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March 21, 2019

New York’s High Line inspires other cities to build similar parks

May 29, 2018
The High Line in New York draws more than 5 million visitors a year. (Jeenah Moon/for New York Daily News)

The High Line is branching out.

Fresh off a successful 1.4-mile run above Manhattan’s swankiest neighborhoods, the city’s popular elevated park has taken its show on the road, inspiring similar projects around the country and across the ocean.

Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia and London are just some of the cities that want to get in on the act.

Even Albany has proposed a Skyway project that would transform a half-mile stretch of highway ramp into a landscaped promenade that would connect downtown to the Hudson River waterfront park.

“We’ll be looking to the High Line for some design ideas, landscaping lessons learned and ways to fund-raise to support programming,” said Sarah Reginelli, president of Capitalize Albany, a nonprofit economic development organization.

Lack of access to the Hudson River waterfront from downtown has long been a sore point for Albany residents and officials.

Standing in the way is the four-lane, 50-year-old Interstate 787, which borders the river and carries 80,000 cars and trucks a day.

Philadelphia is building a park on the old Reading Railroad.
Philadelphia is building a park on the old Reading Railroad. (Matt Rourke/AP)

A recent study considered several waterfront access ideas, including burying the highway or building a deck above it.

But officials settled instead on a plan to use an existing highway ramp that has connections to the riverfront park, and closing it to traffic.

Instead of trucks, buses and cars, the ramp will be filled with trees, gardens and plants with space for food vendors, farmers markets and music festivals.

Gov. Cuomo gave the project a boost in March when he announced a $3.1 million grant.

The money is for final engineering and initial construction, slated to begin by late 2019 and be finished in 2020.

Total cost estimates range from $5 million to $12 million, depending on design.

In Albany, this highway ramp is slated to be transformed into a half-mile-long aerial park.
In Albany, this highway ramp is slated to be transformed into a half-mile-long aerial park. (Mary Esch/AP)

“It’s going to be a critical element for the city, a place people will want to come to,” said Jonathan Brust, who lives nearby and looks forward to extending his daily walks to the riverfront.

“But we also need to find ways for it to pay for itself, like renting space for pop-up events and farmers markets.”

The idea also has appeal outside New York State.

Other cities are hoping to capture some of the popularity of the Big Apple’s 23-block-long lush railroad viaduct that attracts more than 5 million visitors a year, and has generated $4 billion in surrounding development since it opened in 2009.

“Communities all over the country are recycling all kinds of abandoned or unneeded infrastructure,” said Ed McMahon, a senior fellow at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, D.C.

“We’re recycling abandoned rail lines, canals, utility corridors, parking lots, roofs of buildings, airports — even decking over freeways.”

Cities across the U.S. are copying the Big Apple's High Line.
Cities across the U.S. are copying the Big Apple’s High Line. (Alex Rud/For New York Daily News)

In the nation’s capital, an old freeway bridge is being transformed into a park connecting Capitol Hill with communities east of the Anacostia River.

Philadelphia will break the seal on its first section of a park on the old Reading Viaduct next month.

In Chicago, an elevated Bloomingdale Trail opened on an abandoned rail line in 2015.

In Miami, the Underline will transform land beneath the city’s Metrorail into a 10-mile-long linear park designed by James Cormer Field Operations, which developed Manhattan’s High Line.

Meanwhile, London has the Camden Highline, a planned park on a half-mile strip of disused railway.

With News Wire Services

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