Secret Gardens: New York’s High Line Garden

New York’s High line Gardens arise from a section of about 1.45 miles of abandoned elevated railroad and, above all, from the project by Piet Oudolf, who claims that “” My greatest inspiration is nature. I don’t want to copy it, but to recreate the emotion. “

Each garden and each section is recreated following the seasons and moods, but above all letting the native and spontaneous species, albeit followed and cared for by a team of gardeners, can proliferate among the abandoned tracks of the elevated railway, thus recreating a pleasant and livable environment away from the chaos and stress of the city.

A bit of history

The High line was once destined for demolition but luckily the local community got together and decided to reuse this disused railway line and recreate a garden that was an example for all the great cities of the world as well as a green space for New York and the whole local community.

In 1924 the tracks were still at street level but, given the dangerousness of rail transport and the high mortality due to investments caused by the train that passed to bring the goods to the warehouses of the industrial area, it was decided to bring the tracks to an elevated line , initially called “West side Elevated Line”.


Between the 1960s and the 1980s, with the increase in road transport, the elevated railway became increasingly disused with an initial demolition of the southern part and a subsequent proposal for total demolition of the entire line. But with the total inactivity of the whole line, people also began to think about reusing it for other purposes, until in 1999 Joshua David and Robert Hammond founded Friends of the High Line, a non-profit protection, to defend its conservation and reuse as a public space.


In 2003 to stimulate dialogue on the High Line, at a time when its transformation into a park was not yet assured, Friends of the High Line hosted an “ideas contest”, receiving 720 ideas from over 36 countries on the ways in which the park could be used.


The turning point came between 2004 and 2006: the city council of the then mayor Bloomberg approved the transformation of the High line into a park, while the design studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro and the floor plan designer Piet Oudolf were appointed as a team to transform the High Line.


In 2009, High line Art was founded and continues to produce works along and around the New York garden every year. Today the High Line is now a continuous greenway, 1.45 miles long, with over 500 species of plants and trees.

The park is maintained, operated and programmed by Friends of the High Line in partnership with the New York Department of Parks and Recreation. In addition to public spaces and gardens, the High Line hosts a diverse array of public programs, community and teen involvement, and world-class artwork and performances, free and open to all.


The gardens

The design of the High line is inspired by the native landscape that for years has developed growing between the abandoned tracks of the elevated railway. In doing so, the landscapes and emotions change every season and, although a team of gardeners led by Oudolf, the garden designer, constantly looks after the gardens, here you can always breathe the mystery and wonder of a wild place.

A few photos

The old railway that runs through the High line gardens
High Line gardens
High Line Gardens
High Line Gardens

The 16 Garden zones

The high line gardens of New York are divided into 16 zones, different in environment, style and more. Walking along mile 45 of the abandoned railroad track, you will surely recognize these different areas.

  1. Donald Pels e Wendy Keys Gansevoort Woodland: The southern end of the park is shaded by gray birch and lingonberry trees.
  2. Washington Grasslands e Woodland Edge: This section is filled with grasses, perennials, and woody species that tolerate the shade of the surrounding buildings.
  3. Diller – Von Furstenberg Sundeck & Water Feature: Wetland gardens bloom near the fountain, a favorite with visitors.
  4. Hudson River View: A selection of native plants stand out against the skyline.
  5. Northern Spur Reserve: Malus and other plants evoke the wild landscape of the High Line’s past.
  6. 10th Avenue Square: A grove of trees frames the view of the High Line with the Statue of Liberty.
  7. Chelsea Grasslands: or the embodiment of Piet Oudolf’s typical “matrix plantation” style.
  8. Chelsea Thicket: The original routes pass through a miniature forest of dogwood and other shrubs and trees.
  9. 23rd Street Lawn and Steps to Sit: A mix of tall fescue and perennial rye work together in the park’s lawn.

       10. Lawn Walk: Stroll through the Korean feather rush grass and West Chelsea’s galleries and warehouses.

       11. Philip A. and Lisa Maria Falcone Flyover: Rise up to the canopy  and come face to face with magnolias and sassafras.

       12. Wildflower Field and Radial Planting: Warm season herbs mix with wildflowers like aster and tall mint seed.

       13. Spur: The plants of the northeastern woods inspire the wild charm of the gardens of the Spur.

       14. Pershing’s Oriental Rail Yards, Crossroads, and Square Beams: Lush, textured plantings include fragrant perennials and ornamental grasses. 

       15. Intermediate Walkway: The closest thing to the desert that thrived when the tracks were unused.

       16. 34th Street Entry Plaza and CSX Transportation Gate: Milkweed of  butterflies, cottonwoods and an apple tree refer to the wild landscape.

Where, how, when

 The high line gardens are open from 9 am to 9 pm. At the time of writing, anti-covid measures are still active, so we recommend that you check the official website the accesses open both to enter and to exit and relative working lifts.

The same goes for bookings on weekends and during the week    

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