2. The High Line Almost Didn’t Happen
The High Line, which now attracts millions of visitors every year, was created on the abandoned elevated railway tracks built in 1934 to replace the street-level tracks on Death Avenue. Unsurprisingly, it was Robert Moses who proposed the West Side Improvement Project, which the city approved in 1929. Dubbed the “West Side Elevated Line,” the train tracks cut through buildings, including the Nabisco factory. They were only used for about 30 years before becoming obsolete due to the rise in trucking.
The decline began in the 1960s and by the ’80s, all train traffic stopped and the railway was abandoned. Weeds grew rampant as nature reclaimed this industrial relic. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani tried to tear the elevated railway down, but Friends of the High Line, formed by Joshua David and Robert Hammond, successfully campaigned for its conversion to an elevated park inspired by the Coulée Verte in Paris. Designed by James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Piet Oudolf, the first section of the High Line opened in 2009.