The High Line is well worth a visit if you are a friend of sustainable urban planning like I am.
The High Line was a part of Manhattan’s West Side rail line, providing an important industrial transport connection. The elevated section of the line was served by cargo trains from the 1930’s onwards. The last train ran on the line in 1980, after which the tracks were left abandoned for several years.
In the 1990s, the High Line was threatened with demolition, but a group of friends of the line lobbied for its preservation and redevelopment.
Construction works on the line began in 2006 in collaboration with the City of New York. The park first opened to the public in 2009 and its latest section was opened in 2014.
The benefits of the redevelopment are manyfold. Since its opening, the High Line has become a popular attraction with 5 million annual visitors.
The park provides much needed green space in an urban environment and also adds to the biodiversity of the city.
A lot of the plant species are native to the area. The landscape architects were inspired by the wild vegetation that had grown over the tracks during the years when the line was abandoned. The result is a harmonious green space that looks natural and inviting.
In addition, the redeveloped High Line has had a positive impact on properties along the old railway line. It has also been an inspiration to many art and architecture projects in the area.
Examples of such great restoration projects of motorways and railways can be found in cities across the globe. In addition, the Urb-i project has an interesting gallery of before and after images of redeveloped urban spaces.
Perhaps Brussels’ pedestrian centre can be an inspiration for sustainable urban development as well when it is finished?