Ideas for Reclaiming 1.5 Miles of Manhattan

What is the High Line?
The High Line, a 1.5-mile-long elevated rail structure on Manhattan's West Side, was constructed in the 1930s as part of one of New York City's largest investments in transportation infrastructure, called the West Side Improvement Project. No trains have run on it in over 20 years. A lush urban wilderness, nearly seven acres in total, has seeded itself on the High Line's tracks.

What is the Vision?
Picture a hidden walkway lifted 30 feet above the streets on massive steel columns studded with rivets. On it you travel down Manhattan's West Side, overlooking the Hudson River, with views to the midtown skyline. It connects the Hudson River Park to the convention center to a new transit center to the new Penn Station. It carries you through West Chelsea, into the Meat Packing District. It is the future, and it is built on our past.

Saving the High Line
At one time a small group of real estate owners argued to tear the High Line down. But in 1999 neighborhood residents founded Friends of the High Line, a non-profit organization, with the mission of converting the structure to an elevated public space-a greenway or promenade. After three years of planning, advocacy, and legal work by Friends of the High Line, the Bloomberg administration was convinced: the High Line will be a compelling public environment and will stimulate economic growth. In December 2002, the City of New York took the first step in converting the High Line to a walkway through federal rails-to-trails legislation.

What will the High Line Ultimately Look Like?
In early 2003, Friends of the High Line launched a design competition to bring as many ideas as possible to the table. It was an "open" competition, which means anyone could enter, from anywhere in the world. It was an "ideas" competition, which means that the "winning" designs will not necessarily be built. Instead, the designs created by 720 entrants from 36 countries will lead to lively public debate about the ways to make the High Line as beautiful, vibrant, and original as the finest public spaces in the world.

Will the Winning Entries be Built as Proposed?
No. Because "Designing the High Line" was an "ideas" competition, its objective was to catalyze the development of truly original designs-but those designs did not necessarily have to be realistic or practical. Rather, they were meant to provoke public debate about what's best for the High Line and to make the ultimate selection of a design team a more creative process. The jury selected "winning" proposals that they felt, through the designs' ambition and originality, embodied the extraordinary range of possibilities that exists for the High Line's future.

From the 720 entries the jury awarded four designs monetary prizes of $2,000 apiece. Two special prizes were awarded: the JCDecaux Access Award, to the team whose design best addressed the issue of access; and the Lady Bird Wildflower Center Award, to the team whose design best incorporated the use of native plants and wildflowers. In addition there were 10 honorable mentions and 65 jury selections. We hope you will spend some time with this astounding assortment of creative visions and share your opinions about the ones you like best.

What are the Next Steps?
Friends of the High Line will hold an open workshop with members of the community in the Fall 2003, with a selection of the competition proposals serving as springboards for discussion. At the end of 2003, Friends of the High Line will incorporate the community's comments into a Request for Proposals, which will lead to the selection of a design team and the development of realizable designs. At the same time, Friends of the High Line will be working with the City of New York to ensure that a successful trail-use agreement is negotiated with CSX, the railroad that owns the High Line.

Share your thoughts and suggestions about the entries with us. What do you like? What don't you like? What other good ideas are missing? Please refer to entries by their entry number and designer name.

E-Mail comments to:

What to Get Involved or Stay Informed?
If you would like to attend the community workshop or stay informed about the High Line project, please sign up for our e-mail newsletters on the home page of our Web site located at: Not since Central Park was built 150 years ago has New York City had such a revolutionary opportunity to transform itself through the creation of a unique new public space. We want you—and we need you—to be a part of it.

Friends of The High Line E-Mail Sign-Up Sponsors Help/FAQ Credits