The High Line, opened in 1934, was an elevated freight rail line built to eliminate the many dangerous street-level railroad crossings that once existed along Manhattan's West Side. After thriving for a couple of decades, it began to fall out of use as trucking became the country's dominant mode of freight transportation. No trains have run on the line since the last three cars of frozen turkeys rumbled down its tracks back in 1980. Following a quarter-century of (glorious) abandonment, and occasional threats of demolition, it was repurposed as a mile-long park (with another half-mile or so in the works), and its innovative design and landscaping have been a huge hit with the public. (Pictured here is the street theater, where you can sit and watch — and be watched by — the street.)
Those who found their way onto the High Line during its decades of disuse were rewarded with an extraordinary, magical sense of wild solitude amidst (and just above) the frenetic commotion of the city, but today that same structure is often more crowded and bustling than the streets below. The evolution of this vibrant public space is an inspiring story in many ways, but it's also always a little sad to see an authentic hidden treasure like the High Line — a place that requires some active effort to explore and appreciate and love — exposed to the world and transformed into something deemed more worthwhile.