As snow and ice blanket the city, Friends of the High Line staff members work diligently to clear the park’s pathways, making the park safe for visitors to enjoy the High Line’s unique winter landscape. Our goal is to open the High Line in phases, from south to north, to allow visitors access as quickly and as safely as possible.
To protect the High Line's densely-planted landscape, we avoid the use of rock salt and chemical ice-melt products, which have a toxic effect on plants. Instead, we rely on manual methods of snow and ice removal, using shovels, hand-operated snow blowers, and push-behind snow brooms. The job begins at the Southern Spur, located on the High Line at West 15th Street. The Spur is the heart of our temporary maintenance and operations activities at the High Line, where we store the necessary equipment to keep the park clean and beautiful all year long. Arriving at 5:30 AM, the team rolls out the snow blowers and snow brooms, and focuses on creating a primary path between Gansevoort and West 20th Streets.
Once a primary path is in place in the southern half of the park, the snow blower and snow broom team moves into the northern section of the High Line, between West 20th and West 30th Streets, and begins to clear a primary path. Meanwhile, crews use shovels to widen the pathway and clear gathering spaces for visitors on the High Line, while other staff members work with shovels and snow blowers to clear snow from the High Line’s stairways and elevator landings. Once the access points are safe, we open the High Line between Gansevoort and West 20th Streets, and crews move north to repeat the process at remaining access points.
At 30 feet above the street, the High Line is similar to a bridge, quickly freezing when temperatures fall and making it challenging to prevent and then remove ice as it forms on the park’s pathway. We apply an eco-friendly ice-melt product at all High Line’s access point prior to a storm, and we use shovels to carefully break ice on the park’s pathway without damaging the concrete planks. Assistance from the winter sun and rising temperatures helps melt ice and make the park safe for visitors to enjoy the winter landscape.
With support from REI, Friends of the High Line invites drop-in volunteers to help clear snow and prepare the park to open following snow storms. Learn more.