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We present some of his comments to you, as recorded during a talk Vignelli gave earlier this year at the New York City Transit Museum. When the NY MTA hired Vignelli to develop a new plan for subterranean navigation, he was tasked with streamlining the wayfinding process for riders and bringing New York into the future. Train routes were straightened into neat angles to make a tidy diagram out of the actual snarl of criss-crossing tunnels. However beautiful, it is geographically abstract, bearing only inadvertent resemblance to the actual street grid above. For example, the Vignelli map portrays the 50th St stop on the Seventh Ave line, now the 1 train, to be west of the 50th St stop on the Eighth Avenue line, now part of the C and E, confusing New Yorkers with hardened mental pictures of the city in their mind and sending tourists wandering westward into Hells Kitchen hunting for non-existent subway stops. Just seven years after it was released, the MTA replaced Vignelli's “diagram,” as he calls it (because maps only represent geography) with a more traditional map.
New York City's latest attraction just opened on June 8, 2009, so naturally I had to give it a try.
UPDATE: On May 4, 2012 I walked the High Line again, from 14th Street to 23rd Street, on my way to the Avedon photo exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery on West 21st Street, practically under the High Line. The map above shows both the currently opened section, from Gansevoort Street north to 20th Street, and the section north of that to 30th Street which should open next year.
Leaving Gansevoort Street (photo, above), we climbed the stairway (there are also elevators at 14th and 16th streets) some thirty feet to the linear park.
At 15th Street the trail cuts through the old Chelsea Market Building, formerly a Nabisco factory. The High Line crosses Tenth Avenue around 17th Street, and a section of the structure has been lowered in steps to form a viewing platform looking out across the midtown skyline. Strolling through the Chelsea Grasslands leads to the present northern terminus at 20th Street. In the mid-1930s passenger ships were moved north to new, larger piers around 50th Street, and the Chelsea Piers reduced to cargo handling as well as World War II troop ships. We ended our day of exploring the High Line and Chelsea Piers by visiting a few of the sports facilities spread over 28 acres above the Hudson River.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. Designer Massimo Vignelli's clean modern lines and bold colors changed the branding of the subway in 1972 and elevated the map to the level of modern art. With the help of a new design team, he created “The Weekender,” a digital interactive subway map directly inspired by the 1972 hand-drawn diagram.
Imagine an elevated park, 30 feet above street level, winding its way through Lower Manhattan and piercing right through buildings. It's amazing to see just how much this elevated park has been extended and improved, with many snack vendors along the route!
Its history actually goes all the way back to 1849, when the Hudson River Railroad ran a street-level line to the junction of Chambers and Hudson streets. We got there from Penn Station via the 8th Avenue subway to 14th Street, then walked three blocks to the southwest. Another section, from 30th Street northwest by the Penn Station Rail Yards is under negotiation with its owners, the CSX railroad. From here a paved pedestrian walkway leads north to the end, bordered on the sides by remnants of the abandoned rail line.
Most of these were once industrial structures and warehouses, with rail sidings leading in at the third-floor level.
A glass wall prevents those carried away by the view from falling off and tumbling down to the streets below. Nearly demolished in the early 1990s, they were saved by the abandonment of the Westway Project, and now form a major sports and entertainment complex.
Among the many activities available are gymnastics, soccer, basketball, rock climbing, a golf driving range, health club, and more. Its locomotives tended to frighten horses, so each train was preceeded by a man on horseback blowing a horn.

Some of them have recently been converted into highly desirable loft apartments, and others into art galleries. This was the destination in 1912 of the Titanic, which of course sank on its maiden voyage, and it was here that its 706 survivors arrived aboard the RMS Carpathia. But after shooting a few hoops my companions agreed with me that a visit to the Chelsea Brewing Company at the southern end of the complex was in order. His map lasted just seven years before confused passengers convinced the MTA to replace it. As the city grew and motor traffic replaced horses, this became more than a nuisance and a very real safety concern. Here, a stairway (photo, above) leads up to the park with its magnificent views across the Hudson River to Hoboken, New Jersey.
Three years later the RMS Lusitania (photo, right) sailed from these piers on its fateful journey to England. There we had sandwiches and a variety of craft beers brewed on the spot before returning to Penn Station for the train ride home. Vignelli still staunchly defends his design, and in doing so, has offered some choice observations about other versions.
By the late 1920s congestion had become so bad that it was decided to elevate the rail line, then owned by the New York Central Railroad. It was torpedoed by the German Navy off the coast of Ireland with great loss of life, an event that hastened America's entry into World War I. Slated for demolition, the High Line was saved by activist citizens and in 2006 restoration by the city began.

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