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The High Line

The Daily Plant : Thursday, June 11, 2009

First Section Of High Line Park Opens To The Public

The view from atop the newly-opened first section of the High Line.
Photo courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro

On Monday, June 8, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Friends of the High Line Co-Founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond, and government and community officials opened the first section of the High Line, the highly-anticipated, new public park built on top of a 1930s-era elevated rail line. The High Line is the first public park of its kind in the United States, built 30 feet above Manhattan’s West Side. The opening of the first half-mile section of the High Line is the culmination of more than three years of construction and ten years of planning.

“Rather than destroying this valuable piece of our history, we have recycled it into an innovative and exciting park that will provide more outdoor space for our citizens and create jobs and economic benefits for our City,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Ten years ago, detractors thought the High Line was an eyesore. Thankfully, there were a handful of people who looked at the High Line and saw also an extraordinary gift to our city’s future. Today, we will unwrap that gift.”

Access points to the High Line from street level are located at Gansevoort Street, 14th Street, 16th Street, 18th Street and 20th Street and will be open during the park’s operating hours, from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM. The High Line’s landscape is fully ADA-accessible, with an elevator at the 16th Street access point, and another at 14th Street to open in July. Visitor access may be limited during the High Line’s first summer season due to the anticipated high volume of visitors and the High Line’s limited capacity, as well as ongoing construction and horticulture work. During this opening season, visitors will be directed to enter the park at the Gansevoort Street access point, unless an elevator is needed.

The High Line’s design is inspired by the wild, self-seeded landscape that grew up naturally on the High Line when the trains stopped running in 1980. It retains the original railroad tracks from the industrial structure and restored steel elements including the High Line’s signature Art-Deco railings. An integrated system of concrete pathways, seating areas and special features blend with naturalistic planting areas to create a singular landscape.

“Today’s opening of the first section of the High Line demonstrates our commitment to finding innovative ways to continue adding open space to New York City,” said Commissioner Benepe. “Thanks to a fundamental partnership between City government, elected officials, and an extraordinary, grass-roots citizen organization, Friends of the High Line, this park project is the most exciting in generations. This new public park, elevated 30 feet above the ground, will serve a neighborhood in need of parkland and attract visitors from around the world.”

The total cost for Section One and Two of the High Line is $152.3 million. The design and construction cost of the section of the park that opened today is $86.2 million. Funding for the project includes $112.2 million from the City, $20.3 million from the federal government, and $400,000 from the State. Remaining funds will be raised privately by Friends of the High Line as part of their operating agreement with the City. To date, Friends of the High Line has raised $44 million in their capital campaign for the High Line.

“Ten years in the making, the High Line is a testament to what New Yorkers can accomplish if they dream big and work together,” said Friends of the High Line Co-Founder Robert Hammond, “In these challenging times, gifts like those from the Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation and Philip and Lisa Maria Falcone will allow us to finish construction on Section 2 and help build an endowment for the future maintenance of the High Line.”

With the opening of the first section of the High Line, Friends of the High Line, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, begins its role as the conservancy charged with maintaining and operating the High Line. Under a license agreement with the Parks Department, Friends of the High Line is responsible for raising the private funds for and staffing the High Line’s day to day maintenance and operations on behalf of the Parks Department, as well as public programming and outreach related to the park.

Friends of the High Line began advocating for the High Line’s reuse as public open space in 1999. In 2002, the Bloomberg Administration endorsed the project when it filed with the United States Surface Transportation Board requesting authorization to create a railbanked trail on the High Line. The Surface Transportation Board granted a Certificate of Interim Trail Use in June 2005. The High Line structure south of 30th Street was donated to the City of New York by CSX Transportation, Inc., in November 2005. Construction began on the High Line’s transformation into a public park in 2006.

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

“Criticism comes easier than craftsmanship.”

Zeuxis
(~400 BC)

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