New York City may be known to be a concrete jungle, but new environmental designs give New Yorkers a chance to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. High Line Park takes the conventional idea of a park and transforms an unconventional outdoor space into one of the most popular summer public areas in the city. With the help of progressive and creative ideas, High Line Park raises a park to new heights.
Located in the Chelsea neighborhood, High Line Park is known for its innovative way of taking unused space and changing it into a public park. The High Line was originally created in the 1930s as an elevated railway system. Trains have not run on the High Line tracks since the 1980s. The area was threatened to be destroyed, but with the collaboration of the City of New York and an organization called Friends of the High Line, the historical structure was saved. Not only was it spared from demolition, the area turned into New York City’s famous elevated park.
Ideas for High Line Park took off beginning in 2001. By 2003, the “Designing the High Line” competition was created to generate ideas from around the world. Teams from 36 countries entered for a chance to have their plans put into the park. It wasn’t until 2006 when construction began. The first section of the park, stretching from Gansevoort street to West 20th street, opened in June of 2009. Just recently in June of 2011, the second section of the park opened, now extending upwards from West 20th street to West 30th street.
The literal steel to nature transformation shows how creative visionaries can create an environmentally friendly space where one previously didn’t exist. The park has had extensive designs in terms of plants, which have been selected based on sustainability and inspired by the landscape that had sprouted over the years when the railway had not been used. Just in the first section of the park, visitors can find over 200 types of grasses, shrubs, and flowers. Developers were able to keep history alive by leaving the old railroad tracks in place, while plating around them. For night time visits, LED lights are placed around the park for energy efficient ways of enjoying the space when the sun goes down.
The unique structure of the elevated park has drawn large amounts of visitors since its opening, and continues to grow with its recent expansion. The High Line hosts an array of events where people can enjoy the outdoors in the middle of the thriving city. Saturdays at the High Line bring tours of the park, including a walking guide that points out historical and horticultural highlights. Tuesday evenings after the sky has turned dark, visitors can take part in star gazing with high tech telescopes. The park, in collaboration with the Amateur Astronomers Associated of New York, brings the sometimes rare sight of stars to New Yorkers’ eyes. An upcoming June walking tour around the park with gardeners will showcase how the gardens of the park are taken care of. Live entertainment and musical performances are also a popular option for anyone visiting the park.
Aside from all the programs happening at the High Line Park in upcoming months, many visitors simply enjoy spending leisure time at a new and unique park. With views of the Hudson River, the innovative park brings a new perspective on green spaces. In a city where every square inch of space is highly valued, designers have been able to successfully create a large, environmentally conscious park above the busy streets. The first design of its kind has become a hit for New Yorkers who want to escape the hectic city life to be part of nature at new heights.
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