Thursday, August 19, 2010

High Line

I just returned from NYC where I went to meet with some of our artists and to look for new work  for the gallery for Christmas.

I had a great time and found lots of neat things for the Christmas season. More about that later.

I did take a few hours and went down to the Meatpacking District to check out the new High Line Park.

Last summer when we were there hardly anyone had heard of it in mid town. Anyone along the line had heard of it because it is transforming the neighborhood already.

Before I go on, this story reminds me of the transformation of our Downtown, how long it took and how it can change everything around it.

A little history - The High Line was built in the 1930s, as part of a project called the West Side Improvement. It lifted freight traffic 30 feet in the air, removing dangerous trains from the streets of Manhattan's largest industrial district.

No trains have run on the High Line since 1980. Friends of the High Line, a community-based non-profit group, formed in 1999 when the historic structure was under threat of demolition. Friends of the High Line works in partnership with the City of New York to preserve and maintain the structure as an elevated public park.

Just this week they delivered plants to start the second section that goes from 20th to 30th which they hope to open in the spring of 2011. The 3rd and last section makes a u shaped jog and ends next to the Javits.

In 1847 railroad tracks were laid at street level.
1851 – 1929 So many accidents occur between freight trains cars that 10th Avenue becomes known as Death Avenue.
1929 After years of public debate the City, State and railroad agree on the West Side Improvement Project, which includes the High Line.
1934 The High Line opens to trains. It is designed to go through the center of blocks and goes right through buildings.
1950s Growth of interstate trucking leads to a drop in rail traffic.
1960s The southernmost section of the High Line is demolished.
1980 The last train runs on the High Line.
Mid-1980s A group of property owners lobbies for demolition of the entire structure. Members of this group own land under the High Line that was purchased at prices reflecting the High Line's easement. Peter Obletz, a Chelsea resident, activist, and railroad enthusiast, challenges demolition efforts in court and tries to re-establish rail service on the Line.
1999 Friends of the High Line is founded by Joshua David and Robert Hammond, residents of the High Line neighborhood, to advocate for the High Line's preservation and reuse as public open space.
March 2002 Friends of the High Line gains first City support.
October 2002 A study shows that new tax revenues created by the public space will be greater than the costs of construction.
July 2003 An open ideas competition, "Designing the High Line," solicits proposals for the High Line's reuse. 720 teams from 36 countries enter.

September 2004 A design team is chosen - James Corner Field Operations,  a landscape architecture firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, an architecture firm, and experts in horticulture, engineering, security, maintenance, public art, and other disciplines.
November 2005 The City takes ownership of the High Line from CSX.
April 2006 Groundbreaking is celebrated on the High Line, construction begins.

June 2009 Section 1 (Gansevoort Street to 20th Street) opens to the public.

It was a very pleasant 10 block stroll and the views were great.

Already you can see the streets along this park being redeveloped. Very exciting!

Here is a link to their website.

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