First published in 2012, On the High Line is the acclaimed, award-winning and definitive guide to the park that transformed an entire neighborhood and became an inspiration to cities around the globe. A second edition was published in 2014, and the third edition, fully revised and updated, will be published by Fordham University Press / Empire State Editions in May 2024, which marks the 15th year of the opening of the park (June 8, 2009) and the 90th year since the opening of the New York Central’s elevated freight railroad (June 28, 1934). All three editions include contributions — essays and photographs — by noted landscape ethicist and photographer Rick Darke.
Built atop a former freight railroad, the park is regularly cited as one of the premiere examples of adaptive reuse, and quickly became one of New York’s most popular destinations, attracting more than 8 million visitors a year. But beyond the numbers and the unceasing glare of worldwide publicity is another, more interesting, aspect of this place: the High Line tells a story, and walking the length of this 1.6-mile park provides a unique way to experience the many-layered narrative that makes up New York’s long, vibrant history. On the High Line was designed to serve as an ideal, educated travel companion, someone invisibly perched on a visitor’s shoulder who can answer every question about what we see as we wander through the park, and what was here before, moving back in time through the early 20th century, the Industrial Revolution, and the colonial and pre-European times when this stretch of what we call Manhattan was home to the Lenape people, and much of it was covered by the waters of the Hudson River.
In short entries organized by roughly two city block sections (there are nine, including the introductory section) the book explains everything you see on both sides of the park and what its role in the story of this place is, or was. Illustrated with more than 115 black & white photographs, the text covers historic and modern architecture; horticulture; the history of manufacturing and transportation, including the marriage of river and rail that drove the High Line’s early success; and technology innovations from the introduction of cold storage to the development of radar and talking movies.
The High Line is many things to many people: a linear park; a series of gardens (prairie grassland, woodland thicket, perennial meadow, bog); an outdoor art gallery; jogging trail; and, perhaps most of all, a peaceful respite from the heavily trafficked city below. It has also become a global symbol of the scourge of urban gentrification, and this too is an important part of the story that the new edition of On the High Line investigates.
This website, HighLineBook.com, was developed to mirror the sections of the book and, with page numbers for handy reference, offer a much wider range of photographs than a printed book can do: aerial, rooftop, historic, and contemporary, and covering everything a visitor encounters here: former industrial sites; horticulture; modern architecture; new parks on the Far West Side; monuments and landmarks along the Hudson River; piers, pile fields, and a salt marsh; contemporary art installations; architectural features of the park; curiosities in every neighborhood the High Line traverses (Greenwich Village, the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen); and much, much, more.