People & Places

Project Gives Forgotten NYC Rail Line New, Lush Life

Listen to this story... by  


The High Line park project stretches from 34th Street to Gansevoort Street on Manhattan's West Side. Joel Sternfeld © 2000

Gansevoort Street entry, looking west
Created by Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Architects' rendering of the Gansevoort Street entry, looking west. Courtesy The City of New York © 2004

High Line landscape
Created by Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Architects' rendering of the High Line landscape. Courtesy The City of New York © 2004


The High Line Online

This site offers a history of the High Line, design images, slideshows, maps and more.


All Things Considered, April 10, 2006 · In New York City, construction has begun on one of the most unusual and innovative parks in the nation. The High Line is an abandoned railroad overpass that spans 22 blocks on Manhattan's West Side and will become the nation's first elevated park.

The project will transform the rusting, forgotten structure into an urban promenade of lush parkland. It will run a mile and half through the city -- from Greenwich Village to Midtown Manhattan -- and hover three stories above the street.

On top of the elevated rail line, the sky opens up and the sounds of the city drop away. The rails are overgrown in sections with wild grasses and trees.

At Monday's groundbreaking ceremony, many politicians stepped forward to take credit for creating the new park. But in reality, the city nearly condemned the structure and tore it down -- until two community activists saved it.

Seven years ago, Joshua David and Robert Hammond lived in the West Side industrial neighborhood and developed a fondness for the rusting overpass. When they discovered it was doomed, they began lobbying and organizing.

Eventually, David's and Hammond's Friends of the High Line organization encouraged the city to purchase the abandoned rail line. It hosted a design competition to come up with a final look for the park.

That vision is still a couple of years away from completion. Construction workers have begun the process of shoring up the old rusting structure and tearing out the rails; they say they can already see how impressive the park will be.

It had better be. The promise of the elevated park is fueling a real-estate boom in the area. The Westside neighborhood already has a nickname: the High Line.


Related NPR Stories



E-mail this pagePrint this pageGet a transcript of this story


StoryCorps logo

America Talks

The StoryCorps oral history project roves the country to collect stories.

PBS logo

Print Page Sponsored by: