When we first learned about the High Line it was at a moment in time when we were designing a hotel in a historic section of a south Indian harbor town, with pedestrian zones intersecting with vibrant merchant and other urban realities; the High Line served as an inspirational benchmark for thinking about public spaces creatively.
Just now, for a new project, a colleague referred us to the Rockwell Group’s hospitality practice to see an example of another relevant benchmark, and while exploring their website we came across the project they are engaging in with the designers of the High Line, giving us a new objective for the next visit to New York City:
Notice where the railway used to enter the building
The High Line railway was originally designed to bring shipments straight from the Hudson to manufacturing warehouses in Manhattan. The train cars could run packages from wharves to upper-level floors of these industrial buildings without having to obstruct street traffic or be carried up several stories manually (freight elevators weren’t a common sight in the 1930s, whether for safety, efficiency, or invention reasons I don’t know).
In 1980 the High Line trains stopped running, and construction of the new park design started in 2006 (after seven years of planning). The first section opened to the public in 2009, and the second section in 2011.
I first heard of the High Line Park this summer, while doing some browsing about the city online. I was immediately struck by the ingenuity of converting what had once been industrial space Continue reading
An aerial shot looking down on the Washington Grasslands section of the park, with Rashid Johnson’s artwork Blocks and Yutaka Sone’s Little Manhattan visible, both 2015 Commissions.
Railroads were one of the most significant early forces of change to the landscape of North America. They not only moved freight and people but they participated in opening up the newly formed National Parks to visitors with the creation of the now iconic grand hotels.
Some of the railway’s original train tracks were marked and put back in their original locations. You’ll see them throughout the park today. Photo by Rick Darke
But as roads began to rival rails the network underwent a steady decline, and fewer and fewer resources were being put into their maintenance.
Fast forward a century–give or take a decade–and we find railroads, or at least rail corridors, going back to one of their greatest historical traits; as a pathway to nature.
In the 1980s the U.S. Congress passed an amendment allowing the use of soon-to-be-abandoned rail lines for hiking and biking trails.The highly successful “Rails-to-Trails” program has lead to nearly 1,012 rail-trails in the U.S. with a total trail mileage of more than 11,000.
Not just a U.S. phenomenon, there are similar programs in Canada, Mexico, Europe and Australia, to name a few. (Tasmanian Trail anyone?) Continue reading