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Photo by Jackson Hill Photography

VIDEO: Beyond the High Line: Transforming New Orleans

By Kate Lindquist | October 25, 2012

Plans are in the works to turn New Orleans’ Lafitte Corridor into public open space.Jackson Hill Photography

Leaders and thinkers in Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and other cities are pioneering adaptive reuse projects, and they’re pointing to the High Line as an example of how to make it work.

Some call them copycat projects, but their approach is more nuanced. They are taking inspiration from the unique context and history in their own neighborhoods and finding ways to use it to their advantage as they reinvent and open old infrastructure and out-of-use spaces to the public.

You can find good examples of this type of creative thinking in New Orleans, where designers, grassroots organizations, and civic leaders are joining together to pursue new green adaptive reuse projects that coexist with water.

Follow us after to watch the video and view photos from a talk on the High Line earlier this month about the Crescent City.

As seen in the picture above, the Lafitte Corridor is a disused three-mile-long right-of-way that runs along an old canal and active railroad between the French Quarter and Bayou St. John. Advocates have long called for its transformation into public open space, but it was not until the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that the Lafitte Corridor jumped to the forefront of land-use planning discussions.

With broad support from local government, activists, and community organizations, the proposed transformation is now seen as a potential catalyst for the recovery of the city’s flood-damaged neighborhoods. Construction on the first project within the Corridor – three-mile-long pedestrian and bicycle trail – is currently underway, thanks to Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s commitment to the project and a $7.6 million Disaster Recovery Community Development Grant. The plan includes small-scale design interventions like rain-water harvesting, permeable pavement, green alleys, and rain gardens that aim to produce a high return on investment by localizing response to storm water management.


At this month’s talk, the Honorable Senator Mary Landrieu joined Jeff Herbert, from the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, and David Waggonner, from Waggonner & Ball Architects to present the city’s plans and answer questions from the audience. If you missed the talk, you can now watch the video online.

We would like to thank our New Orleans colleagues for joining us in New York City, and turning the High Line into a forum to present their ideas and talk about their land use projects. We would also like to thank our partners, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and The Trust for Public Land, for helping us present this season’s Beyond the High Line series of talks, as well as Curbed for its media sponsorship.

Beyond the High Line will continue next spring. We’ll be announcing the dates, times, and locations soon. To get updates, sign up for the High Line Email Newsletter, like the High Line on Facebook, and follow @highlinenyc on Twitter.