Today, a post related to gardens focused on a very interesting park.
The High Line is located on the west side of Manhattan, above 10th Avenue between Gansevoort Street and W 30th Street. This elevated track used to be a used to shuttle freight trains from Penn Station to the factories in the Meatpacking District. As the factories moved, the train line was abandoned and was almost torn down in the mid-1990s. Instead, neighbors of the tracks who looked down on it and saw an abandoned wilderness imagined a new park and Friends of the High Line was born. The first section of the park opened in 2009 and the second in 2011 (a third section is in the works).
So why am I telling you about the High Line? In addition to being awesome, it displays a number of examples of sustainability.
The High Line is an example of creative reuse. Rather than tearing down an existing structure (which would have cost money), money was invested into turning this abandoned space into a public park, which benefits everyone. The High Line provides green space in an industrial neighborhood and provides stunning views that cannot be accessed from anywhere else in the neighborhood. In addition, many of the original train tracks were incorporated into the design, both showcasing the High Line’s history and preventing waste.
The High Line is home to native plants and provides a habitat for local animals. According to their FAQ, 161 out of the 210 plant species in the design of Section 1 of the High Line are native to New York. Because local plants are adapted to their environment, it takes less artificial work from the gardeners to maintain the plants. Or, as the High Line’s section on sustainability explains it, “By basing the planting design on naturally-created plant communities, we create a well-adapted, site-specific landscape, cutting down on water and other resources needed to maintain it. ” All of these carefully maintained plants lead to homes for pollinators and other local animals.
The High Line is a green roof.
A section that you can't walk on; it serves as a green roof
In fact, it’s the largest green roof in the world. New York City has an overtaxed water system. This leads to “combined sewage overflows,” which is as gross as it sounds – when it rains, the rainwater causes our sewer systems to overflow, releasing sewage into local bodies of water. Eww! One solution is to carefully choose plants to act as sponges, absorbing water as it falls and releasing it gradually into the sewers. The High Line uses a specific mix of plants and soils to do just that. This is one very sustainable type of garden that provides a solution to NYC’s water problems (more about that next week).
The High Line is committed to sustainable practices in running the park. They do not use fertilizers or pesticides, reduce chemical treatment for snow in favor of hand shovels and power brooms, monitor and reduce the amount of watering, and are in the process of starting on-site composting. For more details, read their sustainability page.
The High Line is committed to educating the public about their sustainable practices. For adults and families, they periodically host events like composting workshops and guided tours of the park. For students and teachers, the High Line has a field trip option for grades 2-7 that explores biodiversity, native species, and New York City’s ecosystem at the High Line.
In addition to all that, the High Line is a beautiful place for a picnic, stroll, to watch the sunset, or just to sit and read. If you’ve never been to the High Line, stop reading this entry and go. Seriously.