11. The High Line is modeled off of a Parisian park
Although many may think that The High Line‘s concept of transforming old railroad tracks into a park was pioneered in Chelsea, The High Line took inspiration from a similar project in Paris, The Coulée Verte René-Dumont is located in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, built in 1993 out of a repurposed railway. It follows the old Vincennes railway line and crosses an elevated viaduct called Viaduc Des Artes as it reaches the Bastille. The High Line, the Coulée Verte’s American counterpart, was meant to have connecting retail space under it, but plans were discontinued after spaces under the park became privatized.
For years, the elevated railroad in New York City was simply a site popular to urban explorers, but there were many efforts in the 1980s to demolish the entire railway, which many viewed as a waste of space. Mayor Giuliani’s administration slowly started to dismantle parts of the tracks and put in plans to officially demolish it, yet many activists pushed to transform the archaic tracks into some kind of public space. When the project to renovate the railway was green-lit in 2003, Friends of the High Line held a design competition trying to find the best approach to reinventing the space, and although the Paris-inspired design ultimately attracted the most attention, there were plenty of other rather strange designs considered, such as making the entire stretch of the railroad into a pool.