A Message from Robert Hammond

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.

I keep reminding myself that I'm not really leaving altogether. I'll always be a part of the High Line family, and I'll continue to be involved with the organization in new ways, but my role is changing. I like the analogy of the loss a parent feels when their kids leave home, but I'm not sure whether it's me or the High Line that's leaving for college.

The one thing I'm not worried about is the High Line. It's in great shape, and it remains in safe hands. Josh is staying on as President and will focus on development. Jenny Gersten starts as Executive Director in January. Coming from the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts, Jenny will be an inspiring leader to carry the High Line into its next chapter. Catie Marron, who has supported the project for many years, will become the Board's Chair, guiding Friends of the High Line as the organization prepares to open the High Line at the Rail Yards in 2014. John Alschuler, who was Chair of the Board since 2009 and whose leadership and friendship has meant so much to me, will remain on the Board and continue to provide wisdom and guidance.

Many people have asked what I'm doing next. I was recently quoted in the press as saying "I don't have a plan." It would have been more accurate if I'd said, "I do have a plan...It's just not a normal career plan."

We didn't have a clear plan when we started working on the High Line, instead the plan evolved over the years. My next chapter isn't mapped out with certainty either. So, here I go again. It's scary and exciting.

My non-plan starts with going to India in January for a meditation retreat. As many of you know, meditation has played an important part in my life over the past five years. I don't expect to have a professional epiphany while sitting on a mountaintop, but you never know.

I'm also working on a film called A Matter of Death and Life, which looks at cities through the lens of Jane Jacobs. I'm co-producing the film with Matt Tyrnauer, a friend who directed Valentino: The Last Emperor. I don't think my next career will be in film, though I'm interested in exploring how cities will evolve in the future.

And I'm planning to give myself some time to work on a few other projects in a variety of fields until I find the next big challenge.

Despite the sadness of leaving, it's also been gratifying to receive so many heartfelt well-wishes. The reality is that the High Line at every stage and every level is about partnerships – with neighbors, volunteers, community leaders, government, local businesses, donors, and the list goes on. Thank you for your partnership and support through this incredible journey.

For me, the most important partnership has been with Josh. No matter how many times I tell the story, it still seems too perfect to be true that we met sitting next to each other at that fateful community board meeting in the summer of 1999. In the High Line book, Josh wrote that he couldn't have made the High Line without me. The truth is that I could never have made the High Line without him. We built this project together, and I'm so thankful for his patience, guidance, and friendship.


See you on the High Line.

With deepest thanks,

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