I've been enjoying Monty Don's tour of World Gardens on the Beeb, despite far too many presenter shots (unfortunately a TV norm). But he really missed something special in New York.
In Manhattan he visited one of the first Community Gardens, one tiny strip besides a Lower East Side block. But running nearby like a green river through West Manhattan is one of the most exciting urban park/garden projects in the world: the High Line.
This is the abandoned elevated railway which runs 22 blocks to the Hudson River.
The structure was designed to go through the center of blocks, rather than over the avenue, to avoid creating the negative conditions associated with elevated subways. It connected directly to factories and warehouses, allowing trains to roll right inside the buildings. Milk, meat, produce, and raw and manufactured goods could come and go without causing any street-level traffic.Of course it was all set for demolition and redevelopment but New Yorkers fought (notably against Guiliani) and won it back for public space.
Now the whole length is being converted into a series of elevated gardens, meadows and parkland, with swimming pools, an amphitheater, even a beach, as well, in an immensely innovative way. 'The biggest opportunity for green space in Manhattan in 100 years'.
London actually has an elevated linear park in Mile End Park, which continues over a 'Green Bridge', designed by Piers Gough, to cross the main road.
Leeds wants to do something similar with an old viaduct. Paris already has the Promenade plantée connecting the Bastille with the eastern suburbs. Valencia' s Jardín del Turia is a similar 'linear park' through the heart of the city, there in a diverted river bed. Other cities like Chicago are looking at similar abandoned elevated railway conversions.
This strikes me as a very realistic, aesthetic, urban use of space and - Monty! - all about gardens.
Lots of creative New Yorkers — like film star Edward Norton — seem to be part of their giant community scheme. So, n'est ce pas, the video is good!
Here's more about The High Line.