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June 13, 2005 (New York, NY) – The High Line project received a crucial federal authorization today, effectively opening the way for the High Line's transformation to public open space.

The Surface Transportation Board (STB), the federal body that oversees rail corridors, issued a Certificate of Interim Trail Use (CITU) for the High Line. The CITU enables CSX Transportation, the High Line's current owner, to negotiate a trail use agreement with the City of New York. This agreement would transfer control of the High Line to the City for use as a public walkway and open space.

"The STB's ruling is a great win for all New Yorkers," said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "It allows us to implement our plans to preserve this valuable historic resource, create a much-needed public open space, and strengthen our city's economy."

"Thanks to the STB's ruling, we can move forward with plans to create one of the State's most unique and exciting public open spaces on the West Side of Manhattan," Governor George E. Pataki said. "By using the visionary railbanking program to transform this historic structure, we demonstrate New York's commitment to preserving its heritage and its environment at the same time that we create economic development opportunities for our future."

"We're very pleased with the STB's ruling," said John P. Casellini, Vice President for Public Affairs, CSX Corporation. "We look forward to working with the City of New York on an agreement that will allow the High Line to be used for the public's benefit."

"This is the most important victory yet for the High Line," said Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line (FHL). "Just six years ago, saving the High Line seemed like an impossible dream—and now it's reality. Thanks to railbanking, which preserves priceless transportation corridors and permits their reuse as public parks and walkways, one of New York City's most exciting preservation and urban planning projects can now move toward construction."


About the STB Ruling
By issuing a CITU, the STB has enabled the City and CSX Transportation to conclude agreements that will allow the High Line to become a railbanked trail. Railbanking, a method of creating trails from out-of-use rail corridors, was established by a 1983 Congressional amendment to the National Trails Systems Act. There are over 13,000 miles of rail-trails across the country, with nearly 16,000 more in development.

The City originally petitioned the STB for the CITU in December 2002. Subsequently, the State of New York and CSX Transportation filed with the STB supporting the City's request. In addition, a group representing the underlying property owners filed with the STB withdrawing its previous objections to railbanking.


Next Steps
The City of New York and CSX Transportation will proceed to conclude an agreement for trail use on the High Line. This legal structure is expected to include a transfer of ownership of the High Line from CSX Transportation to the City. Ground-breaking is projected for later this year. It is anticipated that the first phase of the High Line to be converted (from Gansevoort Street to 15th Street) will open to the public in late 2007 or early 2008.


Other Recent Advances for the High Line Project
• Funding: In the fall of 2004, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller announced new capital funding commitments to the High Line project. The City's capital funding commitment now stands at $51.3 million. Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton worked with Congressman Jerrold Nadler to bring $1 million to the project in the FY 2005 omnibus appropriations bill. Congressman Nadler has also included $5 million for the High Line in the six-year transportation bill now moving through Congress; Senators Schumer and Clinton are working to supplement that allocation while the bill is in the Senate. $3 million in federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) funding was allocated to the project by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council's New York City Transportation Coordinating Committee in January 2005. In addition, New York State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried worked to bring $50,000 in State Multi-Modal Transportation Program funds to the High Line.

• Design/MoMA Exhibition: A widely acclaimed Preliminary Design for the first phase of the High Line's transformation (from Gansevoort Street to 15th Street) is on view at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York City, until October 31, 2005. The Preliminary Design was created by Field Operations (landscape architecture), Diller Scofidio + Renfro (architecture), and a team of consultants including experts in engineering, security, lighting, and numerous other disciplines. The Preliminary Design can also be viewed at www.thehighline.org/design.

• Zoning: A rezoning proposal for the West Chelsea neighborhood surrounding the High Line is now moving through the City's public review process. The proposed rezoning includes a number of provisions intended to support the High Line's reuse as a public space. The proposal would also provide opportunities for new residential and commercial development and would enhance the neighborhood's thriving art gallery district. Adoption of the rezoning proposal is expected to take place in June 2005.

• Dia Plans Move to High Line: On May 9, Dia Art Foundation announced a proposal to construct a new museum adjacent to the High Line. The museum would be located at the corner of Gansevoort and Washington Streets, at the High Line's southern terminus, on a City-owned site in the Meatpacking District. Dia seeks to have the main entrance to the new exhibition space on the High Line level. The plan must go through the City's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) before construction can begin.


High Line Project Background
Since 1999, Friends of the High Line (FHL) has been working to preserve the High Line for reuse as an elevated walkway. The City of New York endorsed the project in 2002, when it filed with the STB for a CITU.

The High Line was built in the 1930s as part of the West Side Improvement, a major transportation infrastructure project which eliminated street-level rail crossings from the northern tip of Manhattan down to Spring Street. When rail traffic declined in the 1960s, the southern section of the Line was demolished.

Legal disputes about the future of the High Line began in the mid-1980s, after the final train rolled down its tracks pulling a carload of frozen turkeys. Underlying property owners began lobbying for the structure's demolition, arguing that the Line prevented them from developing their properties. A local resident named Peter Obletz fought for the Line's preservation, at one point even purchasing the Line from Conrail (the High Line's owner at that time) for $10. The purchase was later challenged and overturned by the underlying property owners.

In 1992, the Interstate Commerce Commission (which later became the STB) issued a conditional abandonment order, which would have allowed demolition of the structure if certain financial conditions were met by the underlying property owners. The attempts to satisfy those conditions were never approved by both the railroad owner and the STB.

In 1999, neighborhood residents Joshua David and Robert Hammond founded Friends of the High Line with the mission of converting the structure to an elevated public space—a greenway or promenade—and began building community support.

The Giuliani administration favored and worked towards the demolition of the High Line. When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took office, he directed his administration to take a fresh look at the High Line's potential. In 2002, FHL commissioned an economic feasibility study that showed that the High Line would add value to its surrounding neighborhood, generating $262 million in new tax revenues over a 20-year period. In December of 2002, the City changed its policy and took the first step to converting the High Line to a public walkway by filing with the STB for a CITU. The State of New York and CSX Corporation filed in support of the City's petition in the fall of 2004, and the underlying property owners filed to withdraw their objections to railbanking later that year.


About Friends of the High Line (FHL)
FHL is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization established to preserve the High Line for reuse as an elevated public open space. Support for the project comes from hundreds of local residents, business-owners, and civic organizations, as well numerous elected officials. For more information on Friends of the High Line, please visit www.thehighline.org.


PLEASE NOTE: The High Line is currently private property, owned by CSX Transportation, and managed by CSX and the City. At this time, the site is not open to the public, and trespassers will be subject to prosecution.


Contact:
Joshua David, FHL (212) 206-9922; josh@thehighline.org
Robert Hammond, FHL, (212) 206-9922; robert@thehighline.org


Surface Transportation Board grants railbanking certificate, allowing reuse of New York City's elevated rail structure as pedestrian walkway

June 13, 2005 (New York, NY)—The High Line project received a crucial federal authorization today, effectively opening the way for the High Line's transformation to public open space.

The Surface Transportation Board (STB), the federal body that oversees rail corridors, issued a Certificate of Interim Trail Use (CITU) for the High Line. The CITU enables CSX Transportation, the High Line's current owner, to negotiate a trail use agreement with the City of New York. This agreement would transfer control of the High Line to the City for use as a public walkway and open space.

"The STB's ruling is a great win for all New Yorkers," said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "It allows us to implement our plans to preserve this valuable historic resource, create a much-needed public open space, and strengthen our city's economy."

"Thanks to the STB's ruling, we can move forward with plans to create one of the State's most unique and exciting public open spaces on the West Side of Manhattan," Governor George E. Pataki said. "By using the visionary railbanking program to transform this historic structure, we demonstrate New York's commitment to preserving its heritage and its environment at the same time that we create economic development opportunities for our future."

"We're very pleased with the STB's ruling," said John P. Casellini, Vice President for Public Affairs, CSX Corporation. "We look forward to working with the City of New York on an agreement that will allow the High Line to be used for the public's benefit."

"This is the most important victory yet for the High Line," said Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line (FHL). "Just six years ago, saving the High Line seemed like an impossible dream—and now it's reality. Thanks to railbanking, which preserves priceless transportation corridors and permits their reuse as public parks and walkways, one of New York City's most exciting preservation and urban planning projects can now move toward construction."


About the STB Ruling
By issuing a CITU, the STB has enabled the City and CSX Transportation to conclude agreements that will allow the High Line to become a railbanked trail. Railbanking, a method of creating trails from out-of-use rail corridors, was established by a 1983 Congressional amendment to the National Trails Systems Act. There are over 13,000 miles of rail-trails across the country, with nearly 16,000 more in development.

The City originally petitioned the STB for the CITU in December 2002. Subsequently, the State of New York and CSX Transportation filed with the STB supporting the City's request. In addition, a group representing the underlying property owners filed with the STB withdrawing its previous objections to railbanking.


Next Steps
The City of New York and CSX Transportation will proceed to conclude an agreement for trail use on the High Line. This legal structure is expected to include a transfer of ownership of the High Line from CSX Transportation to the City. Ground-breaking is projected for later this year. It is anticipated that the first phase of the High Line to be converted (from Gansevoort Street to 15th Street) will open to the public in late 2007 or early 2008.


Other Recent Advances for the High Line Project
• Funding: In the fall of 2004, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller announced new capital funding commitments to the High Line project. The City's capital funding commitment now stands at $51.3 million. Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton worked with Congressman Jerrold Nadler to bring $1 million to the project in the FY 2005 omnibus appropriations bill. Congressman Nadler has also included $5 million for the High Line in the six-year transportation bill now moving through Congress; Senators Schumer and Clinton are working to supplement that allocation while the bill is in the Senate. $3 million in federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) funding was allocated to the project by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council's New York City Transportation Coordinating Committee in January 2005. In addition, New York State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried worked to bring $50,000 in State Multi-Modal Transportation Program funds to the High Line.

• Design/MoMA Exhibition: A widely acclaimed Preliminary Design for the first phase of the High Line's transformation (from Gansevoort Street to 15th Street) is on view at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York City, until October 31, 2005. The Preliminary Design was created by Field Operations (landscape architecture), Diller Scofidio + Renfro (architecture), and a team of consultants including experts in engineering, security, lighting, and numerous other disciplines. The Preliminary Design can also be viewed at www.thehighline.org/design.

• Zoning: A rezoning proposal for the West Chelsea neighborhood surrounding the High Line is now moving through the City's public review process. The proposed rezoning includes a number of provisions intended to support the High Line's reuse as a public space. The proposal would also provide opportunities for new residential and commercial development and would enhance the neighborhood's thriving art gallery district. Adoption of the rezoning proposal is expected to take place in June 2005.

• Dia Plans Move to High Line: On May 9, Dia Art Foundation announced a proposal to construct a new museum adjacent to the High Line. The museum would be located at the corner of Gansevoort and Washington Streets, at the High Line's southern terminus, on a City-owned site in the Meatpacking District. Dia seeks to have the main entrance to the new exhibition space on the High Line level. The plan must go through the City's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) before construction can begin.


High Line Project Background
Since 1999, Friends of the High Line (FHL) has been working to preserve the High Line for reuse as an elevated walkway. The City of New York endorsed the project in 2002, when it filed with the STB for a CITU.

The High Line was built in the 1930s as part of the West Side Improvement, a major transportation infrastructure project which eliminated street-level rail crossings from the northern tip of Manhattan down to Spring Street. When rail traffic declined in the 1960s, the southern section of the Line was demolished.

Legal disputes about the future of the High Line began in the mid-1980s, after the final train rolled down its tracks pulling a carload of frozen turkeys. Underlying property owners began lobbying for the structure's demolition, arguing that the Line prevented them from developing their properties. A local resident named Peter Obletz fought for the Line's preservation, at one point even purchasing the Line from Conrail (the High Line's owner at that time) for $10. The purchase was later challenged and overturned by the underlying property owners.

In 1992, the Interstate Commerce Commission (which later became the STB) issued a conditional abandonment order, which would have allowed demolition of the structure if certain financial conditions were met by the underlying property owners. The attempts to satisfy those conditions were never approved by both the railroad owner and the STB.

In 1999, neighborhood residents Joshua David and Robert Hammond founded Friends of the High Line with the mission of converting the structure to an elevated public space—a greenway or promenade—and began building community support.

The Giuliani administration favored and worked towards the demolition of the High Line. When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took office, he directed his administration to take a fresh look at the High Line's potential. In 2002, FHL commissioned an economic feasibility study that showed that the High Line would add value to its surrounding neighborhood, generating $262 million in new tax revenues over a 20-year period. In December of 2002, the City changed its policy and took the first step to converting the High Line to a public walkway by filing with the STB for a CITU. The State of New York and CSX Corporation filed in support of the City's petition in the fall of 2004, and the underlying property owners filed to withdraw their objections to railbanking later that year.


About Friends of the High Line (FHL)
FHL is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization established to preserve the High Line for reuse as an elevated public open space. Support for the project comes from hundreds of local residents, business-owners, and civic organizations, as well numerous elected officials. For more information on Friends of the High Line, please visit www.thehighline.org.


PLEASE NOTE: The High Line is currently private property, owned by CSX Transportation, and managed by CSX and the City. At this time, the site is not open to the public, and trespassers will be subject to prosecution.


Contact:
Joshua David, FHL (212) 206-9922; josh@thehighline.org
Robert Hammond, FHL, (212) 206-9922; robert@thehighline.org # # #
On June 15, the High Line project will face its most important public hearing to date. Just by showing up, you will play an essential role in the creation of a great new public open space that will benefit New York City for generations to come.

Come help us turn the dream of the High Line into reality.

Wednesday, June 15, 9:30am
Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, City Hall
(Subway: C, E, to Chambers/WTC; 1,2, to Park Place; 6, N, R to Bkln Bridge/City Hall)

Free FHL T-shirts for those who attend. These limited-edition T-shirts, featuring Joe Marianek's winning design from our recent contest, will only be available to those who attend the June 15 City Council hearing.

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You don't have to speak – but you can if you want to (and we encourage you to). The most important thing: Just come to City Hall. You'll be shaping New York City's future.

About the June 15 hearing: The New York City Council will hear testimony regarding a rezoning proposal for West Chelsea. The proposed rezoning includes provisions that are essential to the conversion of the High Line to public open space. It's vital that you show just how much you care about the High Line so that the zoning and its important High Line provisions can move forward.

Easiest way to participate: Just show up! Come to City Hall at 9:15am; get your free FHL t-shirt, and stay for as long as you can. It's most important that we have a great turnout in the first two hours…. Even if you have to leave after the first hour or two, you will be helping the High Line just by showing up at the start. We also need people to show up at 10:30 and 11:30, too. So just come at any time you can—and stay for as long as you can.

Help even more: Sign up to speak. By signing up to speak, you will become a true High Line hero. Anyone may speak as an individual or as a representative of a larger group. It may take a while, however, before your turn is called, so plan on being at City Hall for a few hours if you want to speak. Please contact us if you are interesting in speaking. We will try to make it easy for you. E-mail community@thehighline.org; or call (212) 206-9922 and ask for Katie.

Can't attend? Send a letter. Attending the hearing is the best thing you can do for the High Line. If your schedule does not allow it, then please take a few moments to send a letter. View Letter Instructions and download sample text. Or join our list of supporters. Just e-mail community@thehighline.org, give us your name and zip code, and we'll add you to the list of supporters we present to the City Council.

Please come to City Hall on June 15! By giving a few hours of your time, you will make New York City a better place.

Today The New York Times reports that the Dia Art Foundation plans to construct a new museum adjacent to the High Line. The museum would be located at the corner of Gansevoort and Washington Streets, at the High Line's southern terminus, in the Meatpacking District.

Read The New York Times article

About Dia: Dia Art Foundation was founded in 1974. A nonprofit institution, Dia plays a vital role among visual-arts organizations nationally and internationally by initiating, supporting, presenting, and preserving art projects, and by serving as a locus for interdisciplinary art and criticism. Dia presents its permanent collection at Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries, in Beacon, New York; exhibitions and public programming in New York City; and long-term, site-specific projects in the western United States, in New York City, and on Long Island. For more information: http://www.diacenter.org

"The new High Line park, an industrial reclamation project in-keeping with Dia's long-standing interest in renovating existing structures, will become one of the most exciting new features of New York City," said Dia's President and Director Michael Govan. "We would like to provide a cultural anchor for this innovative public space. It's perfect for Dia – we would have two large light-filled museums on the Hudson, one in Beacon for the collection and one in Manhattan for more contemporary exhibitions." The Nabisco printing facility that has become Dia:Beacon was originally connected by the High Line rail to the former Nabisco buildings on 14th Street, as well as to Dia's proposed new site a few blocks south. The Hudson River's proximity and the adjacent single-story meat market buildings afford the location an unusual abundance of light and open space, not unlike Dia's property in Beacon.

Dia's proposal will require a public review process, and approval by the City of New York. Dia hopes that, if approved, the new facility could open as early as 2007 in conjunction with the first phase of the High Line.

The May 4 edition of The Wall Street Journal included a very positive review by architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable of "The High Line" exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art and the High Line project as a whole.

"'The High Line'—a project initiated by a private group, the Friends of the High Line, which has already enlisted state and city support and funding—brings us home to New York and a proposal that ranks with the best of them," writes Huxtable. "This imaginative and sensitive scheme is so well conceived and its design development is being so well orchestrated, in everything from its excellent Web site to its practical execution, that it serves as an object lesson for a preservation movement increasingly mired in sentimentality, amateurism and political infighting as judgment is defaulted through a lack of appropriate critical standards for modernist buildings coming of age."

Read The Wall Street Journal article

Friends of the High Line is looking for a new T-shirt design. The shirts will be worn by members of the public who want to show support for the High Line at an upcoming New York City Council hearing. Following the hearing, the shirts will be sold in local stores.

Contest Deadline: May 11, 2005

The winning designer will receive two tickets to Friends of the High Line's 5th Annual Summer Benefit, on July 13, 2005 ($1,000 value).

View guidelines and submission requirements

Friends of the High Line is looking for a new T-shirt design. The shirts will be worn by members of the public who want to show support for the High Line at an upcoming New York City Council hearing. Following the hearing, the shirts will be sold in local stores.

Contest Deadline: May 11, 2005.

The winning designer will receive two tickets to Friends of the High Line's 5th Annual Summer Benefit, on July 13, 2005 ($1,000 value).

View Guidelines and Submission Requirements

FHL is currently seeking a Special Projects Manager. This person will be responsible for coordinating with current staff to manage special projects including community outreach, business outreach, volunteer coordination, marketing, archiving, community events, and education programs.

View Job Description and Application Details.

Friends of the High Line is pleased to announce the launch of a new Web site showcasing High Line preliminary designs by the team of Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The site features selections from a Framework Plan for the whole High Line and a Preliminary Design for first section to be constructed, from Gansevoort Street to 15th Street.

The preliminary designs were created by the design team under the direction of Friends of the High Line and the City of New York, with public input gathered at multiple community input forums. Selections from this work are also on view at the Museum of Modern Art, through July 18. For more information on the MoMA exhibition, go to the MoMA Web site.

The overall concept and design for the Web site was led by PSNew York, a bi-coastal design studio, in collaboration with Unity Theory, which was responsible for the flash development. "The site was envisioned to embody the meandering, exploratory quality of the design team's work," said PSNew York's Penelope Hardy. "Built as a long scrolling path, the site's linear experience allows visitors to stop in each section and gather more detailed information about the preliminary design."

FHL encourages all visitors to the site to submit comments and questions on the preliminary designs through the design site's Feedback section or by sending an e-mail to community@thehighline.org.

View New Design Site

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