Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Friends of the High Line Co-Founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond today hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction on the third and final section of the High Line.
Located between West 30th and West 34th Streets to the south and north, and 10th and 12th Avenues to the east and west, the final section of the elevated railway, called the High Line at the Rail Yards, extends one half mile beyond the current northern end of the High Line park, which has welcomed more than ten million visitors since it opened in 2009. The High Line at the Rail Yards surrounds Related Companies/Oxford Properties Group’s Hudson Yards project that is anticipated to start construction later this fall. Construction on the estimated $90 million extension of the park will proceed in phases, and be financed by a combination of public and private funds.
The first phase is projected to open in 2014, extending the High Line park to West 34th Street and connecting the Meatpacking District and West Chelsea with the future No. 7 subway station, the Javits Center, and the future Hudson Yards neighborhood.
“Today we celebrate a major step toward completing our vision of turning the entire High Line into a one-of-a-kind public park,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The park has become a local treasure and an international icon, as well as an important generator of economic growth for our city. In the decades to come, long after the final section is open to the public, the High Line will serve as a profound reminder of the extraordinary things we can achieve when the public and private sectors work together for the common good.”
“Ten years ago, this project was simply a dream of a handful of local residents. Today, the park is a successful public space that has benefited the local community and the entire city,” said Speaker Quinn. “This brilliant vision would not have become a reality without the commitment of the community, Friends of the High Line, and other partners. I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg and my fellow elected officials, as well as the many individuals and organizations who have come together to build the High Line.”
The Mayor was also joined by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer; New York State Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried; First Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris; Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel; City Planning Chair Amanda M. Burden; Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky; Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White; Manhattan Community Board 4 Chair Corey Johnson; Manhattan Community Board 2 Chair David Gruber; Stephen A. Crosby, president of CSX Real Property; Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg; Bruce A. Beal, Jr., President of Related Companies; long-time High Line supporters Donald Pels and Wendy Keys; Anisa Kamadoli Costa, president of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation; Friends of the High Line Board Chair John Alschuler; High Line Design Team Members James Corner, Liz Diller, Ric Scofidio, and Piet Oudolf, and students from Clinton Middle School in Chelsea.
To ceremonially mark the start of construction, the Mayor and Speaker joined the Friends of the High Line Co-Founders and students from Clinton Middle School in Chelsea to toss native grass and wildflower seeds onto the High Line’s existing landscape, which grew up between the rail tracks when the freight trains stopped running in the 1980s. This self-seeded landscape will be partially preserved in the design of the High Line at the Rail Yards, allowing park visitors to experience the original landscape that inspired efforts to save the High Line from demolition and transform it into much-needed public open space on Manhattan’s West Side.
“The High Line has had a profound impact on the way we look at public space. Since the first section opened, the park has come to mean many things to many people: a place for locals to spend time outdoors, a spot for coworkers to spend time together on a lunch break, a gathering space for families, an educational resource for schools, a place to see the city in a new way, and an important generator of economic activity for the entire city,” said U.S. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand. “I am thrilled that with the continued partnership between the public and private sectors we are moving forward with opening the final section of the High Line.”
“I am thrilled that we are now ready to break ground on the final section at the rail yards. Before it opened as a public park, the High Line carried freight trains containing so much food, goods, and raw materials into our city that it was called the ‘Life Line of New York.’ Today the High Line is still an important resource for New Yorkers. The park generates important economic activity and provides a much-loved place to relax, grab a bite to eat, spend time with friends and family, and enjoy the views of our city,” said U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler. “The success of the High Line is a tribute to the committed advocacy and vision of many people, and I am so pleased that we are closer than ever toward completing the transformation of the High Line into public open space.”
“We mark the beginning of construction of the final phase of the High Line with the warm embrace of the native goldenrod to celebrate the growth of this urban oasis. When it is complete, more people will be able to enjoy this peaceful escape thanks to the Mayor, the City Council, the many donors, and the people who have worked to create the High Line for New York,” said New York State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried.
“When planning for the High Line began, some thought a ‘park in the sky’ was ‘pie in the sky.’ But look at what we’ve achieved in three short years,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. “The High Line has transformed a relic of our City’s industrial past into a shining example of our City’s sustainable and livable future, attracting more than four million visitors each year. Now, with the groundbreaking of the third section, the High Line is rounding the stretch. With each new section, we’ve raised the bar of what’s possible when you combine muscle and imagination.”
The High Line at the Rail Yards will extend the celebrated High Line park and add new design features that respond to the unique context created by the future Hudson Yards neighborhood. In response to public feedback gathered during three community input meetings hosted by Friends of the High Line, the design will include familiar elements like the iconic “peel-up” benches, intimate overlooks, and meandering pathways, while introducing new design features, such as a designated play area for children, new bench typologies, and an interim walkway wending through the existing landscape of self-seeded wildflowers, native grasses, and shrubs, which will close at dusk.
The High Line at the Rail Yards is being designed by James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Piet Oudolf – the same designers behind the first two sections of the High Line park – along with a team of structural engineers, lighting designers, electrical and mechanical experts, and others construction specialists. Design renderings for the first phase of the High Line at the Rail Yards can be viewed at www.thehighline.org.
“Today, we stand at the third and last chapter of the High Line's trilogy. 23 feet in the air, the High Line provides one of the most exhilarating and uplifting experiences of the City, while being strongly grounded in its community,” said City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden. “This third section, with its sweeping views of the Hudson River to the west and the New York City skyline to the east, will become the viewpoint and entrance to a new city, the developing Hudson Yards. The High Line will become part of a continuous network of public open spaces, allowing New Yorkers to walk from the Meatpacking District to the Hudson Yards park and boulevard all the way up to Times Square. The High Line is about innovation, and creative ways to repurpose our old infrastructure. The High Line is almost complete, but its story will continue to be an inspiration for city makers around the world.”
“The High Line is an innovative open space that is a shining example of the strength of public-private partnerships,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Veronica White. “Thanks to this partnership among city government, elected officials, and an extraordinary, grass-roots citizen organization, the Friends of the High Line, this park project is the most exciting in generations and a model of urban sustainability.”
The first phase of construction will comprise the majority of the High Line at the Rail Yards, including the full capital build-out of the area just beyond the northern terminus of the current High Line park, and the interim walkway on the western stretch of the elevated railway. The second phase of construction will include the 10th Avenue Spur and the area where the High Line at the Rail Yards travels through Coach’s new global corporate headquarters building at the northwest corner of 10th Avenue and West 30th Street, the initial building of the 26-acre Hudson Yards Project being developed by the Related Companies/Oxford Properties Group.
The third phase will involve the full capital build-out of the western stretch of the High Line at the Rail Yards. Construction on the first phase will officially begin with site preparation in late October, which includes removal of rail tracks and ballast, waterproofing the elevated rail structure, and stripping and painting of all steel. This will be followed by construction of the park landscape, which includes access systems (stairs and elevators), pathways, plantings, seating, lighting, safety enhancements, and other design features.
“Since the first section opened in 2009, the High Line has transformed our City's landscape, creating an innovative urban park, attracting millions of visitors and generating billions of dollars in private investment in the surrounding area,” said New York City Economic Development President Seth W. Pinsky. “With construction now beginning on the final section of the park, a project that has already been an extraordinary success story will continue to generate economic activity, benefiting Manhattan’s West Side and the entire City.”
“Manhattan Community Board 4 has historically supported the dream of opening the entire High Line to the public, and we are thrilled that the time has come to break ground on the High Line at the Rail Yards. In the three shorts years since the first section opened, the High Line has become a treasured community amenity, and added much-needed public open space to our neighborhood,” said Corey Johnson, Chair, Manhattan Community Board 4. “We are pleased that the final section will be fully preserved and incorporated with the Hudson Yards development. In the decades to come, after the Hudson Yards is built, the High Line will serve as an historic reminder of the industrial history along Manhattan’s West Side. On behalf of Manhattan Community Board 4, I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg and his administration, Speaker Quinn, Borough President Stringer, and the Related Companies for their commitment to the High Line.”
“On behalf of Manhattan Community Board 2, I am thrilled that we are finally breaking ground on the final section of the High Line. Our community has supported this innovative project from the very beginning, when the thought of turning an old elevated railroad into public park was just an idea. Now the park has become an important community amenity and a great open space for New Yorkers and visitors alike to see our city from an elevated vantage point,” said David Gruber, Chair, Manhattan Community Board 2. “Today’s groundbreaking is a big step toward the ultimate goal: opening the entire High Line to the public. We are so pleased that the High Line will be fully integrated with Hudson Yards to the north, and anchored by the new downtown headquarters for the Whitney Museum of American Art to the south. We would like to thank our elected officials and Friends of the High Line their partnership in reaching this historic moment for Manhattan’s West Side.”
The total cost of the capital construction of the High Line at the Rail Yards is estimated to be $90 million, with the first two phases projected to cost $60 million. The Bloomberg administration and New York City Council have dedicated a total of $10 million in capital funding, and Friends of the High Line has committed to raise $20 million in funding from private philanthropic contributions as part of its Campaign for the High Line. As part of the development of Hudson Yards, Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group will contribute $27.8 million in funding toward the capital construction of the High Line at the Rail Yards, as well as additional funding for the park’s ongoing maintenance.
“As New Yorkers, we share a commitment to making life in our city a more inspiring, more fulfilling experience,” said Diane von Furstenberg. “That desire to create something beautiful can stretch across all boundaries, and bring everybody together – community members, elected officials, artists, philanthropists. I’m thrilled that we are able to celebrate the beginning of construction at the rail yards. We have been working toward this special moment for so long – it is truly the realization of an incredible dream.”
“Ten years ago when Diane and I began supporting Friends of the High Line, all odds were against the project. People wanted to tear down the High Line, but some saw opportunity where others saw neglect. Now the world looks to the High Line as a symbol of the ways cities can build a better future,” said Barry Diller, Chairman and Senior Executive of IAC, the Chairman and Senior Executive of Expedia, Inc., and the Chairman and Senior Executive of TripAdvisor, Inc. “We are able to break ground at the rail yards thanks to the help of many people, but I want specifically thank our elected officials and the private donors who have and continue to come together to support the park’s construction and its annual operations. This unique public-private partnership is what keeps the High Line thriving.”
“Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group are proud to be a major supporter of the final segment of the High Line which will primarily surround the new 12 million square-foot Hudson Yards Project which will commence construction this Fall. We applaud the vision and tenacity of Mayor Bloomberg, his administration and the Friends of the High Line. The integration of the High Line with the over 10 acres of open space at the Hudson Yards and the new Hudson River Boulevard is a tour de force for the City’s park system and is sure to be one of the most magical places to visit in the City and a lasting legacy for all New Yorkers to enjoy,” said Bruce A. Beal Jr., President of Related Companies.
“On behalf of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, it has been a great pleasure to be a part of this transformative project. With its unique history and extraordinary design that is inspired by nature, the High Line reflects The Tiffany & Co. Foundation’s dedication to the creation of beautiful urban spaces to be cherished for generations,” said Anisa Kamadoli Costa, President, The Tiffany & Co. Foundation.
“We are proud to have supported construction of the first section of the High Line, and then the ongoing maintenance and operations to keep the park pristine. Now we are breaking ground on the final section of the High Line at the Rail Yards, and we are so thrilled to be part of this effort once again. The High Line will continue to be enjoyed by not only New Yorkers, but also visitors from across the globe and future generations to come."
The Bloomberg administration has championed the High Line since the Mayor took office in 2002. Mayor Bloomberg endorsed the project when his administration filed with the Surface Transportation Board requesting authorization to create a railbanked trail on the High Line in December, 2002 The STB gave that authorization, in the form of a Certificate of Interim Trail Use, in June 2005.
That same month, the City rezoned the West Chelsea neighborhood surrounding the High Line to support its reuse as a public space, to provide opportunities for new residential and commercial development, and to enhance the neighborhood’s thriving art gallery district. In November, 2005, CSX Transportation, Inc., the owner of the High Line, and the City of New York entered into a Trail Use Agreement for the High Line, and CSX donated the High Line south of West 30th Street to the City.
The City of New York began construction on the first two sections of the public park on the High Line in April, 2006. The first section of the High Line, between Gansevoort and West 20th Streets, opened in June, 2009, and the second section of the High Line, between West 20th and West 30th Streets, opened to visitors in June, 2011. In July, 2012, the City of New York acquired title to the High Line at the Rail Yards from CSX Transportation, Inc., which donated the elevated rail structure.
“CSX is pleased to have been part of the committed team of corporate, government, and private individuals that have come together to make the High Line the success that it is today. The leadership and vision of Mayor Bloomberg, Robert Hammond, Joshua David, and all the Friends, and the efforts of many behind the scenes professionals who have worked tirelessly to see this through, has been remarkable. This is a proud day for New York and a proud day for us all,” said Stephen A. Crosby, president of CSX Real Property.
Founded in 1999 by Joshua David and Robert Hammond, the non-profit organization Friends of the High Line has partnered with the Bloomberg administration since 2002 to preserve the High Line and transform it into a New York City public park maintained and operated with funding from philanthropic sources. When the first section of the High Line opened to visitors in 2009, it was the first public park in New York City to be maintained, operated, and funded by a conservancy group that had originally advocated for a park’s creation.
Under a license agreement with the City of New York, Friends of the High Line raises funding from private sources to support more than 90 percent of the public park’s annual operating budget for staffing, custodial services, day-to-day maintenance work, horticulture, public programming, education initiatives, public art, and community outreach and engagement, as well as the Campaign for the High Line, a fundraising effort that supports the completion of the High Line Headquarters building and an endowment for the future maintenance and operations of the park.
When the High Line at the Rail Yards opens to the public, it is expected that Friends of the High Line will maintain and operate the public park under a similar license agreement with the City of New York, and that the park’s operations will be supported by funding raised from philanthropic and private sources.
“On behalf of all of us at Friends of the High Line, I would like to thank our elected officials, City partners, community boards, supporters, neighbors, and volunteers who have helped us reach this important milestone,” said Robert Hammond, Co-Founder, Friends of the High Line. “More than 13 years ago, right after Joshua David and I founded Friends of the High Line, we visited the elevated railway for the very first time. We immediately fell in love with the landscape of self-seeded flowers and grasses that had grown up between the tracks. Today, as we break ground on the High Line at the Rail Yards, the interim walkway will give millions of visitors the chance to experience the very same wildscape for years to come.”
The High Line at the Rail Yards will remain closed to the public for the duration of construction. However, Friends of the High Line will open the gates for visitors to explore the site during Rail Yards Weekends, a series of free and low-cost self-guided tours presented by Japanese clothing retailer UNIQLO between 12:00 and 4:00 PM during the first two weekends in October as part of the 10th Annual openhousenewyork Weekend. The self-guided walking tours during Rail Yards Weekends are open to visitors 18 years of age or older. To celebrate the partnership and the one year anniversary of the 5th Ave Global Flagship Store opening, UNIQLO will provide walking tour participants with gift bags including Heattech, the innovative heat generating innerwear, at the end of their visit.
Reservations are required and can be made beginning Thursday, September 27. Self-guided tours during the first weekend cost $5, and can be reserved through www.ohny.org beginning the morning of Thursday, September 27.
Self-guided tours during the second weekend are free, and reservations can be made through www.thehighline.org beginning at 12:00 PM on Thursday, September 27.
Marc La Vorgna / Julie Wood
Jamie McShane / Zoe Tobin (Speaker)
Kate Lindquist (Friends of the High Line)