30 feet above Manhattan's Meatpacking district is a revolutionary way of recycling. What used to be an abandoned elevated railway has now been turned into an oasis of public space. Known as the High Line, this park in the West Side is a breath of fresh air in a city hungry for more space. The meandering pathways are perfect for a leisurely stroll while benches that look like works of art give sore muscles a rest. Shrubs, trees and flowering plants add color to the landscape, some growing through the steel tracks. Above the ruckus of busy streets, visitors are at peace viewing a different perspective of this ever bustling city.
Back in the 1930s, the High Line had freight cars ferrying supplies to the various factories in what was then Manhattan's largest industrial district. Its use deminished over the years as interstate trucking became the favored form of transport. After the last train ran in 1980, the tracks were abandoned. There was a move by property owners under the railway tracks to have the structure demolished but efforts for its preservation was fought for by Friends of the High Line, a non-profit, community-based entity that now maintains and operates the park in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.
The High Line is a mile and half long and its development is currently in stages. The first section, opened to the public last month, runs from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street. There are entry points every 2-3 blocks, two with elevator access. The second section, from 20th Street to 30th Street, is scheduled to be finished next year. Negotiations are still underway for the development beyond 30th Street which ends next to the Jacob Javits Convention Center at 34th Street.