I got a chance to walk the first section of the High Line in New York on Sunday morning. I’ve been reading about it since it’s opening almost a year ago. The elevated train track was built in the 1930s as part of the West Side Improvement Project. The 30-foot high track got dangerous trains up off the streets of a busy industrial area of Manhattan.
The High Line was used until 1980. It sat abandoned and weed-filled for almost 20 years and then was scheduled for demolition. Friends of the High Line, a community-based non-profit group was formed in 1999 to figure out a way to save this historic structure and re-use it as a public park. Their efforts paid off. Construction on phase one of the 1.45 mile walkway began in 2006 and the first half-mile or so opened in June of last year.
I’ve been anxious to see it and it doesn’t disappoint. Amid all the glitz, schlock and busy-ness of Manhattan, it’s a wonderful quiet place to walk among beautiful and interesting plants and enjoy some great views of the city.
The High Line is a great example of what a wonderful thing historic preservation can be. Saving a significant structure from demolition and figuring out a way to transform it into something so beautiful that can be use by everyone is an act of care and kindness that is inspiring to me. I can’t wait to go back next year and see phase two. Thank you to Friends of the High Line and the people of New York for this gift to all of us.