NYC High Line Exemplifies Urban Greening

June 16, 2012 § 1 Comment

In 2009, New York City history was made. A brand new, incredibly unique, and highly integrated linear park opened between the Chelsea and Meatpacking districts of the West Side of Manhattan. The High Line Park, which originally encompassed an elevated stretch from Gansevoort Street up to 20th Street, and currently extending to 30th Street, is not unique in being an elevated park – the Promenade Plantee in Paris is perhaps the most famous example – but is perhaps the first to be built on, around, and incorporating an old elevated train line known as – wait for it – the High Line.
I could easily bore you right here with an over-researched and under-enthused depiction of the history of the High Line and how it came to be a park, detailing all of the different staged ad listing each and every piece of legislation needed to put this thing together, but I’d rather skip to what I think we all would consider the good part – lets talk about the park.
The first thing that hits you, no matter where you ascend to the park, is the color. The park is unbelievably green. Everywhere you look, leafy plants and bushes elicit the feel of a riverside walk, and at one point a photomural of the Hudson River accentuates that point further, as do a variety of unexpected glimpses out over the real river itself.

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Raised above the bustling streets of Midtown Manhattan, only the slightest hint of the chaos below can be made out, in the form of a soothing, rustling breeze. As you walk along the park, and look past the greenery, there’s much more to be noticed. Depending on your point in the park, you may find yourself standing on top of the old rails of the elevated train. At other points along the greenway, you may actually find the old rails, wooden rests and all, being used as a pseudo-planter for the lushness around you.

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In addition to the sheer sustainable brilliance of converting the old tracks to this beautiful park, many more sustainable features can be found across the part. One of them is literally right under your nose – and your feet. The section around 16th Street, stretching a few blocks, is made of wood rather than the shining metal of many of the other sections. This wood is not just any wood – its actually certified sustainable Ipe, with which the benches throughout the entire park are made.
Last, but certainly not least, there’s the matter of economics. In the few short years since the park opened, it has played a huge part in the revitalization of the neighborhood around it. The real estate boom that has occurred around the park is just one more thing to add to the list of reasons how environmental protection and sustainable environmental planning and development spur many other significant benefits.

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