Monday, April 14, 2014

The future of sidewalks - High Line Park

Creative lighting schemes show up at different parts of the park
Five years ago an abandoned, elevated rail line in Manhattan morphed into the future. Once a gritty freight line that died with the economy in 1980, demolition was the extent of government creativity. 

Then two locals came along, started a grass-roots, non-profit Friends of the High Line campaign and started working with city hall on a new kind of elevated walking greenspace. Thus was born New York's High Line Park.

Yesterday a few of us from the recent SafeGrowth class walked a mile of this park alongside hundreds of strolling families and couples relaxing on lounge chairs. It's a unique oasis where locals and tourists retreat from the noisy cars and paved sidewalks below. By some counts over a million walk it yearly. 

People will comfortably walk 20 blocks up here versus fighting the mayhem that passes for New York traffic. The park meanders past vistas of the river on one side and through newly constructed glass office buildings on the other. At night, when we visited, it was creatively lighted and felt like a sidewalk of the future.

An evening oasis above city streets
Park police patrol it and I saw a few CCTV, but mostly the large number of people using it made the remarkable landscaping their own space. As for crime the New York Times said it best: "The park might be elevated, but the crime rate is not."