High Line, New York

New York's High Line

New York's High Line

Urban rail projects have their ups and down (and ups again); once seen as unfashionable and no longer in keeping with “modern” thinking, rail lines are abandoned, forgotten, dismantled. In 1930s New York, on the Western side of Manhattan, an elevated rail line was built as part of a regeneration project aimed at removing rail lines from street running and raising well above people and street levels. All went well until the 1950s and trucking took over; this signalled the decline of the elevated railway until the 1980s when it saw the last train and the line fell into disuse. Thanks to the efforts of local rail enthusiasts, most of the line survived attempts to demolish it; during the late 1990s, efforts were started to reuse the route in one form or another.

Now, almost thirty years after the line was last used it has been turned into a public space; it is now a park running above the street level that acts as a green space, an elevated park. Whilst it will no longer carry rail transport, the elevated railway now provides an extensive green line running through the Western part of Manhattan serving as an inspiration to other towns and cities that might otherwise neglect or forget their railway history. It will be interesting to see how many other cities in the World use this project as an catalyst to regenerate and reuse abandoned urban rail routes and turn them into green spaces.

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