says, "They joyfully take their parents, grandparents, and friends of all ages to the High Line and tell them the story. The children followed the approval of the Rail Yards with cheers. How extraordinary that they studied the High Line as it grew and will continue to grow. They see themselves as being the future of the High Line—which they will indeed be."

The photos tell the full story. Follow us after the jump for a tour of their project.

EnlargeBefore the High Line, West Side Cowboys rode ahead of freight
trains on 10th Avenue, warning pedestrians to move out of the
EnlargeConditions on 10th Avenue became so congested and
dangerous that city officials decided to build a structure to lift the
trains off the streets. When it was built in the 1930s, the High
Line transported fresh food, supplies, and manufactured goods
into New York City.
pipe Not long after the High Line was built, trucking took over as the primary means of transporting goods. The last train ran on the High Line in the 1980s, carrying a trainload of frozen turkeys. In the years following, a wild landscape grew on the tracks.
pipe In 1999, two neighborhood residents, Joshua David and Robert Hammond, met at a Community Board meeting where plans to demolish the High Line were being discussed. ''Do you want to save the High Line?'' Joshua asks Robert. ''Great idea,'' he answers. Together, they create Friends of the High Line, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving the High Line and transforming it into a public park.
pipe Joshua David and Robert Hammond asked photographer Joel Sternfeld, pictured here in this painting, to take pictures of the High Line throughout the seasons. Sternfeld's images of the self-seeded landscape on the High Line inspired New Yorkers to help Friends of the High Line save the structure from demolition.
EnlargeFriends of the High Line and the City of New York hired a team
of designers to transform the High Line into a public park.
The design features staircases and elevators to carry
people up onto the old elevated rail lines.
EnlargeThe High Line is a public park like no other, featuring unique
design elements, like peel-up benches and a water feature.
pipe Artists were some of the first supporters of the preservation and transformation of the High Line. Today, the High Line features site-specific public art inspired by the park and its city views. One example is Spencer Finch's The River That Flows Both Ways, a window installation in the Chelsea Market Passage on the High Line. Each panel of glass evokes the a color from photographs of water Finch took while drifting along the Hudson River.
pipe Pictures here is Pastis, the restaurant near the High Line on 9th Avenue, complete with seating, tablecloths, and a notice to customers: "Cooking Room. Employees Only."
pipe The students used building blocks, construction paper, cardboard, and other found materials to construct the model.
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