The High Line; What Makes a Garden?

The best landscapes enable us to see something new or to see something familiar from a new perspective.


High Line viewing

Visitors to the New York City High Line can observe city life from multiple view points.


That is certainly the case with New York City’s High Line.  Famously created from an elevated rail line and opened to the public in 2009. The story of how this unusual garden went from an industrial function, to a relic slated for demolition, to a beloved public space, is a true life garden fairy tale.


High Line entrance

One entrance to the High Line near Gansevoort St in New York City.


The iconic park shows what can happen when someone sees the beauty in the beast and fights for their vision with passion and perseverance. Peter Obletz is credited with recognizing the potential in this derelict rail line, that famously ran its last cargo of frozen turkeys, through the meat-packing district in 1980.


High Line rails and plants

Remnants of its former life, as a rail line, are purposely left, in some places, as a reminder of what this park has been.


The current park was the result of multiple designers and passionate people who brought the vision of a raised ribbon of green, weaving its way above the city streets and now serving as an oasis and destination in the densely populated city.


High Line path design

Pathways that smoothly move visitors through the garden are part of any good garden design.


Even in residential garden design a change of perspective or a new opinion can make all the difference in how a homeowner uses or enjoys their garden. Sometimes it’s as simple as a raised area that offers a different view or a sunken area that encloses and protects. Often, it is creating a destination in an un-loved part of the garden that allows a resting place for looking back and enjoying ones own home from a new vantage point.


High Line seating

Every garden needs a place to sit and the High Line designers created stylish seating reminiscent of the industrial past.


But whether it’s designing a home garden or creating a vibrant public space, some of the considerations are the same.  What will stay and what will go? Is there an easy journey from one point to another? Is there a comfortable resting place at the end of that journey? What can you see when you get there?


High Line relax

If you’re lucky, a garden has a place to recline or read, in this case, even with the world passing by.


Optimum results will create practical paths, places to gather, places to play and places to rest or observe.


High Line performance

Public spaces can be places for engagement and interesting interaction.


A good garden will;  … Keep the best of what WAS …ADD a new perspective …and…create a new what IS.


High Line wedding

Home gardens and public gardens alike are more vibrant when they offer a place to celebrate, like this bride and groom taking a stroll in the late afternoon sun.


The High Line is currently celebrating the opening of a new section, at the Rail Yards. Opened to the public September 2014. For more info on the heroes of this story visit 


High Line grass views

The best possible scenario is a new perspective on familiar surroundings. The back-lit native grasses shine in the foreground, of a previously unattainable view of the city beyond.

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Categories: Garden Inspiration, Places to See


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7 Comments on “The High Line; What Makes a Garden?”

  1. October 10, 2014 at 7:39 am #

    The High Line is a spectacular garden and your post describes it well.

  2. October 10, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    Thank you for writing and sharing this informative article on how our cities, through good planning, can transform neglect into a beautiful and useful space.

  3. Susan Souza
    May 28, 2015 at 7:03 am #

    Your photos and descriptions captured the High Line experience.

  4. June 19, 2015 at 11:57 am #

    Personally I think it is the latter. I think a new perspective is always useful…doesn’t need to be pretty. Just my opinion. I welcome yours.

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