Date of Award

6-2011

Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning

Department

City and Regional Planning

Advisor

Umut Toker

Abstract

As a result of economic, social, and cultural changes, cities across the country are looking to outdated and abandoned infrastructure for use as public space. The primary objective of this study is to comprehensively examine one such project, the High Line in New York City, to contribute to the body of literature related to urban transformation, reuse, and analogous projects. In this thesis, the High Line was analyzed as a case study and examined in-depth, through an array of data gathering methods. A historical study of the site was conducted through archival research. A typology, and subsequent description, of the key role-player involved with the project was also established through analysis of over 300 newspaper and blog sources. The design and creation process concludes the archival research portion of the study. Subsequently, the designed environment of the High Line was evaluated for its role as public space, measured against established principal elements found in urban design literature. Special attention was paid to the places where the former infrastructural use has been utilized to provide those public space elements. Behavior observations, surveys, and interviews helped determine how the space is used and perceived by its visitors. Research indicated that while the High Line looks different than traditional public space, it contains all the elements crucial to making public spaces successful. Additionally, it was discovered that the High Line influences perceptions of the City of New York, beyond the physical structure of the High Line. The final outcome of this study is a complete narrative portrait of the High Line from the creation and subsequent reuse, the influencing surrounding factors such as cultural context and physical setting, and how the space is actually used and perceived. The narrative informed implications on the utility of the High line model for other cities across looking to create similar reuse projects.

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