Field Trip Friday: NYC High Line
By Stephanie Hornickel, designer with DG2Home
Recently my husband and I took a grand tour of the New England area. Three of those days were spent in NYC doing all the tourist activities and sightseeing, while also enjoying details of gardens, fountains, pedestrian access and all other things landscape designers and architects notice. One of the most impressive uses of pedestrian walkways was the High Line.
The High Line is a public park that covers the span of what used to be train tracks that was in use starting in 1934 and was designed to go through the center of city blocks carrying goods to and from Manahattan’s industrial district. Trains discontinued their use in 1980, which led to overgrowth and abandonment along the highline for 25 years. The overgrowth of natural grasses and perennials took a big part of the design for what it is today. Current plant species were chosen for their hardiness, sustainability and texture while focusing on native species. The design of the landscape emphasizes year-round interest and bloom, so visitors have a unique experience each season.
A Friends of the High Line group was founded and by 2004, a group of architects, landscape architects and plant designers were chosen to design the space. After 15 years of advocacy and work, in 2014, the High Line was completed. Not only is the landscape a key element along the park path, but art work is another component. Commissions, exhibits and performances invite artists to creatively engage the history and design of the High Line and urban landscapes.
As a designer walking through the space, it truly is an efficient and well designed pathway park. It functions as an elevated bridge to get to several points in the city as well as providing a quiet and peaceful park space with an abundance of landscape that you don’t see walking through the city.
If you are ever in need of a field trip or case study on how to turn a narrow path into something useful and aesthetic, go visit the High Line in New York City, you won’t be disappointed.