Since 2009, Manhattan’s West Side has operated at two main heights: street level, where the urban realm does its best to balance sidewalks and car lanes, and the elevated High Line, a converted train track where plants and pedestrians reign supreme.
Earlier this summer, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and James Corner Field Operations introduced the latest extension to the popular greenway. Dubbed The High Line – Moynihan Connector, the project encompasses two pedestrian bridges. While their total footprint is relatively small — adding just 183 metres to the High Line’s 2.3-kilometre stretch — they nevertheless go a long way in strengthening the linear park’s links to its surrounding urban realm.
Pedestrians can now move directly from Moynihan Train Hall (another SOM project that opened in 2019) to the High Line Spur, which served as the linear park’s previous terminus. To enable this seamless journey, the two new bridges — Timber Bridge and Woodland Bridge — have been installed perpendicular to one another.
Running along Dyer Avenue, the 79-metre-long glulam Timber Bridge uses sustainably sourced Alaskan yellow cedar from B.C. to form large Warren trusses. The design’s angled arrangement of 163 beams distributes load in such a way that the bridge could be installed with only a few Y-shaped steel supports — minimizing disruption to the busy road below. Its trusses are also meant to evoke traditional rail bridges, nodding to the High Line’s past life.
Meanwhile, the 104-metre-long Woodland Bridge runs along 30th Street and acts as a new lead-in to the High Line’s verdant trail. To flow into the linear park’s landscaping, the bridge features its own lush assortment of trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials. By exposing the angled bracket arms that support the bridge, the designers sought to draw attention to the varying depths of the soil beds installed below, which support healthy root systems.
Despite their differences, the two bridges still have a couple things in common: both feature Corten steel decking and bronze handrails. In this way, they reinforce their main mission: a sense of connection.
A pair of elegant footbridges saves transit riders from having to navigate stairs and street traffic on their way to the elevated parkway.