High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky

Farrar. Straus and Giroux, 339 pp., $29.95 written by Joshua David and Robert Hammond reviewed by Katherine SilkaitiWhen New York City’s High Line opened in June 2009, it was the culmination of a decade’s worth of work spearheaded by two unlikely West Side residents. Joshua David, a travel journalist, and Robert Hammond, an entrepreneur, both wanted the city’s unused elevated freight line—which ran uninterrupted for more than 15 blocks—to be saved and repurposed, instead of torn down. High Line is David and Hammond’s story in their own words, accompanied by images of the High Line after its construction in the 1930s, its abandonment in the 1980s, and its rebirth as a public park.

The book serves as a blueprint for action and a call-to-arms for anyone engaged in civic activity. High Line captures the energy, dedication and passion David and Hammond had for their work, but also lays out their pitfalls and rocky moments. Perhaps most importantly for Philadelphia, High Line provides a detailed look at what’s involved in turning an elevated freight line into a park. Those interested in our city’s Reading Viaduct Project, organized to turn the abandoned Reading Viaduct into a High Line-like park, can look to this account for a vision of a potential final result.