Nature's Way

An old railway is transformed into a public park in New York City

Aug 03, 2011 | By TFK Kid Reporter Lucy Corlett
COURTESY CORLETT FAMILY

This summer, thousands of visitors are walking through a garden in the sky—right in the middle of New York City. They are enjoying a beautiful, new park called the High Line, which was constructed on old railway tracks.

After the railway was abandoned in 1980, wild plants, grass and trees began to grow between the tracks. A few people looked at this natural garden and saw something amazing. They worked to preserve the area when others wanted to tear it down. Today, the High Line attracts up to 2 million visitors per year. This summer, the new part of the High Line opened, almost doubling the park's size to one mile.

A Place to Play

The design of the park is unique. The new section includes many activities for children. Young people can use building toys, including wood planks, wheels, ropes, gears, pulleys and tools, to create one-of-a kind structures. The toys don't come with instructions. Instead, children use their imaginations to fashion forts, creatures and machines.

Children also enjoy a part of the park called the "flyover." The flyover is made of metal grating, which has been raised over the elevated tracks. Trees grow under and around it, giving you the feeling of walking through a jungle.

Let's Get Together

"Everyone supporting the High Line project wanted the park to embrace the city," says Danya Sherman, director of public programs for the Friends of the High Line. The Friends of the High Line is the group that saved the railway from demolition. Sherman believes that public spaces such as the High Line have the power to bring communities together.

The park also gives visitors a chance to experience nature in an urban environment. The designers have allowed the park to keep the overgrown feeling that it had when it was an abandoned track. If you visit, you can see birds, butterflies and many plants native to the northeastern United States.

The Friends of the High Line hope to expand the park even further, over an area that is still used as a rail yard. The High Line has also inspired projects in other cities, including Philadelphia, Chicago, and Amsterdam, where people hope to build new parks on old railway tracks.