In case you missed it, last month Travel + Leisure named the High Line as No. 10 on its list of the world’s most popular landmarks.
It sounds crazy to us – that in the three short years since the first section of the park opened to the public, the High Line has already become a worldwide destination. What began as a wild idea at a community board meeting more than 12 years ago, with two strangers joining together to advocate for the preservation of an abandoned, elevated freight rail line, is now an extraordinary public park recognized among the likes of renowned icons like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Millions of people are visiting each year, making the High Line the most visited park per acre in the city. In 2011, the High Line welcomed more than 3.7 million visitors – that’s almost double what we saw in 2010. According to recent visitor surveys, nearly 50 percent of the High Line’s visitors are New Yorkers, while the remaining half is split between American and foreign visitors.
We are delighted that the High Line has received so much praise and attention, and we are also humbled by the implications. The High Line’s success is helping attract visitors to New York City and to local businesses, and tourism dollars generate important tax revenue to support local government services. But there’s a downside to the park’s popularity – anyone who has visited the High Line on a warm sunny day knows that the park can be very crowded.
Our challenge is to figure out how to sustain the park as a special place for New Yorkers, and we are actively working toward this goal. We are exploring ways to make it easier for New Yorkers to know when visitation is at its peak, such as live web cams, Twitter updates, and more. We regularly update the community on park happenings and ask neighbors to share their ideas for public events. We run field trip and education programs to instill a sense of park ownership among our youngest neighbors. We design public programs for New Yorkers by asking local teens to help curate our film screenings, scheduling tours and talks at convenient times for students and professionals, and creating meaningful volunteer opportunities to build local stewardship of the High Line.
We know there is more that we can do, and we would love to hear your feedback. Share your ideas by sending an email firstname.lastname@example.org.