Co-founders

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Author: 
Erika Harvey
Joshua David and Robert Hammond at the Rail YardsFriends of the High Line Co-founders Joshua David (left) and Robert Hammond (right) on the Rail Yards section of the High Line in 2001. Photo by Joel Sternfeld, courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York

On this day 15 years ago, an article on the High Line ran in the New York Times. In it, a new idea was proposed for the elevated rail, which was slated for demolition at the time. CSX Transportation Inc., which had just acquired the derelict railway, hoped that it might be converted into public space via the federal “Rail to Trails” program.

In what would be a turning point for the historic structure, two men who didn’t know one another at the time – Joshua David and Robert Hammond – read the article and felt moved to change the High Line’s fate. In a sense, today marks the true 15th birthday of Friends of the High Line.

Author: 
Jennette Mullaney
Categories: 
Photo by Jonathan FlaumHigh Line B&W 15, November 2001, by Jonathan Flaum

This year the High Line celebrates three important milestones: the 15th anniversary of the founding of Friends of the High Line, the fifth anniversary of the opening of the first section of the park, and the opening of the third and northernmost section of the historic railway. The High Line’s transformation from a derelict structure to one of New York City’s beloved public spaces is due to the tireless and dedicated work of thousands of supporters, donors, volunteers, staff members, and elected officials. The following is a snapshot of some of the more memorable highlights on the incredible journey Friends of the High Line began nearly 15 years ago.

Author: 
Joshua David
Photo by Patrick McMullanElected officials, supporters, and students from P.S. 11 joined in a ribbon-cutting to mark the opening of Section 1 of the High Line in 2009. Photo by Patrick McMullan
 

June 9, 2009 – five years ago – was a magical day for anyone involved with the High Line.

From the time that Robert Hammond and I founded Friends of the High Line, our goal had been to open the High Line to the public, so that our neighbors and fellow New Yorkers could enjoy the transformative experience of walking a mile-and-a-half, 30 feet in the air, through the centers of 22 city blocks, in a landscape that looked like it had sprung to life from a dream.

Author: 
Anonymous
EnlargePhoto by Barry Munger

Dear Friends,

This is a bittersweet moment for me. I'm excited to be moving on, and also sad to say goodbye.

My nearly 15 years of working on the High Line has been an amazing experience in which I learned to trust my instincts. And it's these very instincts that are telling me that now is the right time to move on, both for me and for the High Line.

Preparing to leave has been much harder than I expected it would be. But as I've been saying goodbye over the past few weeks, I've realized that it's not really the High Line that I will miss. For me, it's always been about the people.

The staff who work at the park, the donors who generously support it, the volunteers who dedicate their time. The board members who lead it, the elected officials who advocate for it, the City employees who partner with us to help us keep it thriving. The designers who created it, the neighbors who have made it their own. The visitors who travel to New York City just to visit it, and all of the people who are inspired by it. People like you who believe in the High Line.

Author: 
Erika Harvey
EnlargePhoto by Barry Munger

Co-Founder Robert Hammond will be stepping down at the end of 2013 after nearly fifteen years of leadership at Friends of the High Line. He leaves behind a legacy that extends far beyond the mile-and-a-half of the High Line. Robert’s creative vision, entrepreneurial spirit, and irreverent approach will live on in the work we do each day, to maintain and operate the High Line.

We asked Robert to share a few favorite memories from his years at the High Line. Follow us after the jump for photos and reflections in Robert's own words.

To hear more of Robert's memories, join us on Thursday, December 5, for a special farewell talk.

Author: 
Jennette Mullaney
High Line Co-Founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond accept the Vincent Scully PrizeHigh Line Co-Founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond accept the Vincent Scully Prize at Washington D.C.'s National Building Museum. Photo by Emily Clack Photography

On September 30, Friends of the High Line Co-Founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond were awarded the prestigious Vincent Scully Prize by the National Building Museum for their work in creating our park in the sky. Joshua and Robert were the fifteenth recipients of the prize, which recognizes exemplary scholarship, criticism, or practice in architecture, historic preservation, or urban design.

As part of the award ceremony, Joshua and Robert gave an original talk, "Harnessing Friction," in which they recall their efforts to create a new kind of public space in the High Line. During the speech, they explore the many qualities that make the High Line unique. "Generally, in a park you seek to escape the city," says Joshua. "The High Line was designed to celebrate its urban condition and the built environment that surrounds it," he adds. Below, view a video of speech, which also includes an opening tribute by last year's recipient – the Pulitzer Prize–winning architecture critic Paul Goldberger – and a question-and-answer session with Joshua and Robert.

There are many choice quotes from the ceremony, but perhaps the most inspiring comes from someone who was present only in spirit. Joshua and Robert conclude "Harnessing Friction" with a quote by the great urbanist Jane Jacobs, herself a winner of Vincent Scully Prize: "Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody only because, and only when, they are created by everybody."

Author: 
Jennette Mullaney
Categories: 
Enlarge

We have exciting news to share with you. After completing an extensive search, it is our great pleasure to introduce Jenny Gersten, who will be joining Friends of the High Line as its Executive Director in January. Jenny will replace Robert Hammond, who earlier this year announced his plans to step down from the Executive Director position at the end of 2013. Joshua David will remain with Friends of the High Line as its President and will be working closely with Jenny in her role as Executive Director.

We are incredibly fortunate to have found an accomplished leader in Jenny, who has a proven track record of success in program development, non-profit management, and fundraising for arts and culture organizations. As the Artistic Director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival, where she has worked since 1996, Jenny helped create and oversee the organization’s long-range strategic plan and $7 million endowment fund. She also managed a vast professional development and training program for more than 200 apprentices, interns, and professional staff. Before the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Jenny served as the Associate Producer of The Public Theater in New York City, where she produced six Shakespeare in the Park productions.

Author: 
Kate Lindquist
Categories: 
EnlargePhoto by Barry Munger

We are about to begin an exciting new chapter in the life of the High Line.

Friends of the High Line Co-Founder Robert Hammond today announced his intent to step down at the end of the year. Along with Co-Founder Joshua David, Robert has worked tirelessly for 14 years to build the High Line and make it into a beloved public space.

Follow us after the jump to read Robert’s letter to supporters.





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