New York City’s High Line is a recently-opened park on an abandoned elevated freight track.
Facing the demolition of an abandoned rail track through much of Manhattan’s West Side, several community groups formed to try to preserve and rehabilitate the space into a public park.
The original 13-mile track was built in 1929 as a way to decrease street-level freight train accidents. The track was designed to go directly through buildings – an incredibly cool feature that is still sort of preserved today, but unfortunately only minimally. Though most of the passages have either been demolished or patched up, you can still see visible hints on some of the buildings that used to allow trains to roll through.
The last train ran through in 1980, and the first stage of the James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed park opened in June 2009. The second stage opened in June 2011, making the park about 1.5 miles long. The redesign cleverly recycles a lot of features specific to the space (like the abandoned billboard frames turned into street-viewing windows).
In typical New York fashion, a lot of the park’s success comes from creating something beautiful and unique out of something discarded and forgotten.