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Field Trips Allow Students to Travel Back in Time on the High Line

By Emily Pinkowitz | July 1, 2015

High Line Educator Karen Lew Biney-Amissah shares historic documents with field trip visitors.

Guided field trips on the park have long been a highlight and a unique educational opportunity for local students. We’re proud to share that during the past fall and spring seasons, more than 3,800 students from all five boroughs came to the High Line to learn about native ecology, New York City history, and park design. This year, thanks to generous support from The Coca-Cola Foundation, Deutsche Bank, The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, and the New York City Council, we were able to expand our field trip offerings by 50%, welcoming an additional 1,500 students to the park in the 2014-2015 school year.

Below are some of our favorite quotes from teachers, along with photos of the field trips in action.

“Students loved visiting the High Line and exploring plants here. I think they’ll want to return on their own…”
– 4th grade teacher

High Line Educator Hadley Mae Beacham shows students the fruit of the Sumac plant as part of the field trip “Native New York”. Students searched for sumac and other native plants on the High Line, and learned about the way the Lenape Native Americans used native plants for food, clothing, and shelter. Following that, they played a game to understand the importance of native plants for animals today and conducted observations of native plants on the park.

“They were able to ask questions, look at artifacts and explore interesting sides…It made history come alive.”
– 2nd grade teacher

On the “Rivers & Railways” field trip, students used photographs, historic articles, and artifacts to uncover the history of buildings along the West Side of Manhattan. Above, a student examines an artifact connected to one High Line building.

Finally, students used historic photographs to “put the pieces together”. This building was an old meatpacking facility, and the metal bars were the tracks for hanging meat.

“Most of my students had never been here before and I think many will come back. I like how the High Line expands my kids’ ideas of where and what a park can be.”
– 2nd grade teacher

Students on the “Park in the Sky: Designing the High Line” field trip look at Joel Sternfeld’s photograph of the abandoned High Line, and hunt the park for the spot where the shot was taken. After finding the spot, children compared and contrasted: What had changed? What makes a park a park? With this knowledge as a foundation, they walked the park recording design features that reflect the structure’s history, and drew some new park designs of their own.

“Some [students] said they were excited to go back with family and share new knowledge… we loved it and can’t wait to come back next year!”
-2nd grade teacher

Fall field trips begin on the High Line in October. Until then, we hope to see some of these young visitors this summer at our High Line Kids programs!