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What is the ‘High Line’?

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The High Line was built in the 1930s, as part of a massive public-private infrastructure project called the West Side Improvement. It lifted rail freight traffic 30ft high, removing dangerous trains from the streets of Manhattan’s largest industrial district. No trains have run on the High Line since 1980.

Friends of the High Line, a community-based nonprofit group, formed in 1999 when the historic structure was under threat of demolition. This group worked in partnership with the city of New York to preserve and maintain the structure as an elevated public park.

The project gained the city’s support in 2002. The High Line south of 30th Street was donated to the city by CSX Transportation Inc. in 2005. The design team of landscape architects James Corner of Field Operations, with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, created the High Line’s public landscaping. Construction on the park began in 2006.

The High Line is located on Manhattan’s West Side. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 34th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues. Section 1 of the High Line, which opened to the public on June 9, 2009, runs from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street.

Frank Edgerton Martin is a contributing editor for Fabric Architecture magazine who writes frequently about landscape architecture and planning issues.
Ron Bygness, editor of Geosynthetics magazine, also contributed to this article.
Fabric Architecture and Geosynthetics are two of seven magazines published by the Industrial Fabrics Association International.

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