London's Rushing to Copy New York's High Line Park for Its Economic Effects

Posted by Dave Burdick

The High Line park in New York—built atop abandoned elevated freight rail line in Manhattan—is, first and foremost, very cool. How often do you find yourself in awe of innovation in parks? But it is the economic effects of the major investment in the park that have other cities particularly interested in replicating the park's unusual wildflower-in-the-sidewalk feel, says The Guardian:

Now, 12 years on, New York's park in the sky attracted more than 3.7 million visitors last year, has generated $2bn-worth of private investment surrounding the park and is predicted to exceed $900m in new tax revenues for the city over the next 20 years.

Such figures are not to be sniffed at. For what started out as a rescue attempt by two neighbourhood residents (Hammond and Joshua David) with no design background, no plan and no money, has created the city's second most popular tourist attraction after the Museum of Modern Art. It is decisive evidence that it is increasingly the quality of our parks and public spaces, not the towering ambition of our skyline, that make our towns and cities stand out.

I don't know what else could possibly make a city consider plans for a park "as a public experience and urban mushroom farm," but that's precisely the result of a contest called A High Line For London. (For my part, I'd rather luxuriate atop abandoned elevated rail lines than in abandoned subterranean ones, but maybe they'll be laughing in London in 12 years, too—see also the "Low Line.")

Not to be missed on that site are the runners-up, which include double-decker buses with green roofs, sparrow colonies, and insect hotels. 

Photo via Flickr (cc) user David Berkowitz.