Monday, August 15, 2016

PUBLIC SPACES - High Line Park

"Above Manhattan's bustle, a reshaped public space" PBS NewsHour 8/11/2016


SUMMARY:  In the mid-20th century, it was a railroad; now it's a public park.  Built in the 1930s, 30 feet above the streets of Manhattan, the High Line was crucial for transporting cargo.  But with the decline of rail transportation, it closed in 1980 and was abandoned.  Almost three decades later, it opened again -- this time, as a shared space for greenery, art and leisure.  Jeffrey Brown reports.

JAMES CORNER, Founder, James Corner Field Operations:  This is one of my favorite moments.  This is where these tracks crisscross.  It's called a frog.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  Railroad tracks of old in a park that has helped changed contemporary thinking about cities and public spaces.

JAMES CORNER:  We amplify found conditions.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Recently, I visited New York's phenomenally successful High Line Park with its designer, landscape architect James Corner.

JAMES CORNER:  I think this is what a lot of people like.  They see this.  They have discovered a found object.  There's a sense of surprise, a sense of delight.  It's real and authentic.  It's not Disney.

JEFFREY BROWN:  And it really is real.

JAMES CORNER:  And people get a kick out of it, especially in the context of modern-day Manhattan.

JEFFREY BROWN:  The original railway tracks, 30 feet above street level, were built in the 1930s.  Trains carried meat, milk and other cargo, sometimes making deliveries direct to Manhattan companies.

After trains stopped running here — the last was in 1980 — the site wasted away, an eyesore that no one could figure out what to do with, until they did:  Create a new kind of public park.

Since its opening in 2009, the High Line has attracted millions of visitors and plenty of attention from other cities eager to recreate its magic.

James Corner's firm, James Corner Field Operations, worked on the High Line with architects Diller Scofidio and Renfro and famed Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf.

JAMES CORNER:  It was a huge effort and a big leap of faith, because the High Line was really perceived by a lot of people to be a liability, derelict, abandoned, dangerous, dark, drugs, crime.

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