The High Line is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It is owned by the City of New York, and maintained and operated by Friends of the High Line. Founded in 1999 by community residents, Friends of the High Line fought for the High Line’s preservation and transformation at a time when the historic structure was under the threat of demolition. It is now the non-profit conservancy working with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to make sure the High Line is maintained as an extraordinary public space for all visitors to enjoy. In addition to overseeing maintenance, operations, and public programming for the park, Friends of the High Line works to raise the essential private funds to support virtually all of the park’s annual operating budget, and to advocate for the preservation and transformation of the High Line at the Rail Yards, the third and final section of the historic structure, which runs between West 30th and West 34th Streets.
FRIENDS OF THE HIGH LINE
Friends of the High Line is the non-profit, private partner to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Friends of the High Line works with the City to make sure the High Line is maintained as a great public place for all New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy. In addition to overseeing the maintenance, operations, and public programming for the High Line, Friends of the High Line is currently working to raise the essential private funding to help complete the High Line's construction and create an endowment for its future operations.
Friends of the High Line works to build and maintain an extraordinary public space on the High Line. We seek to protect the entire historic structure, transforming an essential piece of New York’s industrial past and inspiring new ways of thinking about the city, parks, public space, preservation, and community. We provide virtually all of the High Line’s annual operating budget and are responsible for the maintenance of the park, pursuant to a license agreement with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Through excellence in operations, stewardship, innovative programming, and world-class design, we seek to engage the vibrant and diverse community on and around the High Line.
Friends of the High Line was founded in 1999 by two neighborhood residents, Joshua David and Robert Hammond. The 501(c)(3) non-profit advocated for the High Line's preservation when the structure was under threat of demolition. Friends of the High Line successfully worked with the mayoral administration of Michael Bloomberg and the New York City Council to reverse a City policy favoring demolition to one ensuring the High Line's preservation through the federal Railbanking program. Friends of the High Line also spearheaded the design process for the High Line's transformation to a public park, partnering with the City of New York on an international design competition that eventually selected the team of James Corner Field Operations (landscape architecture), Diller Scofidio + Renfro (architecture), and Piet Oudolf (planting design). For more information on the design team, please contact [email protected]
HIGH LINE DESIGN
The High Line design team created a sequence of varied environments within a cohesive and singular landscape. Below are descriptions of the park’s design and planting features.
The High Line is elevated 30 feet above the streets. Whenever possible, stairs are brought up between the existing steel beams of the High Line, through openings cut into the structure. The stairs at Gansevoort Street signal a gradual transition from the busy street to the park’s quiet landscape.
Tiffany & Co. Foundation Overlook
A dramatic balcony sits above Gansevoort Street, marking the point at which the High Line was severed in the 1990s when it demolished south of this point. The overlook offers a view eastward over the industrial awnings and cobblestone streets of the Meatpacking District, and westward to the Hudson River. The site immediately west of the High Line is the future location of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s new building, as well as the new maintenance and operations facility for the High Line.
We call this area the Overlook when space constraints require the official name to be shortened.
At the top of the Gansevoort Stair, the Gansevoort Woodland provides dense plantings and a grove of grey birch and serviceberry trees, welcoming visitors into thick greenery. The woodland’s raised planting beds creates a greater soil depth than is found on most of the High Line. Shade-tolerant species, including redbud trees, Pennsylvania sedge, and perennial bluestar thrive in the woodland, and its autumn foliage makes it one of the most picturesque spots on the High Line in September and October. The Gansevoort Woodland is thanks to Donald Pels and Wendy Keys.
We call this area the Woodland when space constraints require the official name to be shortened.
Moving to the north, the Washington Grasslands, between Little West 12th and 13th Streets, is the widest section of the High Line. Tall grasses, brilliant green in the early summer and golden in the fall, line the path, which leads visitors to pass under The Standard, a hotel that bridges over the park. Groupings of the High Line’s distinctive “peel-up” benches provide clustered seating in this section. Visitors can catch a glimpse of the original railroad tracks, criss-crossing in the planting beds.
To avoid confusion with the Chelsea Grasslands, we use the full name when referring to this area.
Diller – von Furstenberg Sundeck
The High Line curves gently as it splits into two levels just north of 14th Street. In the warmer months, the upper level is lined with unique lounge chairs, which roll on wheels along railroad tracks, and water skims part of the path, providing visitors the opportunity to wade barefoot. Along the lower level, railroad tracks are reinstalled in plantings derived from the High Line’s self-sown landscape. The Sundeck is the perfect place to watch the sun set over the Hudson River, and an equally rich people-watching location. The Sundeck is made possible by the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation.
We call this area the Sundeck when space constraints require the official name to be shortened.
Chelsea Market Passage
At West 15th Street, the High Line enters a semi-enclosed former loading dock space of what was once the industrial bakery of the National Biscuit Company, or Nabisco. The building was converted for public use as Chelsea Market in the 1990s. This semi-enclosed passage has an upper and lower level, and provides a block-long cool refuge on hot summer days. On the lower level, café seating on the High Line Porch offers an appealing spot for a meal. The Passage is the site of an art installation, Spencer Finch’s The River That Flows Both Ways. In the building’s casement windows to the west, Finch installed colored glass panes, deriving the translucency of each pane from studies of 700 minutes on the Hudson River.
Tenth Avenue Square
Hundreds of tons of steel suspended above a busy avenue make up the High Line’s most monumental feature: the Tenth Avenue Square. As part of the High Line’s transformation into a park, the steel beams of the Square’s upper deck were removed to make way for wooden seating steps, creating an amphitheater-like space that allows visitors to inhabit the structure. The southwest side of the Tenth Avenue Square is home to a grove of tall red maples, and offers views south across the Hudson River to the Statue of Liberty. The Tenth Avenue Square is thanks to Hermine Riegerl Heller and David Heller, and Sukey and Mike Novogratz.
North of West 17th Street, the High Line sweeps gently toward the Hudson River, and begins a mile-long straightaway north through Chelsea. Inspired by the self-sown landscape that grew up on the High Line when the trains stopped running, the High Line design team filled the Chelsea Grasslands with wild grasses and vibrant wildflower that add color and texture throughout the four seasons. This section also gives visitiors a unique perspective on the old and new architecture of the neighborhood. Between West 18th and West 19th Street, new buildings designed by Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, Annabelle Seldorf, Shigeru Ban, Audrey Matlock, and Della Valle Bernheimer are juxtaposed by the industrial brick architecture of the neighborhood’s older factories and warehouses. The Chelsea Grasslands are thanks to The Tiffany & Co. Foundation.
To avoid confusion with the Washington Grasslands, we use the full name when referring to this area.
As visitors move north from the Chelsea Grasslands’ prairie-like landscape, a dense planting of flowering shrubs and small trees indicates the beginning of a new section of the park, between West 20th and West 22nd Streets. In the Chelsea Thicket, species like winterberry, redbud, and large American hollies provide year-round textural and color variation. An under-planting of low grasses, sedges, and shade-tolerant perennials further emphasizes the transition from grassland to thicket. The Chelsea Thicket South is in memory of Janice H. Levin and made possible through support of the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation.
We call this area the Thicket when space constraints require the official name to be shortened.
23rd Street Lawn and Seating Steps
The High Line opens to a wider area between West 22nd and West 23rd Streets, where an extra pair of rail tracks once served the loading docks of adjacent warehouses. The extra width in this area was used to create a gathering space, with Seating Steps made of reclaimed teak anchoring the southern end of a 4,900-square-foot lawn. At its northern end, the Lawn “peels up,” lifting visitors several feet into the air and offering views of Brooklyn to the east, and the Hudson River and New Jersey to the west.
We call these areas the Lawn and Seating Steps when space constraints require the official names to be shortened.
Philip A. and Lisa Maria Falcone Flyover
Between West 25th and West 26th Streets, adjacent buildings create a microclimate that once cultivated a dense grove of tall shrubs and trees. Now, a metal walkway rises eight feet above the High Line, allowing groundcover plants to blanket the undulating terrain below, and carrying visitors upward, into a canopy of sumac and magnolia trees. At various points, overlooks branch off the walkway, creating opportunities to pause and enjoy views of the plantings below and the city beyond. The Philip A. and Lisa Maria Falcone Flyover is made possible by Philip A. and Lisa Maria Falcone.
We call this area the Falcone Flyover when space constraints require the official names to be shortened.
26th Street Viewing Spur
Hovering above the historic rail on the east side of the High Line at West 26th Street, the Viewing Spur’s frame is meant to recall the billboards that were once attached to the High Line. Now the frame enhances, rather than blocks, views of the city. Tall shrubs and trees flank the Viewing Spur’s frame, while a platform with wood benches invites visitors to sit and enjoy views of 10th Avenue and Chelsea. The 26th Street Viewing Spur is thanks to Sherry and Douglas Oliver, The Hanson Family, and Avenues: The World School.
We call this area the Viewing Spur when space constraints require the official names to be shortened.
Between West 26th and West 29th Streets, the landscape of the Wildflower Field is dominated by hardy, drought-resistance grasses and wildflowers, and features a mix of species that ensures variation in blooms throughout the growing season. The simplicity of the straight walkway, running alongside the wildflowers interspersed between the original railroad tracks, allows visitors to appreciate the green axis of the High Line, as it moves through the city.
At West 29th Street, the High Line begins a long, gentle curve toward the Hudson River, signifying a transition to the West Side Rail Yards. The High Line’s pathway echoes the curve, and a long bank of wooden benches sweep westward along the edge of the pathway. Planting beds behinds and in front of the benches line the curve with greenery.
30th Street Grove
The 30th Street Grove is a serene gathering space near 30th Street. In addition to secluded seating and communal picnic areas, the Grove also houses an assortment of new design elements, including the peel-up sound bench – a chime feature for children – and the peel-up rocker.
Rail Track Walk
These three linear walks – located in different areas along the High Line at the Rail Yards – expose the High Line’s rail tracks, evoking the High Line’s history as an active freight rail line. On these walks, visitors can interact with artifacts such as the rail “frog” and the rail switches, or rest in one of several alcove pockets of peel-up benches located throughout the pathways. Planting beds featuring Piet Oudolf’s naturalistic landscape border the pathways.
11th Avenue Bridge
As the High Line runs west over 11th Avenue, the main pathway gradually slopes up about two feet, creating an elevated catwalk from which visitors can view the park, the cityscape, and Hudson River. Lush display gardens on either side of the catwalk will separate the main pathway from the more intimate linear bench seating running along the railing on either side of the bridge.
Pershing Square Beams
Just west of 11th Avenue is a unique design feature for kids, the Pershing Square Beams. Here the High Line's concrete deck is stripped away, revealing the original framework of steel beams and girders. The structure itself is transformed into a series of sunken areas – coated in a silicone surface for safety – that children can run between, climb over, and play within. The area also includes a series of play elements developed exclusively for the High Line, such as a rotating beam, periscopes, a gopher hole, and talking and viewing tubes.
HIGH LINEThe High Line is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It is owned by the City of New York, and maintained and operated by Friends of the High Line. Founded in 1999 by community residents, Friends of the High Line fought for the High Line’s preservation and transformation at a time when the historic structure was under the threat of demolition. It is now the non-profit conservancy working with the New York...
- Year 2014
- Work finished in 2014
- Client Friends of the High Line
- Status Current works
- Type Parks, Public Gardens / Urban Furniture / Adaptive reuse of industrial sites