NEW YORK — An old railroad line in New York City is back in use. It doesn’t deliver livestock anymore, it delivers pleasure to thousands of people every day and stimulates economic development in a few New York neighborhoods. An elevated railroad line has been turned into an “elevated park” right in the middle of New York City.
It’s called the “Highline.” It’s a newly renovated and elevated promenade that was once a railway line for delivering cattle and other foodstock. In 1980, the train made its last delivery, bringing frozen turkeys to lower Manhattan. In a densely populated city, the Highline now provides open space for relaxation as it winds through neighborhoods once noted for slaughterhouses.
New Yorkers and tourists are enjoying it.
This once drab neighborhood is being changed, seemingly overnight, thanks to the Highline.
It’s an oasis in a sea of concrete. The walkway includes more than 100 species of plants inspired by the wild landscape left after the trains stopped running. New construction is everywhere. Apartments, office towers, restaurants and even a museum have sprouted alongside the promendade. Those who live closest to it are proud, but at the same time wary.
“There’s real pressure being put on working class people around here to still get a place,” said a visitor. “So, you know, the Highline both honors the past and the industrial grittiness but it adds to the gentrification. It is a little tricky, but we are glad to have it.”
The first section of the Highline was inaugurated in May, after 15 years of planning and political battles. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, along with benefactors like clothing designer Diane von Furstenberg and her husband, media mogul Barry Diller, cut the ribbon.
“I’m so proud to be a part of this neighborhood, this city and this country,” said Diane von Furstenberg. “And things can happen and dreams can happen and we should all take that away today.”
The first two sections of the Highline cost $152 million. Of that, $44 million was raised by the public. For those who visit, it seems it was well worth the wait and the money.
— Bernard Shusman, Voice of America