Here are all the city parks attempting to copy New York's High Line

Your very own High Line, also known as your back garden. Image: Fluteflute at Wikimedia Commons.

New York has an elevated park, and everyone else is jealous. In 2014, the final section of the city's High Line opened to the public: 1.45 miles worth of disused train track, transformed into a park and dotted with cafes and other fun outdoorsy things.

The High Line has been a success. Such a success, in fact, that scores of plans from all over the world have been proposed under the tag “the next High Line” – even those that are, basically, just a park that happens to be located somewhere vaguely near a train line. 

To track the spread of this trend, we’ve taken on the gargantuan task of logging these projects in full. You're welcome. We'll keep this post updated as more, inevitably, emerge.

And if you spot any that we've missed? Drop us a line

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Click for a larger image. Credit: Fletcher Priest Architects.

The plan: Loathe to be outdone by our friends across the Atlantic, London’s city government held a competition to design “London’s High Line”. This design won, with its idyllic vision of, er, a "mushroom-strewn subterranean walkway" through disused Royal Mail tunnels.

Will it actually happen? Nope. The competitions organisers said they just wanted to generate debate.

Any similarity to the actual High Line? Not really. Walking through a dimly-lit row of mushrooms is definitely not the same as to strolling through a lovely park.

London’s High Line

Click for a larger image. Credit: What if: projects.

The plan: Yes, another one. This one's a nature walk atop the Limehouse Curve viaduct in Tower Hamlets.

Will it actually happen? The project’s architects haven’t found any funding yet, though Tower Hamlets council have said they support the idea (not with cash, mind).

Any similarities to the original High Line? The concept’s the same, but at only 120m this version would be much shorter. More of a High Dot.

The Peckham Coal Line

Click for a larger image. Credit: Peckham Coal Line.

The plan: A High Line for London. Because no one’s thought of that already. This one's on a stretch of disused track, which lies alongside a stretch of very much used track.

Will it actually happen? Again, enthusiasm but no money. The architect, who designed the project at university, plans to ask National Rail for a lease later this year and then find sponsors.

Any similarities to the original High Line? Probably the only London-based proposal deserving of the comparison  – it’s a 1km long park on a train line.

The Underline

Click for a larger image. Credit: Gensler.

The plan: Turn abandoned tube tunnels into bike lanes, pedesrian walkways, and areas for cafes and businesses. 

Will it actually happen? The plan won Best Conceptual Project at the London Planning Awards, but there's no costed plan as yet. 

Any similarity to the actual High Line? Like the High Line, it would put a large, unused rail network to good use - but it's underground, so overall not that similar.

The Garden Bridge

 

Click for a larger image. Credit: Heatherwick Studio.

The planA foliage-covered bridge over the Thames betwen Temple and the South Bank. It will be closed to cyclists, closed at night, and closed whenever the Garden Bridge trust fancies holding a fundraising event.

Will it actually happen? The project's currently making its way through the upper echelons of City Hall, but it seems likely. 

Any similarities to the original High Line? It's a long, thin park, but it misses out the best aspect of the High Line: reuse of existing, abandoned infrastructure. Instead, they're building a brand new £175m bridge. 

The Manchester Maze

Click for a larger image. Credit: Barton Willmore.

The plan: A park with cafés,  public art and a community garden atop a run of bridges and embankments between Manchester and Salford.

Will it actually happen? The Manchester Evening News quotes loads of experts who say it's a good idea, but then asked City Hall, who said they "don't have the money" unless private investment steps in. 

Any similarities to the original High Line?  Yep – it's a multi-use park on disused industrial infrastructure. Good work, Manchester.

The Flyover Liverpool 

 

Click for a larger image. Credit: Friends of the Flyover.

The plan: Turn a concrete flyover network in central Liverpool into a walkway, park and .

Will it actually happen? The city already has plans to remove traffic from the flyover roads, and Friends of the Flyover, the proposers, have raised their goal of £40,000 through crowdfunding website Spacehive. The flyover project would be much cheaper than demolishing the roads, so there's a good chance the city council will agree. 

Any similarities to the original High Line?  It's elevated, but not on train infrastructure. Halfway there.

h/t Andrew Foulkes. 

The Holbeck Highline

Click for a larger image. Credit: Holbeck Highline.

The plan: To turn a Leeds viaduct into a walking and cycle path. This was actually proposed back in the 90s, but plans were dropped due to lack of funding. Now, a group of locals are hoping to do it themselves.

Will it actually happen? The group are waiting to hear back from the planners behind HS2 on whether the viaduct line will be needed for the new line. If not, they'll crack on with negotiations with Network Rail. 

Any similarities to the original High Line?  It's a very close fit - a walking and cycle path on elevated ex-train infrastructure. 

h/t Peter Skalski.

Leith Walk

 

Click for a larger image. Credit: Biomorphis.

The plan: A half kilometre of bike paths and gardens to connect up cycle routes in the Edinburgh district of Leith. The path would be built using reclaimed railway sleepers.  

Will it actually happen? A cost analysis in December 2014 showed that the project would cost around £4.8 m - the jury's out on whether local government will ever cough up the money. 

Any similarities to the original High Line?  It's much shorter, but is elevated and would create a new route through the city. 

The Lowline

Click for a larger image. Credit: Lowline.

The plan: Greedy New Yorkers now want another high-concept park, this time in an empty streetcar terminal under the Lower East Side. 

Will it actually happen? It has some high-profile fans, including Spike Jonze and Lena Dunham, but it still needs funding. The plan also relies on “solar collectors”, which funnel sunlight underground and sound both complicated and expensive. 

Any similarities to the original High Line?  No. It is literally the opposite of the High Line. 

The QueensWay

Click for a larger image. Credit: QueensWay.

The plan: A park on an abandoned 3.5 mile stretch of the Long Island Railroad in Queens.

Will it actually happen? Er, probably not. According to NBC, the park’s organisers have only raised one per cent of the money needed, and Mayor Bill de Blasio hasn’t so far stepped forward in support of the project.

Any similarities to the original High Line? Its supporters call it “the High Line on steroids” – it’s twice as long, and seven times as large. So if it went ahead, this would basically be High Line 2: The Outer Boroughs' Revenge.

The Harlem Promenade

Click for a larger image. Credit: Harlem Promenade group.

The plan: Affordable housing and green space on abandoned Amtrak rail lines in Harlem.

Will it actually happen? Organisers want to raise the cash by selling the City-owned "air rights” alongside the tracks to developers hoping to build tall buildings.  Which does sound like it could actually work.

Any similarities to the original High Line? Yes, it's a park on an abandoned – oh, you know the drill by now. The affordable housing bit is a nice addition, though. 

A garden on the roof of JFK Airport

Click for a larger image. Credit: JetBlue.

The plan: A garden on the roof of the airport’s $200m Terminal 5 extension.

Will it actually happen? It’s allegedly opening in early 2015.  

Any similarities to the original High Line? The architect said the roof would be “a lot like the High Line, but not so industrial”. Mostly, though it sounds an awful lot like a normal roof garden.  

The 11th Street Bridge

Click for a larger image. Credit: OLIN/OMA.

The plan: A park on an abandoned highway bridge in Washington D.C. including a public plaza, amphitheatre, rain gardens (?) and waterfalls (!).  

Will it actually happen? Yes – the project will be funded by the district government and a local nonprofit,   

Any similarities to the original High Line? It’s a park on a bridge. Please, can we just leave it at that.  

The Underline

Click for a larger image. Credit: The Underline/Anna Baez.

The Plan: A park under a ten-mile stretch of elevated metro track in Miami.

Will it actually happen? The city government is consulting with developers, and so it seems likely that it will get built.

Any similarities to the original High Line? Granted, it follows a transport route, but in the end this is just a normal park on the ground.

The Edmonton Freezeway 

 

Click for a larger image. Credit: Matt Gibbs.

The PlanA seven mile ice skating path in the Canadian city of Edmonton, built on disused rail tracks. 

Will it actually happen?  One city councillor called it the stupidest idea they'd heard in 30 years, so it seems unlikely. As plans go, though, this one would be pretty cheap and could double up as cycle paths in summer. 

Any similarities to the original High Line? It's a cross between an ice rink and a cycle lane. So no. 

The Goods Line

Click for a larger image. Credit: Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority.

The PlanTo convert unused goods rail lines in Sydney, Australia into public spaces.

Will it actually happen? Construction on the project began in March 2014, and it was actually meant to complete at the same time as Frank Gehry's paper bag-esque Dr Chau Chak Wing at Sydney's University of Technology (just visible to the left in the image above). The city's also looking into extending the scheme further 

Any similarities to the original High Line? As a public space atop unused elevated rail infrastructure, it's probably the closest of the lot - especially as it is actually being built.

h/t Robbie Moore.

Minhocão

Minhocão on a car-free day. Click for a larger image. Credit: Yvone Delpoio at Flickr.

The Plan: To turn a stretch of Sao Paolo’s elevated motorway (known as the Minhocão, or “Big Worm”) into an elevated park. It’s already closed on Sundays and at night, and locals use it for exercise and cultural events while it’s shut.

Will it actually happen? The plan first surfaced in 1987, but the success of New York’s version has brought it back onto the agenda. Politicians are currently divided between demolishing the highway altogether or turning it into a public space.

Any similarities to the original High Line? It was proposed long before the High Line and, to be honest, it actually sounds way better – it’s accessible from many densely-packed neighbourhoods and could act as a kind of Central Park for the city.

Seoul’s elevated pedestrian park

Click for a larger image. Credit: Seoul Metropolitan Government.

The plan: The South Korean city is planning to turn a major road in the business district into a 1km long park.

Will it actually happen? Yep – the city government’s already drawn up the plans, and have an excellent record on getting rid of noisy elevated highways (they’ve demolished around 15 since 2002).

Any similarities to the original High Line? It’s pretty similar, but has the added benefit that they’re closing a fully operational road to do it, rather than waiting for it to be closed for other reasons. Good on you, Seoul.

Rome's High Line

The plan: An elevated park and walkway on a mile of unfinished elevated tram track about 45 minutes drive from Rome's centre. 

Will it actually happen? It's already underway. Under the eye of starchitect Renzo Piano, junior architects have cleared rubbish out of the abandoned tram station and transformed it into a community space. Now, they're hoping for around $600,000 from City Hall to spruce up the track itself. 

Any similarities to the original High Line? It's a park on unfinished infrastructure, rather than old and disused track, but in Rome this is particularly apt: the city, especially at its edges, is littered with unfinished public projects. 

Santiago's Origami High Line

Click for a larger image. Credit: Architects of Invention.


The plan: This is a proposal for a new public plaza in Santiago, capital of Chile. It's basically a big red zigzag which would be used as a raised walkway over a park.

Will it actually happen? It was submitted as part of a design competition for the plaza, so its fate is in the city government's hands. 

Any similarities to the original High Line? It will be purpose built, for a start, which goes against one of the High Line's main purposes: to re-use old infrastructure. Also, call us harsh, but this design seems largely pointless: why do you need a walkway bridge over some other walkways? 

 

Spotted any others? Drop us a line

 
 
 
 

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Seoul Metro System but were too afraid to ask

Gwanghwamoon subway station on line 5 in Seoul, 2010. Image: Getty.

Seoul’s metro system carries 7m passengers a day across 1,000 miles of track. The system is as much a regional commuter railway as an urban subway system. Without technically leaving the network, one can travel from Asan over 50 miles to the south of central Seoul, all the way up to the North Korean border 20 miles north of the city.

Fares are incredibly low for a developed country. A basic fare of 1,250 won (about £1) will allow you to travel 10km; it’s only an extra 100 won (about 7p) to travel every additional 5km on most lines.

The trains are reasonably quick: maximum speeds of 62mph and average operating speeds of around 20mph make them comparable to London Underground. But the trains are much more spacious, air conditioned and have wi-fi access. Every station also has protective fences, between platform and track, to prevent suicides and accidents.

The network

The  service has a complex system of ownership and operation. The Seoul Metro Company (owned by Seoul City council) operates lines 5-8 on its own, but lines 1-4 are operated jointly with Korail, the state-owned national rail company. Meanwhile, Line 9 is operated jointly between Trans-Dev (a French company which operates many buses in northern England) and RATP (The Parisian version of TfL).

Then there’s Neotrans, owned by the Korean conglomerate Doosan, which owns and operates the driverless Sinbundang line. The Incheon city government, which borders Seoul to the west, owns and operates Incheon Line 1 and Line 2.

The Airport Express was originally built and owned by a corporation jointly owned by 11 large Korean firms, but is now mostly owned by Korail. The Uijeongbu light railway is currently being taken over by the Uijeongbu city council (that one’s north of Seoul) after the operating company went bankrupt. And the Everline people mover is operated by a joint venture owned by Bombardier and a variety of Korean companies.

Seoul’s subway map. Click to expand. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

The rest of the lines are operated by the national rail operator Korail. The fare structure is either identical or very similar for all of these lines. All buses and trains in the region are accessible with a T-money card, similar to London’s Oyster card. Fares are collected centrally and then distributed back to operators based on levels of usage.

Funding

The Korean government spends around £27bn on transport every year: that works out at 10 per cent more per person than the British government spends.  The Seoul subway’s annual loss of around £200m is covered by this budget.

The main reason the loss is much lower than TfL’s £458m is that, despite Seoul’s lower fares, it also has much lower maintenance costs. The oldest line, Line 1 is only 44 years old.


Higher levels of automation and lower crime rates also mean there are fewer staff. Workers pay is also lower: a newly qualified driver will be paid around £27,000 a year compared to £49,000 in London.

New infrastructure is paid for by central government. However, investment in the capital does not cause the same regional rivalries as it does in the UK for a variety of reasons. Firstly, investment is not so heavily concentrated in the capital. Five other cities have subways; the second city of Busan has an extensive five-line network.

What’s more, while investment is still skewed towards Seoul, it’s a much bigger city than London, and South Korea is physically a much smaller country than the UK (about the size of Scotland and Wales combined). Some 40 per cent of the national population lives on the Seoul network – and everyone else who lives on the mainland can be in Seoul within 3 hours.

Finally, politically the biggest divide in South Korea is between the south-west and the south-east (the recently ousted President Park Geun-Hye won just 11 per cent of the vote in the south west, while winning 69 per cent in the south-east). Seoul is seen as neutral territory.  

Problems

A driverless train on the Shinbundang Line. Image: Wikicommons.

The system is far from perfect. Seoul’s network is highly radial. It’s incredibly cheap and easy to travel from outer lying areas to the centre, and around the centre itself. But travelling from one of Seoul’s satellite cities to another by public transport is often difficult. A journey from central Goyang (population: 1m) to central Incheon (population: 3m) is around 30 minutes by car. By public transport, it takes around 2 hours. There is no real equivalent of the London Overground.

There is also a lack of fast commuter services. The four-track Seoul Line 1 offers express services to Incheon and Cheonan, and some commuter towns south of the city are covered by intercity services. But most large cities of hundreds of thousands of people within commuting distance (places comparable to Reading or Milton Keynes) are reliant on the subway network, and do not have a fast rail link that takes commuters directly to the city centre.

This is changing however with the construction of a system modelled on the Paris RER and London’s Crossrail. The GTX will operate at maximum speed of 110Mph. The first line (of three planned) is scheduled to open in 2023, and will extend from the new town of Ilsan on the North Korean border to the new town of Dongtan about 25km south of the city centre.

The system will stop much less regularly than Crossrail or the RER resulting in drastic cuts in journey times. For example, the time from llsan to Gangnam (of Gangnam Style fame) will be cut from around 1hr30 to just 17 minutes. When the three-line network is complete most of the major cities in the region will have a direct fast link to Seoul Station, the focal point of the GTX as well as the national rail network. A very good public transport network is going to get even better.