Friday, August 21, 2009
The High Line -- NYC's newest park
A non-profit organization in the city had this weird idea of turning an old freight rail line that until about 1980 carried cargo high above streets in an industrial-port area of NYC into a park.
It's not finished but it's terrific and original. The rails have become flower beds teeming with daisies and grasses and the same native species that once grew naturally along a railway. Benches and railings all have railway themes and there are plans to add waterways as well. People walk and sunbathe (on ingenious chaise lounges made of wood and rail wheels so they move) and eat lunch along the way.
See: www.thehighline.org for more info (the website is as innovative as the park) but the main history is this:
10th Avenue was known in the late 19th and early 20th Century as Death Avenue because there were so many accidents involving freight trains and street traffic. They had guys on horses waving red flags in front of the trains to try and help but then around 1930 they got the idea to lift the tracks -- hence, High Line -- for 13 miles through the city. That cut out 105 railway crossings and was so huge an undertaking that it would cost $2 billion today to replicate. So this works great and all kinds of food and factory items get shipped through around and along buildings without any deaths. But around the 1950s interstates are built under the Eisenhower administration and trucks overtake rails as best, cheapest way to move cargo. By 1980 the line was defunct. Then it took awhile for a group of citizens to get the right idea and raise the money for this latest reiteration of the line.