It’s been a long time coming, but today marks the opening of one of the biggest public works projects to hit New York City in a generation. The High Line began its life as an elevated railway platform stretching through the western edge of Manhattan, delivering cows to the meatpacking district. Decommissioned in 1980 (the last train delivered a batch of frozen turkeys) it was a subject of intense debate in the neighborhood for almost two decades – between those who sought to preserve the rail line and those who hoped to tear it down and develop the land. Today it has been reopened — and re-invisioned — as a fantastic public park. Taking a page from Paris’s Promenade Plantée, it’s a park lifted above the city streets, an escape from the crowds and a place for contemplation. The design, by James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio & Renfro, features over 100 species of plants and also provides connective tissue to the neighborhood’s gallery scene, incorporating art works like Spencer Finches site-specific piece, The River That Flows Both Ways, which is made up of 700 individual panes of blue and green tinted glass, each of which represent light reflected off the Hudson River. It’s also been a boon to development in the neighborhood, with over 30 new projects planned for the space surrounding it, said Mayor Bloomberg this morning at the official opening. The first section of the park, which runs from 20th Street to Gansevoort St. (enter at Gansevoort), is now open to the public from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The New York Times is calling it “something of a New York fairy tale” and I’m dying to check it out. If you have, let us know what you think!
Photo: Iwan Baan, via The High Line Blog