The High Line - History and Facts | History Hit

The High Line

New York, United States

Lily Johnson

04 Feb 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About The High Line

The High Line in New York City is a mile-long elevated walkway through Manhattan, that previously operated as part of the former New York Central Railroad. Once viewed as the ‘lifeline of New York’, it now serves as a picturesque park and open-air art gallery, allowing visitors to meander its paths three-stories above the city’s busy streets.

The High Line history 

The High Line was first constructed in 1933 to lift the city’s vital yet perilous railway off the streets. It was built 9m above street level and more conveniently drove the freight trains directly through factories and warehouses, such as those in the Meatpacking District.

With the increase of truck transportation in the following decades, less and less cargo was transported via train until in 1980 the High Line viaduct was shut down. By the mid-1980s, discussions surrounding the High Line’s demolition were underway. 

In 1999 however, the nonprofit organisation Friends of the High Line was formed, advocating for the preservation of the historic railroad. Its founders, Joshua David and Robert Hammond, one day climbed atop the tracks for the first time in years to discover it had been completely overrun by plants and wildflowers. Captivated by this, plans were made to transform the derelict tracks into a public park filled with a variety of plants and artwork.

The High Line today

Today the High Line intertwines New York’s industrial past with a fresh new take on urban greenery. The mile-long meandering paths take you through lush foliaged areas and over pebble-dash concrete, through the old industrial buildings and on overhangs above the street below. One section of the path goes directly through Chelsea Market, a historic site well worth a detour.

Architecture along the High Line is reminiscent of its railroad past, with exposed tracks intertwined with replanted grass and flowers, while art installations may also be found integrated into the architecture of the surrounding historic buildings. Stunning views of the city and Hudson River also add to the beauty of the site.

Getting to the High Line 

The High Line runs from Gansevoort Street, through Chelsea to the northern edge of West Side Yard on 34th Street. Due to its length, there are a number of access points. 

To join the start of the path from Gansevoort Street, the closest subway stations are 14th St-Eighth Avenue, a 10-minute walk away. The nearest bus stop is Greenwich St & Horatio St Stop, a 4-minute walk away.

To join it from the other side on 34th Street will require you to go to 34th Street-Hudson Yards, a 5-minute walk away or Penn Station, a 15-minute walk away. The nearest bus stop is W 34 St & 12th Av Stop, a 2-minute walk away.