Just over a year ago, a gorgeous and peculiar park space on an old rail line opened in the heart of Manhattan.
Of course, we are talking about the High Line.
Coinciding with its opening was some three weeks straight of rain, prompting some weisenheimer to wonder if the High Line was haunted by a man who died while working on the train line half a century earlier, and did not want Manhattanites and tourists walking across the place of his death en route to trendy Meatpacking District boites. So the man, Ezekiel Marcus, conjured up rain, and a lot of it.
A year later, High Line project champions Robert Hammond and Joshua David are sought after for advice on creating similar similar greenspaces out of old rail tracks in locales as far-flung and varied as Rotterdam, Hong Kong, Detroit, Chicago and Jersey City, reports the NY Times.
The High Line’s success as an elevated park, its improbable evolution from old trestle into glittering urban amenity, has motivated a whole host of public officials and city planners to consider or revisit efforts to convert relics from their own industrial pasts into potential economic engines.
In many of these places there had already been some talk and visions of what might be, but now New York’s accomplishment is providing ammunition for boosters while giving skeptics much-needed evidence of the potential for success. The High Line has become, like bagels and CompStat, another kind of New York export.
“There’s a nice healthy competition between big American cities,” said Ben Helphand, who is pushing to create a park on a defunct rail line in Chicago. “That this has been done in New York puts the onus on us to do it ourselves and to give it a Chicago stamp.”