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NYguy Nov 1, 2006 1:18 PM

NEW YORK | Redevelopment of the High Line
The redevelopment of the elevated rail line on Manhattan's west side into a park has begun. Below are some images taken from the site of Friends of the High Line...

Rails, embedded in concrete, await removal at 13th Street, looking South

Soil and gravel ballast, after rails have been removed at 14th Street

Gravel ballast is piled up at 17th Street, where the High Line narrows

Wooden railroad ties are piled up for removal

High Line spurs across 10th Avenue, looking South

Removal of gravel ballast exposes the top layer of concrete

Rails are stored and stacked

All rail sections have been mapped and tagged prior to removal

Frank Gehry's IAC Headquarters, under construction on 19th Street

Looking North from 19th Street where the High Line narrows

A front-end loader is lifted onto the High Line for the beginning of Site Preparation

NYguy Nov 1, 2006 1:43 PM

An idea of what the completed project could look like...

NYguy Nov 1, 2006 2:04 PM

WonderlandPark Nov 5, 2006 2:02 AM

This is such a friggin' cool project.

What is the 'open to public' date?

NYguy Nov 5, 2006 1:21 PM


Originally Posted by WonderlandPark
This is such a friggin' cool project.
What is the 'open to public' date?

It really is one of the coolest projects underway in New York right now, even though we don't talk about it much. It will be sort of an urban version of the boardwalk/promenade/whatever else they can cram up there.

As far as opening, here's a little on that from the press release:


This first section of the park will run from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street, and is projected to open in Spring 2008.

Construction will start with site preparation (2006-7), which includes removal of rail tracks and ballast, comprehensive waterproofing, and stripping and painting of all steel. This will be followed by construction of the public landscape (2007-8), which includes access systems (stairs and elevators), pathways, plantings, seating, lighting, safety enhancements and other features. A preliminary design for the first phase of the High Line's transformation, by the design team of Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, can be viewed at The design will continue to evolve as the project moves through site preparation to the start of construction of the public landscape.

NYguy Nov 5, 2006 1:27 PM

An idea of the area it covers...

And maps:

NYguy Nov 5, 2006 6:28 PM

Chelsea Now

November 3 — November 9, 2006

Camera kids capture High Line and ’hood

By Lawrence Lerner

Corinne Stonebraker doesn’t usually let her 4-year-old brother, Jonas, play with her toys. But this summer, the budding 7-year-old photographer from Jackson Heights, Queens, was all too happy to let him ride her scooter as she snapped photos of him in various spots near the High Line.

“I thought it was really cool to be a photographer. I took pictures of lots of things,” said Stonebraker, whose parents are ardent supporters of Friends of the High Line, the nonprofit dedicated to converting the railway into a 1.4-mile elevated park. Stonebraker takes art classes in Chelsea, where her parents met at a School of Visual Arts program on 21st St. and where they frequently return; Chelsea remains very much a part of their lives.

Stonebraker was part of a special project run by F.H.L., which teamed up with Fujifilm this summer to give one-time-use cameras to kids who live and play in the High Line neighborhoods of the West Village and Chelsea. The project culminated in an online exhibit at Friends of the High Line’s Web site, along with an exhibit of more than 80 photos in the Concourse Gallery at Chelsea Market, which runs through Nov. 12.

The approximately 100 children from age 3 to 12 who took part came from The Hudson Guild and Chelsea Recreation Center summer camps, as well as from families who have been longtime supporters of F.H.L. More than half reside in the Chelsea Elliot and Fulton Houses, nearby public housing.
“What’s important is to acknowledge everyone in the High Line neighborhoods,” said Meredith Taylor, the special projects manager for F.H.L. who ran the photo project. “To do that well, you need to approach kids with a variety of experiences.”

F.H.L. had a simple goal in mind when it conceived the project: Rather than offer a photo class, it wanted to experiment by putting cameras in the hands of kids and letting them run wild, giving them full control of what to photograph and how.

“We wanted to allow kids to show us the neighborhoods through their eyes, to show us what is important to them, and to show another angle besides the restaurants and boutiques now associated with the area,” said Taylor.

The result was an array of images whose breadth and quality impressed all of the adults involved.

“These kids are taking all kinds of shots — of their families, the neighborhood, where they play,” said Michael Ginsburg, director of marketing and events at Chelsea Market, who helped oversee the exhibit. “The final product is not childish but childlike, which, if you think about it, is what we all strive to be. We do a lot of kids shows, and I think we got really good photos in this one.”

Not surprisingly, being part of the process was as important for the kids as the final outcome. According to Erin Vega, coordinator of the Chelsea Recreation Center Summer Camp, merely being in possession of a camera was enough to make most of the children giddy.

“Kids aren’t usually trusted with cameras. Adults are too worried they’ll break them or push the wrong button and waste film,” she said. “Our kids treated the cameras very well because someone trusted them. They took great care taking pictures because they felt like it was an important thing they were chosen to do. Just holding a camera with their name on it made them smile.”

The photo project was part of F.H.L.’s larger children’s education initiative, which is now in its fifth year and has taken the organization into neighborhood afterschool programs and, as of this year, into High Line-area schools, such as the New York City Lab School for Collaborative Studies.

“We teach kids about the history of the High Line, do art projects and build models with them, and talk about the plant life up there,” said Taylor. “We also talk about why it was built in the first place and how the community came together to preserve it as a park.”

By working with children, F.H.L. hopes to cultivate a diverse range of park users now, which Taylor insists will pay off in the long run.

“When the High Line finally opens, we hope it will attract all kinds of people: people who are railroad buffs, people who go to art galleries, kids from the Chelsea and Fulton Houses who bring their parents, our e-mail list supporters, all kinds of folks. By educating people about the High Line now, hopefully all those people will come and use the park.”

Lecom Nov 6, 2006 12:34 AM

Those kids get much respect for me, and so does whoever came up with the idea for that project.

NYguy Nov 6, 2006 1:13 PM


Originally Posted by Lecom
Those kids get much respect for me, and so does whoever came up with the idea for that project.

It was me, so thanks...:)

Derek Nov 7, 2006 6:02 AM

wow thats very impressive!!! but i still think gehrys building is butt ugly!!! but this is indeed a very cool project

NYguy Nov 8, 2006 1:09 AM

Pigeons Are Disturbing High Line Development

October 26, 2006

High Line photos aren't exactly rare, but, since we happened to be on a nearby roof recently, we took a few.

It looks like we were onto something. According to Katie Lorah, media and project manager for Friends of the High Line, a new construction phase has begun. Deterring birds is one aspect of it: Pigeons are roosting in the beams, damaging concrete and steel and creating "unpleasant" conditions below. To read about the new phase, called "Site Preparation," check out this week's newsletter.

And the mess under the High Line is the footprint for Andre Balazs' new hotel, The Standard, which will jut through the elevated park.

NYguy Nov 28, 2006 5:10 PM

NY Times

Whitney’s Expansion Plans Are Shifting South, to the Meatpacking District

Whitney Museum is planning a branch at the High Line park

November 28, 2006

A month after the Dia Art Foundation scrapped its plans to open a museum at the entrance to the High Line, the abandoned elevated railway line that the city is transforming into a public park, the Whitney Museum of American Art has signed on to take its place and build a satellite institution of its own downtown.

The Whitney recently reached a conditional agreement on Wednesday night with the city’s Economic Development Corporation to buy the city-owned site, at Gansevoort and Washington streets, officials at the museum said yesterday. Plans call for the new museum to be at least twice the size of the Whitney’s home on Madison Avenue at 75th Street, they said, and to be finished within the next five years.

The deal, which has still to go through a public review process before it is final, puts an end to the Whitney’s plan to for a nine-story addition by the architect Renzo Piano that would connect to the museum’s original 1966 Marcel Breuer building via a series of glass bridges. It will be the third time in 11 years that the museum has commissioned a celebrity architect to design a major expansion to its landmark building, only to pull out.

“This is a more prudent step to take,” Leonard A. Lauder, chairman of the Whitney’s board, said by telephone yesterday. “Yet it is an adventurous step. We think the new site will have a big enough impact so that it will become a destination.”

The museum’s director, Adam D. Weinberg, said the new museum would not only offer more gallery space but would also be less expensive. “We know it will be cheaper per square foot than uptown, but we don’t know what it will cost,” he said. (The uptown expansion was expected to cost more than $200 million.) Mr. Piano has agreed to design the new museum. Although no architectural plans have been drawn up, the future museum is loosely estimated to afford at least 200,000 square feet.

Kate D. Levin, the city’s cultural affairs commissioner, called the agreement “a wonderful moment” but cautioned, “It is a preliminary moment.” If all goes as planned, she said, “it will let a museum grow and flourish” as well as provide an anchor to the city’s High Line project.

In addition to attracting a broader audience, having a site downtown will allow the museum space to build larger galleries without the constraints of building in a historic district. Sweeping galleries are generally needed to show much of the latest art being produced today.

Compared with around 65,000 square feet of gallery space in the uptown Piano addition, the High Line site will have about 100,000 to 150,000 square feet of gallery space, Mr. Weinberg said. The current Breuer building has some 30,000 square feet.

Mr. Lauder said: “The key word here is footprint. We will be able to stage shows horizontally rather than vertically.” Previous uptown expansions jettisoned by the Whitney include a $37 million addition by Michael Graves canceled in 1985 and a $200 million design by Rem Koolhaas scrapped in 2003.

Mr. Piano’s project met with heated opposition from preservationists who objected to the elimination of brownstone facades on Madison Avenue, part of the Upper East Side Historic District. After the Whitney agreed to maintain that facade, the project was approved in July by the city’s Board of Standards.

In addition to a second site the Whitney is also planning to upgrade the Breuer building significantly, with improvements like new, double-glazed windows and a better climate control system, Mr. Lauder said.

“The Breuer building is now 40 years old, and a lot of technology has happened since it was built,” Mr. Lauder said. “It is our iconic building, and we are planning to put a lot of money into it.” While he said it was too early to say just how much “a lot” is, he estimated the cost of refurbishing the building at $20 million to $40 million.

While taking note of the creation of dual-site museums like the Tate in London and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Mr. Weinberg said the Whitney was hoping to invent a model of its own. “We are envisioning both sites will show contemporary and historic art,” he said.

The Whitney will continue to devote itself to American art, he said, but “it will be American art in the broadest sense seen within an international context.” In addition to providing room to spread out, he added, the downtown space will allow the museum to keep adding to its collection.

Mr. Weinberg said the museum intended to strengthen its performing arts, education and film programs, which will all be based downtown.

While Dia had planned to lease the downtown site from the city, the Whitney’s deal calls for buying 820 Washington Street and 555 West Street, abandoned shell structures adjacent to each another. The city will charge the Whitney roughly half the appraised value of the two buildings, said Jan Rothschild, a spokeswoman for the Whitney.

“We like the character and the grittiness of the neighborhood,” Mr. Weinberg said of the meatpacking district. “We want to keep the museum as low as possible.” Plans call for about 15,000 square feet of meat market space as well as offices for the High Line in the complex.

Rather than dwell on the death blow to the Piano addition, Whitney officials sought to portray the move as a homecoming of sorts. The institution, which began in Greenwich Village in 1918 as the Whitney Studio Club, became the Whitney Museum in 1931.

“We’re returning to our roots,” Mr. Weinberg said. “So much of the first half of our collection was made around 14th Street and below, and so many artists whose works we have live within a 20-block radius. We see this as reconnecting with the artists’ community.”

danger_doug Nov 30, 2006 5:24 AM

As a kid, I learned to throw a baseball sneaking up on the highline with my dad. I'm so excited about this whole project... One of the most exciting urban projects in the nation... such a spectacular use.

NYguy Dec 22, 2006 12:49 AM

One of my favorites also. One more place to explore the city...

Chelsea Now

Above, a schematic rendering showing what W. 30th St. might look like with the High Line’s northern section redeveloped as a park. The view is looking west. On either side of the High Line, projected new development is shown. Below, an aerial map showing the High Line, with its northern section, in red, wrapping around the M.T.A. rail yards.

Northern exposure: High Line faces threat

By Lawrence Lerner
Volume Number 1 Issue Number 12 / December 15 - 21, 2006

If you thought preserving the High Line was a fait accompli, think again.

Last Thursday night, more than 150 people packed into Chelsea Market’s Community Room to hear an hour-long overview of the public planning process that will decide the fate of the elevated railway’s northern end, between 11th and 12th Aves. from 30th to 33rd Sts., where it loops around the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Western Rail Yards.

The presentation was part of a push by Friends of the High Line — the nonprofit organization that helped transform the rail viaduct into an elevated park — to keep the structure intact as the city prepares to develop design guidelines and accept requests for proposals for redevelopment, or R.F.P.’s, for the western yards.

“The process is just starting, and that’s why we’re trying to get out in front of it, so the city and the Hudson Yards Development Corporation can hear from supporters of the High Line that they want this portion saved and intact,” said F.H.L. co-founder Robert Hammond to a roomful of applause.

In November 2004, the city acquired the southern portion of the High Line, between Gansevoort and 30th Sts., from CSX Transportation. In June 2005, the two parties secured approval to include the High Line in the federal Rails-to-Trails program, saving it from the wrecking ball and ensuring its conversion into a unique public space for generations to come. But with the proposed Jets stadium plan recently defeated and the future of the Western Rail Yards in doubt at the time, the city and CSX left the High Line’s northern section out of the deal.

Whether the city plans to acquire that portion of the High Line remains unclear. A statement released by John Gallagher, the mayor’s first deputy press secretary, said only this much: “Transfer of ownership from CSX to the city of the portion of the High Line that runs over the M.T.A.’s rail yards requires the participation and consent of the M.T.A., which to date has not been received. The city and the M.T.A. are currently engaged in a joint planning process for the rail yards.
That process, which seeks to balance a variety of important public priorities, will culminate in review by the City Council.”

Gallagher offered no further comment on why the Bloomberg administration is keeping its desire and intent for the High Line north of 30th St. a well-guarded secret.

Meanwhile, this northern section remains vulnerable to alteration or outright demolition, according to Hammond.

“We could see parts of the High Line north of 30th St. taken down, rerouted and put back up, and there are lots of reasons why we think the original structure should remain intact,” he said. “One, we think it’s a slippery slope once you start tearing it down. There’s also no guarantee what you get when it comes back. Do you take off some of the railings and just paste them onto the side of the buildings? To me, that’s not the High Line. That just messes with its integrity.”

In an interview after the presentation, Josh David, F.H.L.’s other co-founder, offered another, equally important reason for the High Line to remain intact.

“The easement needs to be continuous for the portion of the High Line north of 30th St. to be eligible for the federal Rails-to-Trails program,” he said. Achieving that status will enable this northern section to be converted into a public park, as it has been from 30th St. down to Gansevoort St., according to David.

F.H.L. is all too aware that the Hudson Yards redevelopment process is about to pick up steam. During the next six months, Hudson Yards Development Corporation will develop planning and design guidelines for the Western Rail Yards, and will solicit R.F.P.’s for two months thereafter. After the M.TA. evaluates the proposals, a selection committee will choose the winners, who will then subject their plans to the city’s uniform land use review procedure, or ULURP, which includes an environmental impact assessment. The plans then go through a public review process before being kicked back to City Planning for final approval.

According to David, the next three to six months are critical.

“We’re arguing that preservation of the High Line should be in those guidelines not only to ensure its integrity into the future but so developers have it in mind as they submit their R.F.P.’s,” he said. “Let’s not wait until the public review process to ensure the High Line is preserved. Its requirements need time to be considered for it to work successfully in any grand development scheme, and we’ll miss a significant amount of planning time if we tack it on as an afterthought.”

F.H.L. also believes that keeping the northern section of the High Line standing makes good economic sense for New York City. John Alschuler, a real estate and public policy consultant who has worked with F.H.L. in the past, made the organization’s case at Thursday night’s forum.

“In 2002, my firm, HR&A, did an economic feasibility study to convince the city to save the High Line. The city has invested $100 million in the structure, and we projected the city will reap more than $250 million in incremental additional tax revenue over the next 20 years due to increased land values around the High Line,” he said. “That’s a good investment, and it means the city has more money to put into public services. Therefore, it only makes sense for the city to get the High Line’s full value by connecting it together with the northern end.”

Alschuler insisted that the High Line is also helping land owners, such as the M.T.A., by making its land more valuable to the tune of $75 million to $100 million, money it can put into the subway, Metro North and the Long Island Railroad.

“The High Line is a win-win-win. It’s good for the city and, therefore, the community, as well as the open-space park system and land owners,” he said. “It is a rare example when everyone’s interests come together nicely.”

The northern end of the High Line is also special for a number of other reasons, according to Alschuler, David and Hammond.

They stress that the old rail viaduct occupies a critical location, a place where a number of other open public spaces come together in the network stipulated by the Hudson Yards rezoning plan — including Hudson River Park and the park area slated to run midblock between 34th and 41st Sts. The High Line, they add, will also connect major civic facilities, such as the redeveloped Javits Center and the new Moynihan Station, while knitting together the West Chelsea and Hudson Yards districts.

Finally, the Hudson Yards portion of the old railway comprises 31 percent of the entire High Line, a fact few people are aware of, said David.

“And from an urban design perspective, its length and incredible views of the Hudson River make it unique,” David said of the High Line’s sweeping section around the rail yards. “The fact that the High Line is elevated makes its views unparalleled.”

And for David and his colleagues, preserving the High Line as a historical marker is also crucial, especially as it relates to New York City’s past urban-planning fiascoes.

“The High Line is irreplaceable,” he stressed. “Once the Hudson Yards is redeveloped, there will be no trace of its 100-year history except for the High Line. That means the High Line has the potential to function as important historical context for the newly developed area.

“Amid all this, it’s important to remember we have a sad analogy only a few blocks away in the 1965 demolished Penn Station,” David continued. “That is a glaring example of poor urban planning that I hope we don’t repeat here.”

Tex1899 Dec 23, 2006 12:23 AM

What a great project. If I understand it correctly, the rail line actually runs through existing buildings, right? Can you imagine living in a building, getting in the elevator, and going not to the bottom floor, but to the 2nd or 3rd and being able to go outside and jog?

Indianapolis has the Monon. It's an old rail line that was converted into a hike/bike path. It's always packed, property values along the Monon have increased, and developers are clamoring to build near it.

The old rail line in Mineral Wells, TX was converted into a hike/bike trail and has become pretty popular.

There's an abandoned line in Houston that runs from downtown into the Heights...I think this line would be an excellent conversion opportunity.

NYguy Dec 23, 2006 1:33 PM


Originally Posted by Tex1899 (Post 2527745)
What a great project. If I understand it correctly, the rail line actually runs through existing buildings, right? Can you imagine living in a building, getting in the elevator, and going not to the bottom floor, but to the 2nd or 3rd and being able to go outside and jog?

Indianapolis has the Monon. It's an old rail line that was converted into a hike/bike path. It's always packed, property values along the Monon have increased, and developers are clamoring to build near it.

This project is pretty similar. There will be more built up around the high line as well.

View east down 31st ST

More high line (older pics)...

NYguy Dec 25, 2006 12:08 PM

NY Times

On the High Line, Solitude Is Pretty Crowded

Rendering by Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro/Courtesy the City of New York. Like moths to a flame, developers are being drawn to the yet-unbuilt High Line elevated garden.

Polshek Partnership’s project for a Standard Hotel.

A preliminary design for the garden, with one of its public stairways; above far right, Neil Denari’s cantilevered apartment house design.

December 24, 2006

WE New Yorkers have a morbid fascination with pinpointing the death of a neighborhood scene. You wonder, for example, exactly when the seeds were planted for SoHo’s grim destiny as an open-air mall. Was it 1971, when Leo Castelli opened his downtown gallery? The advent of Dean & Deluca’s overpriced cheeses? Victoria’s Secret underwear displays?

But the artists who bemoaned SoHo’s gradual reinvention as a tourist mecca in the 1980s would have been dumbstruck by the pace of gentrification wrought by the High Line, an abandoned stretch of elevated railway tracks that will be transformed into a garden walkway from the meatpacking district to Chelsea.

Even before local activists picked the project’s design team, Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, two years ago, developers had begun circling the site like vultures. Today, the High Line risks being devoured by a string of developments, including a dozen or more luxury towers, a new branch of the Whitney Museum of American Art and a Standard Hotel. Already the area is a mix of the fashionable and the tacky, with tourists tottering from boutiques to nightclubs across its cobblestone streets, even as they recoil from the occasional whiff of raw meat.

Not all of these are run-of-the-mill development projects: they include potential designs by renowned talents including Renzo Piano and the Polshek Partnership. And even more promising, a few younger, relatively unknown talents like Neil Denari and Work Architecture are getting the opportunity to design major projects.

But the frenzied activity surrounding the High Line shows how radically the development climate in Manhattan has accelerated. No longer content to allow gentrification to proceed at its own tentative pace, developers now view even the humblest civic undertaking as a potential gold mine. City planners who once had to coax developers to build in rundown neighborhoods are groping for strategies to keep them at bay. Pretty much everyone who has walked the length of the weed-choked High Line agrees that its magic arises largely from its isolation. Carving its way through the urban fabric two to three stories above ground, it is framed mostly by the backs of buildings and billboards, with occasional views opening out to the Hudson or across Manhattan.

The battle to preserve that ambience is being waged street corner by street corner, foot by foot. Last summer the city announced its final zoning regulations for the area, a document that is reassuring for its meticulousness. The guidelines require setbacks to protect some major view corridors; at other points, buildings are allowed to shoot straight up to maintain the sense of compression that is part of the High Line’s charm. The core of several blocks, meanwhile, will remain zoned for manufacturing in the hope of maintaining some of the area’s character.

In rare cases, the Department of City Planning has negotiated directly with developers and their architects on a particularly difficult site. In a design by Mr. Denari for a residential tower, city officials allowed him to cantilever his building several feet over the High Line to compensate for his site’s tiny footprint. In the rather dazzling result, the proposed tower gracefully bulges out over the elevated garden, a vertical tear appearing at its center as if the building were straining to squeeze into its allotted space. Views from the apartments would open up and down the length of the High Line. From below, the building would swell out over the garden walkway, adding a sense of vertigo.

But as long as they conform to the new zoning codes, the city will have little control over the form and appearance of most of the designs. And so far, few projects have risen to the standard of Mr. Denari’s. Even more crucial, perhaps, is the question of access. As Richard Scofidio, one of the architects of the High Line, put it: “We don’t want hotels putting wicker chairs and tables all over the garden. We want it to feel that it belongs to everybody.”

Striving to maintain that feel, the city has wisely limited the number of entry points. It will create four public stairways between Gansevoort and 20th Streets in the first phase.

Thankfully, the city has also limited the width of connections to the High Line from adjoining buildings to a maximum of five and a half feet. That way, any entry point from a specific building would function more as a bridge than an extension of the High Line.

With guidelines in place, it will now be up to the Parks Department to determine which of the new buildings will get direct access to the garden. Already, many of the residential developers have sought permission to build lobbies that would open onto the High Line. This would undo the spirit of the project, giving residents of a few luxury towers a connection to the site that others would not share. They should use the public stairs like the rest of us.

So far, there is no reason to doubt that the city will try to do the right thing. The partnership between city planners and High Line advocates has been one of the most sincere efforts in recent memory to protect the public interest from an onslaught of commercialization. And the Parks Department is working in partnership with Friends of the High Line, the nonprofit group that conceived the idea.

But no planner can reverse the social and economic changes that are reconfiguring the city’s identity. And the question next year will be what happens on the ground, as the neighborhood fills up with the usual cellphone stores, health clubs and Starbucks. What kind of sanctuary will the High Line be? Are we simply deluding ourselves into believing we can slow the pace of the inevitable?

Lecom Dec 25, 2006 7:58 PM

I think that private lobbies opening onto the High Line should be allowed, provided that every such project includes an additional easily accessible public entry point. Such lobbies would bring vibrancy to the High Line, and allow for more sought-after projects, which would bring more development and developers to the area.

NYguy Dec 26, 2006 2:15 PM


Originally Posted by Lecom (Post 2531174)
I think that private lobbies opening onto the High Line should be allowed, provided that every such project includes an additional easily accessible public entry point. Such lobbies would bring vibrancy to the High Line, and allow for more sought-after projects, which would bring more development and developers to the area.

That's the sort of thing they are trying to prevent:


Like moths to a flame, developers are being drawn to the yet-unbuilt High Line elevated garden.......the frenzied activity surrounding the High Line shows how radically the development climate in Manhattan has accelerated. No longer content to allow gentrification to proceed at its own tentative pace, developers now view even the humblest civic undertaking as a potential gold mine. City planners who once had to coax developers to build in rundown neighborhoods are groping for strategies to keep them at bay.
The developers are going to be there regardless, its "unexplored" territory. Having private lobbies there sort of defeats the purpose and feel of what they are trying to create with the park. You can get private lobbies anywhere else in Manhattan or the rest of the city. I agree with the article:


They should use the public stairs like the rest of us.....Thankfully, the city has also limited the width of connections to the High Line from adjoining buildings to a maximum of five and a half feet. That way, any entry point from a specific building would function more as a bridge than an extension of the High Line.
All good points. That way the High Line remains apart from everything else, its own space. I can hardly wait until it opens.

SLC Projects Dec 27, 2006 5:02 AM

Lools like a cool looking project. I like how it's all outdoors or at least a outdoor feel. :yes:

NYguy Dec 27, 2006 12:57 PM


Originally Posted by SLC Projects (Post 2532996)
Lools like a cool looking project. I like how it's all outdoors or at least a outdoor feel. :yes:

Pretty much all outdoors, with a few indoor developments underneath. In that sense, its similar to what's planned for the FDR in Downtown Manhattan.

NYguy Jan 10, 2007 1:36 PM


Originally Posted by NYguy (Post 2530901)
NY Times

On the High Line, Solitude Is Pretty Crowded

Polshek Partnership’s project for a Standard Hotel.

A preliminary design for the garden, with one of its public stairways; above far right, Neil Denari’s cantilevered apartment house design.

Posted on

High Line Spinoff Update #1: Standard Hotel

This is here is the first evidence of André Balasz's marvelous Meatpacking ambition, his High Line-straddling Standard Hotel. Photos taken from Washington Street and the parking lot on the western side of the construction site; it's certainly one of the—er, odder—early construction scenes we've ever seen. Then again, the building design by Polshek Partnership seems to be an odd beast itself. To be honest, we're still not entirely sure what this thing is going to look like; the version of the design that made the rounds again in December is straight ahead. Be mildly afraid.

trvlr70 Jan 10, 2007 2:28 PM

This is a spectacular neo-urban project. I give kudos to NYC residents and preservationists who worked so hard to get this going. I can't wait to witness the progress.

It's both unique and cool.

ComandanteCero Jan 13, 2007 6:09 AM

High Line redevelopment = :cheers:

Standard Hotel = :no:

architect1 Jan 14, 2007 3:32 AM

Wow some amazing photos and amazing Projectrs. That be cool if they did that with Toronto's Donvally. but its in use and well it don't look like anything is going to change.

Riise Jan 17, 2007 6:46 AM

This is one of the best as well as most interesting projects I've seen in a while. I'm a little disappointed that I haven't, yet, visited the Promenade Plantée. Now that I know about I'll be sure to check it out the next time I'm in Paris.

Zephyr Jan 23, 2007 2:50 PM

Thanks for the photos and updates NYguy! I look forward to visiting this next time I am in NYC.

kenratboy Jan 26, 2007 6:04 AM

Its projects like these that make a city special. Hope everything works out well!

NYguy Feb 2, 2007 8:23 PM

Posted on

High Line Update: People Smiling, Paint Drying

When the latest Friends of the High Line update came through with an announcement that we could "have our portrait taken as part of the High Line Portrait Project," we got pretty geeked. Finally, us commoners could get up on those rails and see what all the fuss is about—and take home a souvenir! But something didn't seem right about those photos. The elderly and dogs risking twisted ankles to get up there? Sure enough, upon closer inspection, you can actually get your portrait taken in front of a High Line backdrop. Ah well.

As far as a real High Line update (sorry, that photo thing really did bum us out), the email also included that as well. While the campaign to save the West Side Rail Yards portion of the High Line goes on, construction continues on the so-called Section 1. Sandblasting, painting and structural repairs are in full gear, and this prep work is expected to be complete in the summer. Then comes some landscape work and the building of more access points. Then comes our secret keg party that you'll all totally be invited to.


NYguy Feb 10, 2007 2:02 PM

Interior Design

New York’s High Line Is on the Up and Up
Events will be held this month supporting the project.

by Staff
Interior Design · February 9, 2007

New York’s Diller, Scofidio + Renfro-designed High Line park project is steadily moving forward on schedule. Currently, the 1.5 mile-long track, an abandoned railway that runs from the Meatpacking District through West Chelsea to the Hudson Yards, is still in its site preparation phase. Approximately half of the park’s Section 1 has been sandblasted and painted with a primer coat. A final coat has already been applied to the section of the trail between 17th and 18th Streets, providing a glimpse as to how the completed project will appear.

Additional prep work includes repairs such as removing concrete from the bases of columns and replacing rusted rivets. Other ongoing work involves installing a new underside drainage system and sloped pieces of metal to deter birds from roosting. Site prep work is expected to be completed this summer; construction of the new park landscape and access points will follow.

The High Line was acquired by New York City in November 2005; groundbreaking on the project began last March. The first section is expected to open to the public in 2008. Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s design for the High Line includes a series of gardens in the form of pits, plains, bridges, mounds, ramps, and flyovers.

One snafu in the plan: The advisory group Friends of the High Line (FHL) has not yet secured the portion of the rail at the West Side Rail Yards from demolition. This section of the High Line represents 31 percent of the total park and is a “critical link” in the open space network connecting Hudson River Park and the neighborhoods of the West Side, according to FHL.

Upcoming High Line Events

A new FHL project will create and publicly exhibit portraits of the park’s supporters. Using a backdrop, photographer Tom Kletecka will photograph supporters; a select number of portraits will then be displayed around the High Line neighborhoods, mounted to the construction fencing. Portraits will also be archived online. Photographs will be taken on February 9 from 12pm-6pm at the FHL office (430 West 14th Street, Suite 304), February 22 from 12pm-6pm at the Public corridor at Chelsea Market (75 Ninth Avenue), and March 31 from 12pm-3pm at the Hudson Guild's Dan Carpenter Room (441 West 26th Street, 2nd floor). Participants should RSVP by email to

On February 25 at 1pm, supporters of FHL can join in a tour of The Armory Show, the International Fair of New Art devoted exclusively to contemporary pieces. The ninth annual exhibition, to be held at Pier 94, will feature 148 international galleries. Participants must pay a $10 entry fee to the show (a $10 savings) and should RSVP by email to

NYguy Feb 13, 2007 1:22 PM

February 12, 2007

With Diane Von Furstenberg Involved, You Already Knew This Thing Was Going To Be Pretty Special...

Our former (Bigmouth's current) girl roommate was nice enough to bring us on a v. special VIP tour of the High Line yesterday. For those of you who never noticed, the High Line is that elevated rail line in Chelsea that you looked at when you used to wait on line at the Roxy that will soon be a fabulous public space in the sky, lined by sleek buildings by way famous architects. We trekked on said rail line from 34th street and 11th all the way to Gansevoort street, and got a pretty amazing view of both the City and the incredibly H-O-T co-founder of Friends of the High Line. (Call us!)

Also, any doubts that this park is going to be the gayest thing since the Christopher Street piers were put to rest yesterday, as it became clear that we have already staked our claim. Behold:

Yes, that is an Anderson Cooper billboard ATTACHED to the High Line.


NYguy Mar 5, 2007 8:05 PM

The Villager
February 28 - March 6, 2007

‘Park in sky’ really taking off, to open next year

By Joshua David

You can see a lot of activity up on the High Line these days, especially as you walk near Section 1, between Gansevoort and W. 20th Sts., projected to open to the public in 2008. The most visible work is the sandblasting and priming of the steel structure, which takes place in sealed containment units.

About 60 percent of the site preparation, which also includes concrete and steel repair and an overhaul of the underside drainage system, has been completed. Contractors will begin building the park landscape, including walkways, plantings, access points and lighting, this summer.

In addition, construction will soon begin on Section 2 (20th to 30th Sts.). As with Section 1, this will start with a process in which soil, plant matter, gravel ballast, concrete and steel equipment will be removed from the rail bed. The steel railroad tracks will be lifted, tagged and stored, allowing for their integration into the High Line landscape.

Many people deserve credit for the tremendous momentum behind the High Line’s transformation, beginning with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his administration, specifically Adrian Benepe, the Parks Department commissioner, and Amanda Burden, the City Planning Commission chairperson. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton and Representative Jerrold Nadler have also provided visionary leadership and brought much-needed public funding. All the members of High Line design, contractor and city teams have devoted thousands of hours of hard work to help build this great new public park.

Friends of the High Line continues its evolution from an advocacy group to a conservancy. Presently, F.H.L. is raising crucial funding for the construction of Section 2. In coming months, we will continue fundraising to bring private support to capital construction costs and maintenance and operations of the park for when it opens. We’re also planning a full schedule of public programs and events. For more information about our programs and to receive regular construction updates, please visit and sign up to receive our e-mail newsletter.

David is co-founder, Friends of the High Line.

Lecom Mar 5, 2007 8:16 PM

Great to see things moving along.

I also noticed that quite a few construction projects right by the High Line are progressing well.

NYguy Mar 28, 2007 1:12 PM


High Line Park Spurs Remaking Of Formerly Grotty Chelsea

By John Koblin

The mission of the High Line, the future park that will rest on an elevated train platform slicing across 22 Manhattan blocks, is to slow down. The park’s designers want the experience of it to be meditative, a break from hustling urban life.

But just beyond its limits—which stretch only as wide as the skinny platform, at 30 to 60 feet—there is a frenzied contrast. Up and down the High Line’s mile-and-a-half stretch, dozens of sites are readying for construction.

At least 27 projects—mostly luxury condos and hotels—are in various stages of development: Some are being constructed, others have just broken ground, and a few are in the design stages. And many more are expected.

All of the projects will have an intimate relationship with the park: Some buildings will have private access points that lead to walkways into the park; three will actually have the High Line tucked inside the buildings; many will loom over the park, with high-end retailers serving as a backdrop; and all will be capitalizing on a rare chance to develop directly next to—or, in some cases, within—Manhattan’s newest public park.

“I think it’s remarkable,” said Andre Balazs, whose two developments both have the High Line running through them. “It’s like having a building in Central Park.”

Many of the planned buildings include a ridiculously well-muscled list of architects: Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, Renzo Piano and Annabelle Selldorf, just to name a few. The formerly hardscrabble part of West Chelsea, already on its way out, will soon be no more.

“Every parking lot and every derelict building in that neighborhood will be redeveloped,” said Ron Solarz, a broker at Eastern Consolidated, which is representing at least three sites in the area. “It will be all hotels, condos, rentals and restaurants with super-high-level users.”

But what will it mean when it’s all added up? The architects, the developers and, ultimately, the new dwellers have the chance to influence something so routine, yet so hard to achieve in New York: reorienting the identity of a neighborhood.

And who exactly are these people clamoring to move into the new West Chelsea?

ON MARCH 22, A NEW LUXURY CONDO named the Chelsea Modern, located on 18th Street off 10th Avenue, held a launch party. Prices for each of the 47 condos starts at $1 million. The party’s high-wattage attendees included Ivanka Trump, Spanish supermodel Eugenia Silva, and socialites Emma Snowdon Jones and Tracy Stern.

Matthew Betmaleck, a 39-year-old who owns his own fashion-photography company, spent $1.25 million on his unit in the building. He said the building’s proximity to the High Line is why he bought in.

“It’s Manhattan, so outdoor space is at a prime,” he said, wearing glasses with a Club Monaco scarf wrapped around his blazer. “If you live on the Upper East Side or the Upper West Side, Central Park is at your front door. Right now, I live on Bank and Washington, so I go to the West Side Highway all the time for rides or to walk my dog, and I think it’ll be the same thing at the High Line. It’ll be a destination, and people will come and check it out and say, ‘Wow! What’s that? I wanna see it.’ But I think ultimately the people who live here will be the people who use it.”

Greg Casto, a 26-year-old working in public relations, hopes to move into one of these shiny new condos when he can afford it. That’s because West Chelsea defines what Chelsea means to him already.

“Chelsea is becoming a very focused, very smart community,” he said. “That’s what you’re seeing here—not only in living arrangements, but in shops and restaurants, too. Everything that is around Chelsea is becoming very sexy and very sophisticated. And that’s the key message everyone is bringing to Chelsea: smart and sexy.”

He said he’s lived in New York for nine months.

The High Line streaks from Gansevoort Street in the meatpacking district to 34th Street. The entire train platform, which is made out of a very 1930’s combo of steel and reinforced concrete, will become a park, except for the portion between 30th and 34th streets that’s shaped like a sideways J—the city is still figuring out what to do with that section.

The park is scheduled to open in the summer of 2008, with a projected cost of $165 million. The city has raised $85 million, the federal government has given $22 million, and private funding has raised more than $17 million. The Friends of the High Line, the nonprofit arm that has pushed this project forward, has launched a campaign to raise an additional $40 million.

“I’m very excited about the project,” Congressman Jerry Nadler told The Observer. He took a tour of the High Line in 2005 with Senator Hillary Clinton and City Councilwoman (now Speaker) Christine Quinn to boost support for its redesign. “It certainly says something about the power of the West Side.”

The park, designed by Field Operations and Diller, Scofidio & Renfro, is unique in that it will be open around the same time as the dozens of luxury developments skirting it.

IT'S THIS LUXURY, WHICH LITERALLY OVERSHADOWS a park birthed through hefty public support, that raises the question: Will the High Line become a stylized playground for the rich only?

The Friends of the High Line loudly say no.

“We care passionately about this being a place for all people in the neighborhood and all New Yorkers,” said Joshua David, who co-founded Friends of the High Line in 1999. “And if there are some expensive buildings in the High Line neighborhood, then that’s true of neighborhoods throughout Manhattan. But this remains an incredibly diverse neighborhood, and we’re committed to its diversity.”

At the least, the people who move into these condos will have a comfy lifestyle. Mr. Balazs’ 14th Street High Line Building, for instance, will actually include the High Line, even though the Parks Department will still manage the part that’s inside. Mr. Balazs described the 15-story property as a “private club” that will be for “members only,” who will buy into the building and rent out rooms as a hotel.

According to one source, the High Line Building may also ask the city for a private entrance from the building that leads to a passage to the park—in essence, a direct passage from the building to the park itself. Connection to the park, said developer Charles Bendit, will be a main selling point for all landlords who can get access to it.

“It’s like living two houses off Central Park, and you have access to the park right around the corner,” he said. “You will have the same benefit here.”

Several more developers are expected to make a request for this sort of private entrance once their buildings come closer to completion, the source said.

The one building that has made the request is the Caledonia, which is owned by Mr. Bendit’s Taconic Investment Partners and mega-developer the Related Companies. The tower’s approximately 185 luxury condos are sold out, Mr. Bendit said. The building has already signed Equinox, which will have a second-floor view that will overlook the High Line.

Mr. Bendit said he expects other developers to follow suit—to bring in high-end retailers to overlook the High Line from their second- or third-story windows. Even if there aren’t direct connections to the stores themselves, if a person strolling in the park has a wandering eye for the Bed Bath & Beyond right next-door, then he can shuffle down the High Line’s stairs and buy that shower curtain he always wanted at a moment’s notice.

Naturally, the marketing machines are already moving with a swift pace. High Line 519, a condo being constructed on 23rd Street, markets its units as a “fusion of contemporary architecture, European opulence and raw Chelsea charm.”

But what exactly is “raw Chelsea charm”? Does it recall the authenticity of Chelsea and the meatpacking district in the 1970’s and 1980’s, when S&M and gay leather bars like the Eagle, the Mineshaft and the Lure pervaded the area? Or is it the gritty urban setting that’s currently in its last throes?

Whatever the appeal, it’s now being smoothed over with that burnished architecture. The New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff recently called Mr. Gehry’s development, between 18th and 19th streets near the High Line, a strong—if safe—project and lavishly praised a stairwell in the building, saying it might be the city’s best.

Indeed, it’s projects like Mr. Gehry’s that make for few, if any, detractors of the re-imagined West Chelsea. Even classic naysayers for most projects, like Florent Morellet, the owner of the meatpacking mainstay diner Florent, approve of it.

“I believe the change is positive,” he said. “You have to live with change. When I took over the restaurant, there were people who moved in the neighborhood in the 1970’s, and people said, ‘That’s it. It’s gentrification; it’s over.’ Then more moved in during the 80’s, and they thought it was the end, and the same in the 90’s. Every month, someone says to me the neighborhood is finished.”

So with a new element about to wind its way through the area, there’s naturally one thing to do: plan a big party. Even though the High Line is more than a year away from opening, tickets are on sale on March 30 for the official H&M-sponsored High Line Festival to help raise additional funds for Friends of the High Line. The party will be in May, though it won’t take place on the High Line, since it’s still illegal to enter it. But that’s beside the point.

For a project and an area that places such a premium on famous luminaries like Mr. Gehry and Mr. Nouvel, this event fits the bill. The famous gay party planner, Josh Wood, and Broadway producer David Binder are organizing it. David Bowie will curate the festival. High-profile artists like Laurie Anderson and Arcade Fire are among those that will perform.

Of course, the H&M-sponsored event, which will also get some sponsorship help from Garnier, Jet Blue and Grolsch, looks a lot like the High Line and all the developments around it—a little edgy, but something that is definitely established.

Mark Wellborn contributed reporting to this story.

Goody Mar 28, 2007 8:59 PM

dude this nuts.. why havent I heard of it?

NYguy Mar 28, 2007 9:02 PM


Originally Posted by Goody (Post 2725497)
dude this nuts.. why havent I heard of it?

Most people in New York probably haven't heard of it. But, I'm guessing once it opens, that will change in a hurry.

John F Mar 29, 2007 10:15 PM

I've talked to my parents and aunt about this. These people grew up and around New York (Queens actually) and didn't even know what the High Line was.

Jularc Mar 29, 2007 10:29 PM


Originally Posted by John F (Post 2728711)
I've talked to my parents and aunt about this. These people grew up and around New York (Queens actually) and didn't even know what the High Line was.

Yeah New York City is so big that people in one area don't really know too much of another area and find themselves surprice when they see something new and different.

John F Mar 29, 2007 10:58 PM

Well, the High Line in general is old. It's redevelopment is new. But I get your point.

NYguy Apr 5, 2007 12:30 PM

Check out this old proposal and other older images of the High Line from:

Busy Bee Apr 6, 2007 2:28 AM

Is the pitched-roof building in the third photo still standing?

NYguy Apr 6, 2007 12:10 PM


Originally Posted by Busy Bee (Post 2746672)
Is the pitched-roof building in the third photo still standing?

I don't think that particular one is, but there are other, similar buildings...

NYguy Apr 24, 2007 7:12 PM

posted on

Astride the High Line, Big Ups for Balazs

Gulf Coast oil rig—or High Line hotel development? The latter, of course. Above, captured by photoblogger Will Femia, is the rising glory that is André Balazs' High Line-straddling Standard Hotel. As we said when we last updated construction on this thing, back in January, no one seems quite to know exactly what this place is going to look like (click through for one plausible rendering). So be it—in André we trust, forever and ever, amen.

NYguy Apr 30, 2007 9:32 PM

Very lengthy 8-page article in New York magazine...

Some quotes:

The High Line: It Brings Good Things to Life
The abandoned railroad that made a park ... that made a neighborhood ... that made a brand.

By Adam Sternbergh
Illustration by Andy Friedman

Someday, around a year from now, one of your friends is going to say to you, “Let’s go to the High Line.”

Now, this person might be talking about the High Line park, the well-publicized ribbon of greenery that’s being constructed on an abandoned elevated rail line in far west Chelsea, running north from Gansevoort all the way to 34th Street.

Or your friend might be referring to the High Line neighborhood: the new skyline of glittering retail spaces and restaurants and condos, designed by brand-name architects like Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel and Robert A.M. Stern, with names like the High Line Building and High Line 519 and HL23.

Or your friend might mean the High Line Terrace and Lounge in the new condo tower at 245 Tenth, which promises prospective residents views over the High Line, along with “polished cervaiole marble floors.”

Or maybe your friend wants to go to the Highline Thai restaurant on Washington Street, or the High Line Ballroom, a recently opened concert venue, which, starting May 9, will be part of the High Line Festival, an event curated by David Bowie and showcasing such snazzy right-now artists as Ricky Gervais and Arcade Fire. Granted, a few of these events will be barely within yodeling distance of the High Line—you know, the railroad—but no matter: Two of the festival’s producers, Josh Wood and David Binder, chose the name less for a proximity to the High Line than for their philosophical alignment with the park. “The High Line is very much about aesthetics and design,” says Binder. “We’re trying to be as well.”

“Everyone in New York City has been so supportive of the High Line,” says Wood. “It’s probably the one public-works project that no one has anything bad to say about.”

Given all this activity, it’s probable that, like most New Yorkers, you’ve already heard of the High Line. It’s also probable that, like most New Yorkers, you’re only vaguely aware of what exactly it’s going to be. Maybe the last time you thought about it was in 2003, when Friends of the High Line—the nonprofit group that’s been fighting doggedly to save it for the past eight years—held an open design competition for creative suggestions as to its ultimate fate. The results were exhibited at Grand Central Terminal, and submissions ranged from a permanent nature preserve to a roller coaster. One of the winning entries was a 22-block-long elevated swimming pool.

So here’s an update.

First, the short version: The High Line is a brand-new park. In the sky.

Now, the longer, slightly more complicated version: The High Line is, according to its converts (and they are legion), the happily-ever-after at the end of an urban fairy tale. It’s a “flying carpet,” “our generation’s Central Park,” something akin to “Alice in Wonderland ... through the keyhole and you’re in a magical place.” It’s also the end-product of a perfect confluence of powerful forces: radical dreaming, dogged optimism, neighborhood anxiety, design mania, real-estate opportunism, money, celebrity, and power. In other words, it’s a 1.45-mile, 6.7-square-acre, 30-foot-high symbol of exactly what it means to be living in New York right now.

But first, let’s start with the park.

If New York were in the practice of erecting statues to living people, you could make a good case that Joshua David and Robert Hammond should be cast in bronze tomorrow. You can almost picture their monument, too—perhaps the two of them smiling, arm in arm, hard hats on their heads—which you could unveil next spring at the projected opening of the High Line park. Or, instead, you could place that statue in the lobby of Craftsteak, the cavernous, warmly lit restaurant at the corner of Tenth Avenue and 15th Street, where I met Hammond and David for dinner on a recent rainy April night.

Walking along 15th toward Craftsteak, you’ll find as good a tour of the new Manhattan, pressed up shoulder to shoulder with the old one, as you’re likely to find. In one block I passed an auto-repair shop (“Foreign and Domestic”), the display windows of Jeffrey department store, a car wash right under the High Line, and a jam-packed opening at Milk Gallery, where well-dressed art-world attendees were lit up sporadically by the pop of flashbulbs. On Tenth, Escalades and limos sat idling with their blinkers on, outside Morimoto, or Del Posto, or Craftsteak, the massive restaurants drawing diners to their tastefully humble façades. As it happens (and this story has a lot of “as it happens” moments), Hammond, who is a part-time painter, has three of his works hanging in Craftsteak, and a huge painting by Stephen Hannock of the High Line, as seen from a nearby rooftop, is displayed in the restaurant’s main dining room. “We took him up on the building to help him get that vantage point,” says Hammond. “And we used an old photo taken from the same place in the thirties as a reference. It’s amazing that, besides the Gehry building”—which is visible in the painting as a skeletal shell full of lights, mid-construction—“how little in the neighborhood has changed.”

NYguy Apr 30, 2007 9:40 PM

More quotes..(from page 2of 8)

The tower proposed for 200 Eleventh Avenue will enable residents to take their cars up an elevator and park right next to where they live, just like in the suburbs.
Rendering: Hayes Davidson

Together, the pair is unfailingly gracious and quick to deflect praise. They refuse to even really acknowledge what is essentially their victory lap. They share a bemused ambivalence toward all the profiteers now benefiting from the High Line’s prestige. Early on, they looked into trademarking the name “High Line,” but found they couldn’t, any more than you could trademark “Central Park.” Besides, they say, eight years ago, an overabundance of enthusiasm for the idea of the High Line was the least of their problems. David recalls an early City Council meeting they attended, along with socialite Amanda Burden, where their pie-eyed plan was so roundly ridiculed that, he says, “You really did feel like you were getting pissed on.” Then Burden rose to speak. “She rallied the most incredible response about how great it is that there are still dreamers in New York,” says David.

“Since when is dreamers a dirty word?” says Hammond.


quotes, page 3

Nearly everyone involved in the Save the High Line effort—from Gifford Miller to Amanda Burden to Edward Norton to Diane Von Furstenberg—will tell you about their hallelujah moment. The idea of a park on a railbed in the sky can be a little hard to get your head around, especially if your only vantage point is looking up from street level at its rusted, pigeon-shit-scarred underbelly. “But the moment Robert got me up there, I fell in love with it,” says Miller. “You’re in the clouds, as it were—on the level of the Jetsons.”

I first truly understood this phenomenon when I ducked through a hobbit-size door in the backside of a Tenth Avenue warehouse—and stepped directly out onto the High Line, between 25th and 26th Streets. Here, the railbed stretches off in both directions, resembling a lush, weedy boulevard unspooling over the city streets. I was accompanied at the time by Douglas Oliver, who owns the Williams Warehouse, along with a silent partner. A trim man in his early sixties, with curly, salt-and-pepper hair, Oliver was wearing a collarless black peacoat and a black-and-white ascot. Currently, his warehouse is used to store sets for soap operas; as we walked among the stashed sofas and upended, ornate lamps, he shouted to his superintendent, “Hey, Felix, where’s my favorite coffin?”

Then we all stooped through the door he punched in his back wall three years ago, and boom, there we were, on the High Line—a moment that felt like stepping through the back of the wardrobe, out into Narnia.

The High Line has always been closed to the public, so from the beginning, Hammond and David understood that—fancy brochures and professionally produced videos aside—they had to find a way to bottle and sell this hallelujah moment. A friend recommended they contact the photographer Joel Sternfeld, who had shot ruins in Rome. They invited him up for a visit. Sternfeld remembers his own High Line epiphany. “Suddenly, it’s green! It’s a railroad! It’s rural! Where am I?” he says. As he stood out on the railbed, mouth agape, Hammond whispered to him, “Joel, we need the money shot.”

As it happens, Edward Norton, the actor, whose grandfather was a visionary developer who helped save Boston’s Faneuil Hall, read Gopnik’s paean, and decided he should lend his name and support to the Friends of the High Line effort. He phoned them up and, later, became a public face for the group, appearing on Charlie Rose and speaking at events. “He’d say, ‘Look, there are a lot of people who want your money,’ ” Hammond recalls. “ ‘There are a lot of causes out there doing more important things—saving lives or educating kids.’ Then he summed it up in a way I always liked: ‘This is about optimism. This is about New York reinventing itself.’ ”

NYguy Apr 30, 2007 9:49 PM

More quotes, (page 4)

In fact, even before the city announced, in June 2005, that it had approved the rezoning plan that would preserve the High Line and allow for new construction projects all along its length, savvy real-estate speculators had grasped the potential of a “High Line” neighborhood.

The developer Alf Naman, who’d been circling the area since the mid-nineties, bought up about a half-dozen properties. “I saw what happened in Tribeca,” he says, “and I didn’t want to miss out here.” He’s now developing three properties, including a hotel that will look out directly on the High Line and a condo tower by architect Jean Nouvel at 100 Eleventh Avenue, with a bistro-style restaurant on the main floor. (Danny Meyer is rumored to be the eventual tenant.)

André Balazs, the hotel impresario, who was also an early donor to Friends of the High Line, purchased two plots of land on either side of the track, near 14th Street, where he’s building a Standard Hotel. “We started construction before it was even clear who owned the High Line,” he says—a gamble that he says now is “looking brilliant.” His hotel will literally straddle the High Line, and in his ideal vision, Balazs will offer his guests direct access through a stairway from the hotel to the park—though the details of who can or can’t build entrances to the High Line, and what exactly those entrances might look like, and whether you can put patio chairs or café tables out on the High Line grounds, are all still being hashed out with the city. But Balazs is confident he’ll get his staircase. “This is going to happen,” he says.

Farther north, the architects Della Valle Bernheimer are building two new projects, one on 459 West 18th and one at 245 Tenth Avenue, and Jared Della Valle is still looking for other opportunities. “But there’s been a frenzy in the neighborhood,” he says, “to the point that properties are trading at a rate that doesn’t make any sense.” Some mid-block parcels are still coming on the market, as leases run out or reluctant sellers are swayed by the arrival of the money truck. “But the majority of the A locations”—meaning ones right on the High Line—“have already traded hands.” He mentions the one crown jewel that’s still available—a huge lot at 18th and Tenth Avenue, right next to Gehry’s building. “We put an offer on that,” he says, “but we dropped out when prices went through the roof.” Prices in the neighborhood have gone up 30 percent in the last year, and are now among the highest in the city, with some lots going for over $500 a developable square foot. I ask Della Valle how those numbers compare with other Manhattan neighborhoods. He pauses. “There’s not much out there. You’re talking Central Park West.” For developers, investing at those prices, he says, is “like Russian roulette, except there are four bullets in the gun instead of one.”


quotes (page 5)

The second irony is that, despite all the good vibes and upbeat statements from politicians at every level of the food chain, the stretch of the High Line that runs from 30th to 34th Street, fully 30 percent of its total length, is still in danger of demolition. Its fate is more or less in the hands of the MTA, which owns the Hudson Rail Yards. The MTA wants to sell its land for maximum profit and, by all indications, is not planning to make preservation of the High Line a condition of the sale.

The last irony is that the rest of the High Line—the one that Sternfeld photographed, the one that sparks that reliable hallelujah moment in the hearts of one goggle-eyed visitor after another—isn’t being saved at all. In fact, it was doomed from the start. Hammond and David knew that, in order to rally initial support, they had to convince people that the High Line was worth preserving in the first place, and they did so with Sternfeld’s bucolic images of an untouched pasture in the sky. But now the High Line, by necessity, is being stripped to its foundations. The Friends of the High Line spent a long time trying to figure out if that original park could be preserved, but it just wasn’t feasible. “That landscape existed because nobody could go up there,” says David. “And to get people to go up there, you have to do something different.” The architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, who are designing the new park along with landscape architects Field Operations, initially submitted a plan using “flyovers”—basically, plankways that would sit over the existing High Line flora—but discovered there was too much industrial contamination on the site. “To let people go up there,” says Ric Scofidio, “we had to strip it.”

So when the new park opens next year, it will offer visitors a very different, essentially artificial experience. The park will ideally evoke the feel of the old, untouched High Line, which is now preserved only in Sternfeld’s loving photographs.
Many of the same plants are being planted, some of the old rail track will be reused, and a concrete pathway will gently nudge visitors toward a similarly meandering experience as they travel from one end to the other.

As for the new buildings around the High Line, that’s out of Scofidio’s hands. “Right now, a lot of the buildings along the High Line have blank walls, because there’s been no reason to open to the High Line,” he says. “If those blank walls suddenly become filled with balconies and windows, that’s going to change the atmosphere. But that’s going to happen. You can’t avoid it.” Hammond and David are more upbeat about the flourishing neighborhood. They react to concerns about all the radical changes with only a slight hint of weary defensiveness—like two researchers who’ve spent ten years trying to crossbreed a unicorn, and now they have to endure complaints about all the hot-dog stands popping up around the unicorn’s stable. “It’s very important for me to understand everything that’s happening here in the context of this much broader movement happening all over the city,” says David. “It’s just happening in a slightly different way here, because of the High Line.”

I asked Sternfeld if, having spent a year documenting the High Line in his own private park, he now felt mournful about its passing. He said, “Yes, no question about it. I feel really sad. It was beautiful. It was perfect. It was authentic. I wish everyone could have the experience that I had. But you can’t have 14 million people on a ruin.”

Since the High Line that you’ll walk on a year from now isn’t going to feel like the High Line you couldn’t walk on a year ago, let me try to lay out for you what your future hallelujah moment might feel like.

At the south end, near the meatpacking district, the Standard Hotel, with its maybe-or-maybe-not staircase, will rise, bowlegged, with its trademark upside-down signage, eighteen stories above the park. There will be a satellite branch of the Whitney museum nearby. From the street, you can ascend the stairs to the High Line park and head north along a pathway of interlocking concrete planks. You can probably even bring a dog—as it stands, pets will be allowed on the High Line, but not bikes. (“The Hudson River Park is a fast park,” says Scofidio. “We envision this as a slow park.”)

In early designs for the park, slim and stylish visitors are illustrated wandering idly through the sculpted grounds, among such oddball imagined details as a cantilevered grandstand on which people are seated watching 2001: A Space Odyssey. (Those elements—the grandstand, a proposed “water feature” that would have featured an urban beach—have since been discarded.) And as you walk, from time to time you’ll stand above an intersection, where you can enjoy a unique, unbroken vista from one side of Manhattan to the other; basically, the view you might get if you could stand in the middle of the road, not get run over, and be 30 feet tall.

NYguy Apr 30, 2007 10:00 PM

More quotes (page 6)

As for the rest of the view, you can expect a veritable Disneyland of starchitecture, with ten new buildings currently rising and roughly fifteen more in development—some with access right to the High Line, some simply hugging its edge; some scaled humbly to the surrounding historical blocks, some potentially as high as 40 stories, and some that are new buildings built on top of existing buildings, like crumpled crystal top hats.

One of the new towers, at 200 Eleventh Avenue, will offer “en suite parking” to tenants (basically, an elevator that will take your car from street level and park it directly outside your apartment), pending community-board approval; Madonna’s rumored to be sniffing around. Another planned tower will tilt over the High Line, stooping slightly at its midsection like a butler ushering you through a door. And all of these buildings, as you pass them, will feature walls of condos and lounges and restaurants with windows full of people looking down from their sparkling new towers at the High Line, and you.


quotes (page 7)

As it happens, the High Line arrives at the exact moment when the legacy of Robert Moses—the imperious former New York City parks commissioner who had his own visions for the city—is being rehabilitated, or at least exhumed. Three separate museums this year mounted exhibits asking visitors to revisit his grandly imagined, and subsequently vilified, plans to remake New York into an expressway-laden megaplex, efficiently absorbing the daily swarms of auto-bound commuters. The most notorious of these schemes is the one that never got built: The Cross-Manhattan Expressway, an elevated highway that would have wiped out much of Soho and torn through the heart of Greenwich Village. Jane Jacobs, the feisty, elfin champion of small-scale urbanism, opposed, and eventually defeated, Moses, and her theories on lively neighborhoods with bustling sidewalks, with dry cleaners and diners and greengrocers, have been entrenched as conventional wisdom ever since.

Whatever you think of Moses’s legacy, there’s one thing Moses and the High Line have in common. We can look back now and see Moses’s work as an artifact of its time; a result, right or wrong, of his idea of the city, of what New York could, and should, become. The High Line, too—by which I mean the park, the neighborhood, the festival, the ballroom, the lounge—will one day look to us like a monument to the time we live in now. A time of great optimism for the city’s future. A time of essentially unfettered growth. A time when a rusted railbed could beget a park, and a park could beget a millionaire’s wonderland. And a time when the city was, for many, never safer, never more prosperous, and never more likely to evoke an unshakable suspicion: that more and more, New York has become like a gorgeous antique that someone bought, refurbished, and restored, then offered back to you at a price you couldn’t possibly afford.

NYguy May 10, 2007 11:58 AM

Save The High Line?
Plans May Doom Northernmost Blocks of Future Park
Photo: Courtesy of Hudson Yards Development Corporation
Looking west over the railyards.

by Matthew Schuerman
May 9, 2007

State and city officials said Tuesday night that they would try to save the three northernmost blocks of the High Line when they choose private developers for the western rail yards, but they made no promises.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owns the six blocks worth of rail yards in the West 30s, will be asking bidders to submit two plans: one in which the sections of elevated track along 30th Street and 12th Avenue would be preserved and the other in which they would be removed, according to city officials. The M.T.A. would determine whether the lost profit from maintaining the train track would be worth it.

“The M.T.A. and the city support retaining the High Line,” William Wheeler, the M.T.A.’s director of special project development and planning, told the more than 150 residents who packed an auditorium rented for the unveiling of the West Side rail yard plans. “But what the M.T.A. has to do is understand the assessment of risk and reward from the developers to understand how it impacts or doesn’t or benefits or doesn’t the returns we are going to get from the properties.”

Mr. Wheeler received a healthy applause, and speakers from Friends of the High Line, a nonprofit organization that has successfully campaigned to turn the southernmost 19 blocks of the unused track into a park, thanked the M.T.A. for its support. But officials said that preserving the High Line would likely add to the developers’ cost because it would require them to have to work around it. If the track was torn down, however, it would be replaced by a narrow raised park just like the High Line in order to open up 30th Street.

Affordable housing was the other major issue that arose during the meeting, which gave the public its first public glimpse of the city’s plans for the former Jets football stadium site. Regina Myer, a senior vice president at the Hudson Yards Development Corporation, the city agency overseeing the project, said that developers would devote “up to 20 percent” of the rental units they built for low-income families, and that two other publicly owned sites on the West Side, which would accommodate hundreds of additional affordable apartments, were “under very very serious consideration for affordable housing.”

About half of the 21 community members who spoke afterward complained that the affordable-housing commitment was not great enough, because it would only come out to be one-fifth of rental housing while condominiums would likely be entirely market-rate.

“We just want to live in our city,” said Marisa Redanty, the president of the Manhattan Plaza Tenants Association.

But city officials said afterward that it would be better to put affordable housing on other sites because it will cost so much for developers to build a platform over the rail yards. They also did not want to detract from the proceeds that the M.T.A. would earn from the sale of the development rights.

The two halves of the rail yards—the eastern half was rezoned two years ago—will accommodate between 2,400 and 5,800 new apartments, according to the proposed zoning, and between 6 million and 9.4 million square feet of office space. Officials said they had not figured out the limit to the height of the office towers, but they spoke freely about towers that are between 40 and 60 stories tall.

The buildings would likely be placed on the northern and southern edges of the rail yards because an Amtrak tunnel goes through the center.

NYguy Jun 8, 2007 10:53 PM

Gehry building offers cutting-edge stage for HL talk

Ric Scofidio talked about the High Line while standing in front of a screen with projections of the park project last Thursday at the IAC Building on W. 18th St.

By Albert Amateau

Ric Scofidio and Liz Diller, the unconventional founders of the Scofidio Diller + Renfro team transforming the High Line — a 1.5-mile elevated railroad — into a park, spoke last week to a rapt audience gathered in a building designed by another unconventional architect.

The venue for the May 24 Friends of the High Line program was the imposing ground-floor space of the Frank Gehry-designed, angular, glass-enclosed Interactive Corp (IAC) building on W. 18th St. and the West Side Highway, which was completed earlier this year a scant block west of the elevated railroad.

“I was concerned about what it would be like to talk from this stage — or platform — in front of this incredible screen. I found it quite enjoyable,” Scofidio said in response to a question at the end of the program.

The luminous wall that serves as a presentation screen stretches more than 50 feet so that the same image can be shown side by side almost directly in front of every one in an audience seated on chairs no more that 10 rows deep.

The High Line forum was one of the first public events in the building that serves as headquarters for Interactive Corp., which comprises about 60 interactive brands, including Ticketmaster, Citysearch, Evite, and

“It’s actually a pretty good building,” said Diller, who said she passes it frequently on the West Side Highway.

The forum audience got a detailed look at the Scofidio Diller partners’ glass intensive design for the recently completed Boston Museum of Art, which cantilevers over the water of Boston Harbor. The partners also showed the development of their design for the reconstruction and enlargement of Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, currently under construction, which also has a prominent cantilever.

But they also presented some projects and installations not usually associated with architects — “to show you the perversity of our thinking,” Diller said.

They showed a glass ashtray that looked like it had a chimney and a weird dress made with strange material. Then there was their Whitney Museum exhibition of men’s shirts folded and ironed in bizarre configurations.

For an exposition in Switzerland in 2002, they devised a structure of pipes above the surface of a lake with 35,000 nozzles that created an amazing mist.

“Their buildings department wanted us to install a sprinkler system to conform to regulations and we had to show them that this was the world’s largest sprinkler system,” Diller said.

The partners are interested in “breaking down the notion that nature and nurture are opposite,” Diller said. “For us, the space is not the main concern, it’s what happens inside if it.” It was an observation especially apt for the High Line project.

“What is amazing about the High Line is being able to see the city in incredibly different ways from 30 feet in the air,” Scofidio said. He recalled the public competition in 2003 that elicited far-out suggestions, including a mile-long swimming pool.

The design team, which also includes Field Operations, the landscape firm headed by James Corner; the Dutch garden designer Piet Ouldorff; and Olafur Eliasson, a designer in Berlin, strongly feels that the High Line Park is a companion to the Hudson River Park to the west, Scofidio said. The High Line is conceived as a slow park, strictly for pedestrians, with Hudson River Park a fast park that accommodates bicycles and skates.

The challenge was to keep the viaduct’s wild look — which evolved as weeds and grasses covered it since the last boxcar of frozen turkeys rolled down the rails in 1980 — and at the same time allow people to enjoy a unique experience.

The solution was a series of concrete planks that can be added or removed at various locations to allow people to walk among planted areas. The boundary between planks and planted areas would never be hard edged and benches would grow out of planks that slope up to seating level. At places where people tend to gather, planks could be added.

Most access locations are to have stairs and ramps, while a few would include elevators. All access would be public; any access from a private development adjacent to the High Line is required to end at a public access point.

Construction of the first segment of High Line Park between Gansevoort and 20th Sts. is on schedule for a 2008 public opening, said Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line. The second phase, between 20th and 30th Sts., is expected to open in 2009.

But one-third of the line — between 29th and 34th Sts., where the line loops around the rail yards between 10th and 12th Aves. — is still threatened, Hammond acknowledged.

“The M.T.A. originally wanted to tear that part down,” Hammond said. “But they decided to allow developers to come in with proposals [to develop on platforms over the yards] that would tear it down and proposals that would keep it as it is,” Hammond said.

“We chose [Scofidio Diller + Renfro] because they like crazy ideas and are really able to solve problems and turn crazy ideas into economic realities,” said Hammond.

NYguy Jun 18, 2007 10:17 PM

Fujifilm Joins Friends of the High Line, Launches High Line Portrait Project
Hundreds of photographs will be displayed in unique outdoor galleries to raise awareness of High Line park, projected to open in 2008.

High Line Portrait Project outdoor gallery as seen at 10th Avenue & 18th Street. The project is supported by Fujifilm.

June 18, 2007

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As the High Line park takes shape above the streets of New York City, construction fencing in the neighborhood will feature improvised outdoor art galleries covered with photographs of High Line supporters from the local community and beyond, Friends of the High Line (FHL) announced today. The group will also launch a Web site featuring the portraits,

Dubbed “The High Line Portrait Project” and made possible with a $50,000 donation from Fujifilm, the photographs capture the spirit of the inventive new park that is being built atop the High Line elevated rail structure, which runs through the Manhattan neighborhoods of the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea and Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen.

Fujifilm’s contribution to FHL will help support community outreach efforts, including the Portrait Project, in the final year before the Park’s opening. The first section of the Park (Gansevoort to 20th Street) is slated to open to the public in the summer of 2008.

“Set atop an out-of-use freight rail trestle, the High Line will be a park like no other. It shows the creativity and innovation that makes New York City great,” said Robert Hammond, Co-Founder of FHL, a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the preservation and reuse of the High Line. “What started as a few people's dream turned into a community project, gained worldwide support and is finally becoming a reality. The High Line shows what can happen when we dream big.”

What's Your Dream? The High Line Portrait Project

The Portrait Project is driven by the enthusiasm and dedication of the Friends of the High Line, with support from Fujifilm and noted event and fashion photographer Tom Kletecka (whose client list includes designer Marc Jacobs, Travel + Leisure magazine and Cartier). Kletecka volunteered his time to photograph High Line supporters in front of a backdrop of the High Line as photographed by Joel Sternfeld, whose images of the High Line were instrumental in bringing public attention to the project in 2000. Each participant at the photo events received a commemorative copy of his or her portrait to take home, courtesy of Fujifilm’s digital printing technology.

The portraits will be displayed in several locations surrounding the High Line during the summer of 2007.
The High Line is proof that the most far-fetched imaginings can come true, and each person who is photographed for the Portrait Project was asked, "What’s your dream?" after their picture was taken. Their answers will appear with their photos on the Portrait Project web site, The images will also be compiled in a commemorative publication.

"The High Line Portrait Project is a unique way to showcase the dynamic group of supporters who have guided the project from dream to reality," said Adrian Benepe, Commissioner, New York City Parks & Recreation. "The High Line itself is a work of art and there is no better way to celebrate its supporters than through this exciting exhibition."

In the summer of 2006, the High Line and Fujifilm collaborated on another photography project. Two hundred children who live in the local community received Fujifilm QuickSnap one-time-use cameras and were asked to take pictures of things they thought were important and interesting. The photos were then exhibited along the concourse gallery of Manhattan's Chelsea Market. Originally the National Biscuit Company and a stop on the High Line, Chelsea Market is now home to small shops that sell gourmet food. You can see these images at:

“The need to find, protect or create greenways, particularly in such a unique, visual way is so important as part of a global effort to maintain a balance with the environment,” said Camilla Jenkins, Vice President, Corporate Communications, FUJIFILM. “The ideals and project fit perfectly with Fujifilm's global commitment to preservation, conservation and community cultural efforts. This effort has succeeded tremendously already and we hope this project will remind other companies and individuals that there continues to be a great need for community support for the High Line now and into the future.”

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