Flashback Friday: Snow Removal on the High Line

Photo by Timothy Schenck

High Line staff work tirelessly to remove snow from the park entrance at West 14th Street.

As New Yorkers prepare to hunker down and cozy up for a Netflix marathon during the upcoming winter storm, Friends of the High Line team members will be hard at work removing snow from the park to create a safe experience for visitors. Since icy conditions may require temporary park closures, stay tuned to thehighline.org and @highlinenyc on Twitter for updates.

Restoring High Line accessibility after a snowfall is its own special challenge since we avoid using rock salt and chemical ice-melt, which can damage our plants. The tools we do use in our winter arsenal include power brooms, snow-throwers and – of course – old-fashioned shovels.

Clearing the stairs is an especially time-consuming task, as the steps are shoveled completely by hand. And keeping the walkways free of ice is a particularly difficult job because the High Line is exposed, much like a bridge, making surface temperatures drop quickly.

"Friends of the High Line Operations staff members work together in a coordinated effort to remove snow and ice from primary pathways," said Martin Nembhard, Vice President of Park Operations for Friends of the High Line. "On snow days, it's all hands on deck as we work from south to north."

The safety of our visitors is our top priority. We block off sections of walkway that have become slippery, and – as a last resort – close areas of the park when walking has become dangerous.

Photo by Timothy Schenck

A High Line staff member utilizes a power broom to push heavy, accumulated snow off the walkway near the 10th Avenue Square.

With wet snow, damage to the plants is a concern. Our gardeners work to minimize the negative impact that heavy snow and ice have on the trees, grasses, and perennials. To avoid breakage of woody plants, gardeners will gently shake trees or knock heavy snow off of tree limbs. Snow banks can flatten perennials, although "sleeping" perennials are actually protected by the insulation offered by snow cover. Overall, the plants on the High Line are hearty and can withstand tricky weather.

Photo by Timothy Schenck

The branches of the High Line's Eastern red cedar trees, Juniperus virginiana, bend under the weight of heavy snow.

Once the snow and ice is clear and the park is safe for visitors, the High Line dressed in white is quite a sight to see. Share your winter photos on social media and tag @highlinenyc and #highlineshow.

All photos by Timothy Schenck.

Original post by Amelia Krales.

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