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Back to the Future of the High Line

By Erika Harvey | October 21, 2015

We officially live in the future! Well, at least the future depicted in Back to the Future Part II. In the second installment of the popular 80s and early 90s trilogy, protagonist Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to the future, to today to be exact, October 21, 2015, at 4:29 PM.

While gravity-defying hover boards haven’t broken onto the market yet, there are a few “predictions” that have come true, including Google Glass, athleisure wear, Facetime/Skype-like phone call interfaces, and urban reuse projects like the High Line. (Thanks for the shout-out, Back to the Future writer Bob Gale!)

To celebrate this hallowed holiday, Back to the Future Day, we’d like to look back into the future once imagined for the High Line. In 2003, Friends of the High Line asked the public to envision the future of the then-abandoned and overgrown railway running through Manhattan’s West Side in an open “ideas competition.”

The ideas 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.

Enjoy a few of our favorite picks from the competition below. Gondola along the High Line, anyone?