This past weekend we got a sneak peek, hard-hat tour of the work going into refurbishing the elevated railroad tracks that run down the west side of Manhattan called the High Line. Originally constructed between 1929-1934, the High Line allowed trains to travel from 35th Street to Spring Street without endangering pedestrians as they had previously when trains operated at street level. The High Line was an active railway until traffic declined in the early 1960s, and the last train ran on it in 1980. Threatened with a demolition decree by the outgoing Guiliani administration, the Friends of the High Line was formed in 1999 by Joshua David and Robert Hammond to preserve this historical landmark and turn it into unique park for everyone to enjoy. With the help of fellow New Yorkers, the Bloomberg administration and other city officials they were able to turn the dream of saving the High Line into a reality. The first four images above are part of a series that were taken over a year in 2000 and 2001 by photographer Joel Sternfeld to support this endeavor.
The efforts were of course successful and the first section of the High Line (from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street) is slated to open in June! The design concept of this truly one-of-a-kind park is a collaboration of the firms Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, both of NYC as well as Planting Design by Piet Oudolf of Hummelo, The Netherlands. And from what we've seen it promises to be a truly remarkable green space of the future while still preserving the city's past. Also, the lighting designed by L'Observatoire International of NYC which features unique LED lights that will illuminate the walkways, are built in facing downwards at waist level and below so as not to obscure the famous nighttime cityscapes. We've been excited about this project for years and always knew it would be an incredible public space for the city. But it wasn't until we were actually on top of the High Line that we realized just how amazing this landmark truly is. You've never really seen Manhattan from this perspective, and the context of the city continually changes with each block you encounter from above. Going from the new Standard Hotel that straddles the High Line, to the Chelsea Market and beyond (all with a constant Hudson River connection) the pathways showcase industrial and architecturally mind blowing vistas that will make you fall even more love with this great city. We absolutely can't wait for the opening in June and look forward to getting High all summer! Just one word of caution .... don't mess with Tiny's cart. (lower eight photos courtesy of Design Therapy).