Joshua David, Co-Founder, Friends of the High Line

Karen Hock, (former) Deputy Director, Design Trust for Public Space 


Andrea Woodner, (former) Executive Director, Design Trust for Public Space


Design Trust for Public Space

Friends of the High Line

Before the High Line was transformed into New York City's newest open space, it was a derelict piece of infrastructure awaiting demolition. Reclaiming the High Line is the landmark feasibility study that ultimately led to Mayor Bloomberg's decision in 2002 to rescind the outstanding demolition order on the High Line.

Reclaiming the High Line makes a compelling case for converting the elevated railway into open space, and outlines strategies for making this happen. Created in collaboration with Friends of the High Line, the study examines the potential offered by the historic structure to connect communities, generate economic activity, inspire bold design solutions and improve the urban condition through the creation of a 1.45-mile-long, 6.7 acre, elevated public space. 

Many of the strategies, design principles and recommendations we outlined in the study were implemented in the park: 

  1. Pedestrian use is the best reuse for the High Line
  2. Visitors should enjoy a variety of environments
  3. Plantings should recreate original meadows
  4. Art should be part of the design and programming 
  5. The space should be recreational and contemplative
  6. The space should include some commercial uses
  7. The space should not become a mall
  8. Zoning incentives should be used to attract private financing for this public amenity 

Reclaiming the High Line advocates a unified, progressive design response, reflecting the original vision of the High Line as a vital component of the "City of Tomorrow." It also proposes an inclusive planning approach that considers the needs of community members, business and property owners, and the State and City. The study provides specific recommendations for each of the neighborhoods that the High Line intersects.

Table of Contents

High Line Map and Fact Sheet

Recommendations for Public Reuse
History of the High Line
Existing Conditions
Physical Context
Competing Ownership Plans
Evaluation of Reuse Options

The High Line and the City as Palimpsest by Elizabeth Barlow Rogers

Project Participants 

Publication Information

Date: February 2002

Pages: 92

ISBN: 0-971-6942-5-7

Design by: Pentagram

Status: Out of print; available as a PDF 

Where To Buy

Design Trust Shop

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In partnership with

Friends of the High Line

Associated Fellows