In New York City, there was a train track that once felt important. And rightly so, as it was needed. Proudly it stretched its shiny steel tracks from the West into town, carrying loads and loads of freight trains every day between the city and a growing industrial area. Being ready for any kind of transportation was its sole purpose. For sixty years it felt necessary, and cared for.
Then, one morning just like any other morning, there were no more trains. No more light signals and no more buzz at the end station. Nobody showed up. Nobody showed up for such a long time that the shiny steel began to rust. Then nobody showed up to care for the always-ready, hard-working track. There were roads, you see. Alternate routes. Changes in urban planning. The poor track was not needed anymore. Nobody even needed the steel or the ground for anything, so people just forgot about it in a New York minute (snap).
Weed started to push through between the ballast and the wooden sleepers. Just a few curious herbs at first – followed by a bunch of others. And then, slowly, a sapling tree found itself growing in the middle of New York City, in a sky garden above the ground.
What to do with all that green in the middle of NYC? With campaigning and some luck, some spirited people converted it into a protected park. In doing so they did not uproot the tough little weeds and plants and trees, but kept much of the original flora. For kids growing up in the City it is inspiring to know that when Nature manages to push through, these are the plants and flowers and trees that grab foothold. And the old train track is proudly stretching itself again, covered in lush greenery.
I walked the High Line in its entirety: over 2 km of urban garden. If greenery is not incorporated into the original urban plan (like it wasn’t in most of NYC), creative rescue solutions like the High Line are probably the best second alternative. And I was happy to walk on the old rails and know they had a purpose once again – and this time hopefully for longer than just sixty years.(New York City, USA; May 2018)