Behind the Image

The High Line, New York

Lionel Eid, George Garofalakis, Rosie Garvey and Alice Raggett

In use: Even in its narrow sections, the High Line is layered to allow different activities to coexist in parallel: from resting (left), to movement (middle) and play areas (right).


Details: The public realm celebrates unique aspects of the site. Historic railway lines and wheels are incorporated as details within the landscape and urban furniture.


Peak and off-peak: At its busiest, the High Line offers a range of spaces to accommodate relaxation and peak pedestrian flows. When all is quiet, an army of gardeners work to keep the park attractive and fit for purpose during all seasons.


Entertainment: The deliberate use of stepped seating and visual frames create a sense of performance in the streets below for the audience of High Line visitors.

Thresholds: As pedestrians walk along the promenade, they cross many thresholds: from compact urban environments to vast, unexpected vistas of the skyline.


Reflection: A programme of temporary artworks, seasonal planting and philanthropic sponsorship ensures that the High Line is constantly evolving and maintaining its appeal to locals and tourists. Occasionally, popularity is at odds with its delicate landscape edges where boundary wires and a high maintenance regime have been adopted.

Urban Design 148 - Autumn 2018 Publication Urban Design Group

As featured in Urban Design 148 - Autumn 2018

Want to read more like this? If you're not already an Urban Design Group member, why don't you consider joining?

A redundant elevated railway line stretching almost 1.5 miles along the west side of Manhattan, now converted into a linear pattern.

In each issue of Behind the Image, one of our contributors visits a recently designed public space from around the world. The photography tries to reveal an alternative perspective on a familiar precedent, famous space or place. These images illustrate how the public space works in practice, exploring its features (designed and unintended), and the way it relates to the surrounding context.