Taking the High Line: elevated parks, transforming neighbourhoods, and the ever-changing relationship between the urban and nature

Hélène Littke, Tigran Haas & Ryan Locke

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Littke, H. , Haas, T. & Locke, R. (1). Taking the High Line: elevated parks, transforming neighbourhoods, and the ever-changing relationship between the urban and nature. Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability, 9(4), 353–371. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17549175.2015.1063532

Elevated Parks , Environmental Gentrification , Landscape Urbanism , Urban Green Space

The popularity and impact of the High Line in New York mirrors the complex reality of contemporary provision of public space. The development of the project, its relation- ship to its surroundings and the evolving trend of elevated parks are analyzed in relation to the role of urban green space and impacts of Landscape Urbanism. The High Line shows the way to a new role for urban green space by utilizing aban- doned infrastructure. In analysing the narrative of the High Line, this article stresses the importance of understanding localities and connectivity. Based on observations as well as a review of the literature and media, the article concludes that great landscaping does not create great places without careful consideration of the surrounding commu- nity and residents.

Main finding
This study finds that the High Line is creating transformative changes but it has also created frictions and caused gentrification as well as raised questions of typology replicability, geo-transformative context, the role of nature in the city, and reuse of abandoned infrastructure. This study recognizes that elevated parks can bring ‘new’ nature into cities but ecological and landscape concerns must be reconciled with geographical, cultural, social and political circumstances as well as the larger planning context which has not been a great concern for Landscape Urbanism. Also connectivity between functions, activities and people stressed as a main issue in design and process.

Description of method used in the article
More than 25 documents and 3 scientific articles were analyzed to understand the effects of the project on the local and global levels, and the observations were made to support a critical discussion with the material dimension of the structure itself. During the observations the full stretch of the High Line was studied and extensive photos and notes were taken. Access points, physical and visual connections to the surroundings, access to green elements, as well as commercial activities available on the structure were identified and mapped.

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Organising categories

Other or N/A
Urban Planning
Physical types
Geographic locations