At once a blighted relic overgrown with wildflowers from when the last freight train ran along its tracks in 1980, the New York City High Line‘s resurgence as an elevated urban park has been one enjoyed by tourists and residents alike. Fallen into disuse and subsequently lobbied for demolition, these elevated train tracks snaking through Manhattan’s West Side were saved by the concerted efforts of a non-profit, The Friends Of The High Line, banned together in opposition. Whether wittingly or not, the recycling of railway into an urban park has spurred real estate development in the neighborhoods which lie along the line, with residents meanwhile acquiescing to an easy peek into their third story apartments in exchange for the rising price of their property. The MTA is now set to develop the West Side Rail Yards-an active train yard for the Long Island Rail Road and an area the High Line is set to wrap around-into more than 12 million square feet of mixed-use real estate. A city area long in transition, in part due to the development of the High Line itself, is now set to receive its third and final installment of the urban park.
At a High Line community input meeting last week, James Corner and Ric Scofidio of the High Line Design Team unveiled the initial design concepts for the remaining undeveloped portion of the line, the rail yards section. Spanning just a few blocks the north and south between West 30th and West 34th Street, a majority of the new construction will take place between 10th and 12th Avenues, from east to west. Once the rail yards section of the High Line is open to the public, the park will connect three neighborhoods along Manhattan’s West Side: the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea, and Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen.
As described by the designers:
The rail yards section will extend and evolve the design of the High Line south of West 30th Street, and respond to the unique urban context of the new neighborhood to be developed at Hudson Yards. With more than 12 million square feet of new office, residential, retail, and cultural uses planned for the site, Hudson Yards will create a new kind of urban experience unlike anything seen in the Meatpacking District and West Chelsea. Construction of the High Line will be closely coordinated with the development of Hudson Yards, with the park fully built out on the majority of the eastern section of the historic railway, and an interim walkway built over the western section
An interim walkway will float above the existing landscape. It is set to wind along the curve of the High Line at West 30th Street and 12th Avenue, and will provide visitors a unique opportunity to see the original railroad tracks and Hudson River.
A point of interest still in discussion is what’s known as the 10th Avenue Spur. Decades ago, this extension allowed freight trains to carry mail and packages to and from the upper-floor loading docks of the post office building. The Spur is not only the widest area on the High Line, but offers a unique view of the north-south, chasm-like corridor of 10th avenue.
As a mark of continuity, the new section will incorporate many of the “Peel-Up” Design Elements. The sections of the High Line south of West 30th street feature ‘peel-up’ benches which rise organically from the planks of the walkway. Similarly, the landscape will once again feature Piet Oudolf’s naturalistic planting design.
Other interesting design elements include a children’s play area, where the High Line’s concrete deck is removed, revealing the framework of the High Line’s original beams and girders, covered with a thick rubber safety coating, and transformed into a unique play feature for kids.
The estimated total cost of capital construction of the High Line at the Rail Yards is $90 million. Friends of the High Line and the City of New York are working to open this new development by the end of 2013, with a full public opening in Spring 2014.