In 2003, Friends of the High Line launched an open "ideas competition," soliciting ideas for transforming the then still abandoned and overgrown High Line into a public space. The competition received 720 entries from 36 countries, from people of all walks of life. The purpose of the competition was not necessarily to find realistic or practical design solutions, but rather to provoke public debate about what was best for the High Line and to make the ultimate selection of a design team a more creative process. Entries included a variety of fantastical gardens and even a roller coaster. In July of 2003, the entries were exhibited for the public in Grand Central's Vanderbilt Hall.
The jury selected "winning" proposals that they felt, through the designs' ambition and originality, embodied the extraordinary range of possibilities that existed for the High Line's future. One of the winning entries, by Nathalie Rinne from Austria, envisioned the High Line as a mile-and-a-half long swimming pool. While we can't imagine the work necessary to maintain an outdoor pool of that magnitude, to this day we still love the idea.