New Year Update: 2004 Plans and 2003 Achievements

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New Year Update: 2004 Plans and 2003 Achievements

Friends of the High Line made major progress in 2003. The High Line's conversion to public space isn't a "done deal" yet—we still need to secure essential state and federal endorsements. But thanks to help from supporters like you, we've gotten much closer to creating a public space of unprecedented innovation and beauty atop this one-of-a-kind structure. Below, FHL's plans for 2004, and our achievements in 2003.

2004 PLANS

"Trail Use" Agreement: In 2004 FHL will be working to assist transfer of control of the High Line from CSX, the railroad that currently controls it, to the City of New York for reuse as public open space. On July 24, FHL testified with the City of New York before the Surface Transportation Board (STB) in support of rail-banking the Line. (Rail-banking is the federal mechanism that allows rail corridors to be preserved as trails.) On October 2, the City filed a request to the STB to hold the matter in abeyance while the City holds discussions with affected stakeholders to resolve outstanding issues. The STB originally granted the request for an abeyance until January 5, 2004, and has since extended it to April 5, 2004. FHL hopes the negotiations in progress will ultimately pave the way for rail-banking. We will keep you updated on all relevant developments via this e-mail newsletter.

Design Master Plan: From its inception, FHL has dedicated itself to making the High Line as beautiful and original as the best public spaces in the world. FHL held a competition in 2003 to catalyze the creation of visionary ideas. Now we start the process of creating a master plan that embodies the creative spirit of the best competition entries but is also buildable, maintainable, and economically rational. During 2004, FHL and its partners, including the City of New York, will manage the creation of a comprehensive and realistic design master plan, one that covers the landscape on the High Line's upper deck, access, lighting, security, and programming.

Creating the design master plan will be a complex endeavor, involving architects, landscape architects, engineers, and numerous other experts. FHL is now working with the City of New York to determine the precise structure and timetable of the design process. As it is currently envisioned, a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) will start the master plan process. This will be followed by a Request for Proposals (RFP). Based on responses to the RFP, a design team will be selected and that team will develop a master plan that includes a comprehensive design vision for the Line as whole and as well as a highly detailed proposal of one segment of the Line.

FHL will issue regular announcements and updates about the design process through this e-mail newsletter.

State Endorsement: The State of New York has not yet endorsed the reuse of the High Line for public open space. Winning state approval is a key priority for FHL in 2004.


Change in Policy: The year began with a new, pro-High Line policy from the City of New York. The policy change was signaled by the City's legal petition to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) in Washington requesting the start of the federal "rail-banking" process, which would allow the High Line to be used as public open space.

Design Competition: In January 2003, FHL launched Designing the High Line, an open, international ideas competition, soliciting forward-thinking proposals for the structure's reuse. 720 individuals and teams from 36 countries submitted proposals. These were evaluated by a renowned panel of jurors in May 2003, displayed at Grand Central Terminal in July 2003, and viewed by over 100,000 people. All 720 entries can be viewed online at

Funding: On July 9, New York City Council Speaker Gifford Miller announced a $15.75 million funding commitment for capital costs related to the High Line's conversion to public space.

STB Hearing: On July 24, FHL testified with the City of New York before the Surface Transportation Board (STB) in support of rail-banking the Line. (Rail-banking is the federal mechanism that allows rail corridors to be preserved as trails.) City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, and City Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden all appeared to testify. It was the first time the City supported the High Line project in such a public and coordinated manner. The STB is holding the matter in abeyance until April 5, 2004, while the City meets with CSX and other stakeholders to resolve outstanding issues.

Historic District: On September 9, the Landmarks Preservation Commission gave landmark designation to the Gansevoort Market Historic District, one of three neighborhoods linked by the High Line. Mayor Bloomberg said the designation, along with the High Line's reuse, were at the "core of the administration's plans" to "revitalize the Far West Side". In late-December, 2003, FHL moved its office to the newly-designated historic district.

Community Input Forum: On October 28, FHL convened a meeting with 400 community participants to review proposals created in the Designing the High Line competition, share ideas, express priorities, and determine a set of community design goals. To see a summary of the forum, go to: