In 1847, New York City authorized street level rails to be installed and used to ship freight in Manhattan’s lower west side. With the number of accidents between trains and other traffic rising with the population, and in 1929, the city decided to elevate the tracks, which eliminated 105 street level crossings. The 1.45 mile long elevated rail opened to trains in 1934. It was built over the centre of blocks so it could connect directly to factories and warehouses. The rise of the trucking industry greatly decreased the railway traffic in the 1950s and the last train passed over the tracks in 1980.

The elevated railway were unused until 2006, when they were donated to the city by CSX Transportation Inc. and construction began the redesigning of the railway into an aerial park. The Highline’s first phase opened in 2009, with a second and third opening in 2011 and 2014. The elevated greenway has over 200 species of naturalized plants, inspired by the landscape that had overtaken the unused lands. There are several stretches of railroad track along the pathway to emphasize its former use.