The High Line at the Rail Yards opened to the public (slide show)

Before work began on the third and final section of the High Line, New Yorkers got a chance to see the Rail Yards in a state of beautiful urban decay.

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  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

The High Line at the Rail Yards, October 2012

Over two weekends, the Friends of the High Line opened the final, undeveloped third section of the park to the public for self-guided tours. These excursions along the space, called the High Line at the Rail Yards, were sponsored by Uniqlo, and the first edition happened as part of Open House New York.


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This part of the former elevated railway is a half-mile, horseshoe-shaped section that starts at 36th Street at Eleventh Avenue and runs west to Twelfth Avenue. It then curves south past a train storage yard (and the site of the forthcoming Hudson Yards development) down to 34th Street, then back east to Tenth Avenue, where it joins up with the section two of the High Line.


These tours offered a chance to see the Rail Yards as only volunteers (who have worked on a recent trash cleanup) and graffiti writers have. Rusted steel barriers bore the art and tags of fence climbers—we saw ’06 and ’11 markings, suggesting the years they were made.


The section was overgrown with wildflowers and grasses, including Queen Anne's lace and white daisies. Another volunteer informed us that many of the plants that colonized the High Line weren't native to New York, with seeds coming in on trains that crossed the American plains destined for the Meatpacking District, or having been shipped over on boats from Europe.


Your next chance to visit the Rail Yards, barring one-off hard-hat tours, will be in 2014, when the first part is due for completion. (The third section will be completed in several stages.) Plans were on display during the tour, and we were particularly impressed with the sunken kids' play area (we believe kids should be neither seen nor heard—ideally, they should be kept in a hole until they're 21) and efforts to retain the tracks as a park feature, one idea being to encase them in rubber.



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