A final look at the High Line at the Rail Yards before construction begins. Clockwise from upper right, photos by Beverly Israely, Liz Ligon, Liz Ligon
The High Line’s final section is currently closed to visitors, but earlier this month more than 1,600 people explored the final stretch of elevated railway as part of Rail Yards Weekends, a series of self-guided walking tours in celebration of the one-year anniversary of UNIQLO’s Fifth Avenue Global Flagship Store opening, the Japanese clothing retailer’s support of the High Line’s ongoing maintenance and park operations, and the 10th Annual openhousenewyork Weekend.
Follow us after the jump to view visitor photos, watch video, and check out photo essays and press coverage.
The High Line at the Rail Yards extends one-half mile north of the High Line park, and wraps around a storage yard for the Long Island Rail Road, pictured here. Photo by Steven Severinghaus
During the first two weekends of October, more than 1,600 people who registered in advance came up to the High Line’s final section to enjoy the views of the city skyline and Hudson River. Walking through the wild landscape of crab apple trees, prairie flowers, and native grasses growing between the rail tracks, visitors got an insider’s look at the self-seeded landscape that originally galvanized our neighbors and friends to join together to save the High Line from demolition.
Now, more than 13 years after that first community board meeting that inspired Joshua David and Robert Hammond to create Friends of the High Line, we are poised to reach our ultimate goal: opening the entire elevated railway to the public. Following important acquisition and fundraising milestones earlier this year, construction is set to officially begin this month to transform the final stretch of elevated railway into an extension of the High Line park.
Most of the rail tracks, ballast, and plants will be removed during site remediation. However, the design renderings include plans for an Interim Walkway – a simple path that will wend through the existing, self-seeded landscape along the stretch of elevated railway just west of 11th Avenue between West 30th and West 34th Streets. When it opens in 2014, the Interim Walkway will give you the opportunity to experience this iconic piece of the park’s history and see first-hand the untouched wild plantings that have inspired us from the very beginning.
For a special glimpse of the site before construction, scroll down to check out a sampling of visitors’ photography and watch a series of beautiful vignettes shot by Arbuckle Industries. You can also check out photo essays and coverage by Atlantic Cities, New York Daily News, New York Observer, and Treehugger.
And if you missed out on the great UNIQLO product giveaway at the Rail Yards Weekends, the highly anticipated online shopping site www.UNIQLO.com will launch next week, offering UNIQLO’s full line of signature products to customers and fans just in time for the 2012 holiday season.
The High Line at the Rail Yards wraps around what will one day be an entirely new neighborhood, called Hudson Yards. Photo by Melissa Mansur
A view looking southwest over wildflowers. In the distance you see French artist JR’s mural and bits of the High Line’s original Art Deco railing. Photo by Timothy Schenck
Rail Yards Weekends would not have been possible without our generous sponsor UNIQLO. Picture here are UNIQLO CEO Shin Odake (left) and Friends of the High Line Co-Founder Robert Hammond (right) before walking the site on Saturday, October 13. Photo by Liz Ligon
From left to right, High Line Volunteers Jamila Dphrepaulezz, Tom Morris, and Sharon Spiegel greeted guests as they arrived at Rail Yards Weekends. Photos by Liz Ligon
High Line staff members Emily Pinkowitz (left) and Sarah Williams (right) answered questions at the check-in desk. Photo by Daniella Zalcman
Upon entering the High Line at the Rail Yards at West 34th Street, you find the rail tracks wending through a dense grove of apple trees. Pictured here are High Line Volunteers greeting Rail Yards Weekends guests. Photo by Liz Ligon
The High Line at the Rail Yards runs parallel to the Hudson River, allowing for interesting interactions with the waterway. Pictured in the background of this photograph is a large cruise ship floasting past the High Line on its way to the Manhattan Cruise Ship Terminal. Photo by Joan Garvin
High Line Volunteers Irene Buchman (far left) and Olga Piantieri (far right) were stationed close to West 33rd Street to talk to visitors about the history of the original elevated railway. Photo by Liz Ligon
Many visitors brought cameras to document their visit, the flora, and the wild, self-seeded landscape. Photo by Joan Garvin
The High Line at the Rail Yards runs parallel to the Hudson River for several blocks along 12th Avenue. Photo by Timothy Schenck
The section of the High Line at the Rail Yards between West 33rd and West 34th Streets was built much later than the original rail structure. In this photograph, you see this stretch, which is covered with gravel ballast and young plants, standing in stark contrast with the rest of the site, which is overgrown with large shrubs and thick grasses. Photo by Josiah Lau
This photograph was taken on the High Line at the Rail Yards at West 33rd Street, looking south toward the Starett-LeHigh building, which once acted as a freight terminal for trains. Photo by Mat McDermott
Two friendly visitors who took advantage of Rail Yards Weekends. For some people, this was their first-ever visit to the High Line. Photo by Beverly Israely
A lone juniper tree grows between the tracks near West 30th Street and 12th Avenue. Photo by Lenny Spiro
High Line Volunteers Olga Piantieri (middle) and Irene Buchman (right) introduced visitors to the history of the High Line and answered questions. Photo by Liz Ligon
LEFTTwo lovely ladies pose for a shot while sitting on the High Line’s original rail tracks. Photo by Liz LigonRIGHT Bright green vegetation contrasts the rusty railings that surround the elevated railway. Photo by David Wilkinson
From Monarch butterflies, honey bees, and praying mantises, to mourning doves and this warbler, wildlife is visible all along the High Line at the Rail Yards. Photo by Steven Severinghaus
Looking east across the parked Long Island Rail Road trains. Photo by Mike Tschappat
Pictured here, from left to right, are Friends of the High Line staff members Sanaya Kaufman, Danielle Pickett, Jennifer Padavic, and High Line Volunteer Emilia Naberezny in signature UNIQLO jackets. Photo by Liz Ligon
LEFT An early morning view of the sun rising over the Empire State Building. Photo by Kiersten ChouRIGHT The track crossing near 11th Avenue, with the Empire State Building in the distance. Photo by Timothy Schenck
Fall has arrived in New York City and that means the wildflowers are going to seed all along the High Line, including those at the rail yards. Photo by Liz Ligon
Friends of the High Line staff member Vicky Lee and longtime High Line volunteer Karen Loew spoke with visitors about Friends of the High Line and our efforts to save the rail yards section. Photo by Liz Ligon
The High Line at the Rail Yards contains relics of the railway’s past, as well as a variety of miscellaneous items, including this old IBM keyboard left behind in years past. Photo by Oliver Rich
Rail Yards Weekends tours allowed visitors to experience the High Line’s wild, self-seeded landscape, which inspired Friends of the High Line and our supporters to save the High Line from demolition more than 13 years ago. Photo by Liz Ligon
High Line Volunteer Karen Loew speaks to visitors about the history and future of the High Line at the Rail Yards. Photo by Liz Ligon
Looking along West 30th Street, you can see where the finished section of the park meets the High Line at the Rail Yards. Photo by Karen Blumberg
LEFT Visitors look at instructive signage featuring the design renderings for the High Line at the Rail Yards. RIGHT Visitors gathered on what will be soon be a special design feature called the 11th Avenue Bridge, complete with an elevated walkway flanked by bench seating. Photos by Liz Ligon
The High Line at the Rail Yards is home to a variety of self-seeded plants. Photos by Rich Li-Chi Wang
An old radio found amongst debris at the rail yards. Photo by Juan Valentin
LEFT Early morning on the 10th Avenue Spur, the section of the High Line at the Rail Yards that sits over the intersection of West 30th Street and 10th Avenue. Photo by David WilkinsonRIGHT An old switch box stands amongst growing bushes. Photo by Liz Ligon
A view looking north across the West Side Rail Yards. Photo by Lola Phonpadith
High Line Volunteers Melissa Mansur and Zachary Honoroff helped greet guests at check-in at West 34th Street. Photo by Liz Ligon
High Line Co-Founder Robert Hammond (center right) gives a tour to UNIQLO CEO Shin Odake (center left). Thanks to generous support from UNIQLO, we were able to open up access to the rail yards for twice as many tours this year. Photo by Liz Ligon
A view looking north at 11th Avenue. Parts of the High Line at the Rail Yards, like as the railing seen here, are covered in vivid graffiti. Photo by Scott Lynch
Another visitor walks the rails. Photo by Liz Ligon
Standing in the apple grove near the entrance at West 34th Street, High Line Gardener Maeve Turner introduces a visitor to the site. Photo by Juan Valentin
Ahoy, matey! Visitors take in views of the Hudson River behind the photographer, Liz Ligon.
Starlings line up along a railing overlooking the West Side Rail Yards. This time of year, song birds can be seen eating seeds from wild grasses throughout the entire High Line, including the rail yards. Photo by Liz Ligon
With its amazing views of the Empire State Building, the straightaway along West 30th Street is a popular place to take photos. Photo by Liz Ligon
After their walks, visitors picked up gift bags with special Heattech innerwear courtesy of UNIQLO. Photo by Liz Ligon
From left to right, High Line Volunteers Jill Goldstein, Tricia Nelson, and Zachary Honoroff at the gift bag station. We would like to extend a special thank you to UNIQLO for its sponsorship of Rail Yards Weekends and its generous support of the park’s ongoing maintenance and operations. Photo by Liz Ligon
We are grateful to the following individuals and organizations for making this special opportunity possible:
The City of New York, the Empire State Development Corporation, and the Javits Convention Center for granting access and coordinating entry to the site;
UNIQLO for its generous support of Rail Yards Weekends, last year’s High Line Rink, and the park’s ongoing maintenance and operations;
The dedicated volunteers who helped make Rail Yards Weekends a success; and
The dozens of photographers who helped capture the moment before construction begins.
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UNIQLO is the Presenting Sponsor of the Rail Yards Weekends. UNIQLO is a brand of Fast Retailing Co. (FR), a leading global Japanese retail holding company. Today UNIQLO has more than 1,100 stores in 13 markets worldwide. For more information about UNIQLO and other FR group companies, please visit www.uniqlo.com or www.fastretailing.com.