The first sections of the High Line public park in New York have opened to the public.

Gansevoort Woodland at Night: Iwan Baan © 2009.
Gansevoort Woodland at Night: Iwan Baan © 2009.

The disused elevated freight railway in west Manhattan is being transformed into a public park by a team led by James Corner Field Operations (landscape architecture) and Diller Scofidio + Renfro (architecture).

In a design statement, James Corner said: “Inspired by the melancholic, “found” beauty of the High Line, where nature has reclaimed a once-vital piece of urban infrastructure, the design aims to re-fit this industrial conveyance into a post-industrial instrument of leisure.

“The result is an episodic and varied sequence of public spaces and landscapes set along a simple and consistent line – a line that cuts across some of the most remarkable elevated vistas of Manhattan and the Hudson River.”

Opened in 1934, the railway was already obsolete by the 1960s, with the final train running on it in 1980. Developers then threatened it with demolition continually from the mid-1980s onwards until 1999, when local residents Joshua David and Robert Hammond founded Friends of the High Line to advocate for its preservation and reuse as public open space.

With the support of Michael Bloomberg and the New York City Council, an international design competition was held that eventually selected the team of James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

The team is already working on Section 2 (20th – 30th Street), which is projected to open to the public next year.

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