highlighted mobile

At its last meeting, on April 2, Manhattan Community Board No. 4 voted 28-1 to support FHL's efforts to preserve and reuse the High Line for pedestrian use. The Board's vote was a reflection of the overwhelming community support that has developed for the High Line in recent years. We owe huge thanks to the many dedicated High Line preservationists who attended and spoke at Board meetings in the past year. Their presence and testimony made clear to the Board the breadth and depth of community commitment to the High Line. We also thank the elected officials whose backing was crucial: U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, City Council Member Christine Quinn, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, State Senators Thomas Duane and Eric Schneiderman, and State Assemblymembers Richard Gottfried and Deborah Glick.

Wednesday, April 2, 2003, 6:00 PM
St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital
1000 Tenth Avenue (58th & 59th Streets)

This Wednesday, April 2, Manhattan Community Board No. 4 will vote on a resolution in support of the preservation and reuse of the High Line. If you are a resident or business-owner in the High Line area, or if you represent a civic organization with links to the issue, you can sign up to speak in support of the pro-High Line resolution. The meeting date, time, and location are above.

The CB4 resolution follows many months of discussion and meetings. At two public CB4-sponsored meetings, in April 2002 and February 2003, community residents, business-owners, and civic groups came out in force to support the High Line. At both hearings, opinion in favor of preservation and reuse in the packed rooms was virtually unanimous. These public meetings led CB4’s Chelsea Planning and Preservation Committee to vote 9-1, with with one abstaining, to recommend that the full Board of CB4 support the High Line preservation and reuse initiative.

FHL often gets requests for tours of the High Line’s elevated rail platform. FHL does not control access to the High Line, which is private property, owned and managed by CSX Corporation. Sometimes CSX will allow FHL to bring a community-based group or a civic organization on the Line. If you represent a local community group or civic organization that wants to tour a portion of the Line, please contact Justin Rood; (212) 631-9188 or via e-mail at: Unfortunately we cannot offer tours to individuals, student groups, or those entering the design competition.

About trespassing: In the last few weeks, there has been an increase in illegal trespassing on the Line. Accessing the Line without CSX permission is illegal, and we’ve heard reports of numerous ticketings and arrests. FHL urges its supporters in the strongest terms not to trespass in this manner. Trespassing on the Line threatens FHL’s working relationship with CSX, which in turn may threaten our long-term ability to open the Line to full and complete public access. Help us save the High Line and open it to the public: Don’t trespass.

  • Reminder: "Designing the High Line" registration ends April 25. Submissions are due May 23. Go to for information and registration.
  • Help Spread the Word: Friends of the High Line needs volunteer assistance distributing competition posters and postcards to businesses in the High Line neighborhood. We will be distributing on Thursday, April 3, from 6:30pm – 7:30pm, as well as at other times (to be announced). If you can help, please contact Olivia Stinson at (212) 631-9188 or via e-mail at:
  • Save the Dates: "Designing the High Line" will be exhibited at Grand Central Terminal July 10-26. Friends of the High Line's annual summer benefit party will be held on at a special preview night, July 9. FHL still seeks event sponsors and host committee members. For more information, contact Juliet Page, (212) 631-9188 or via e-mail at:

FHL is seeking pro-bono or discounted press relations work in conjunction with its open ideas competition, "Designing the High Line," and the major exhibition scheduled for July 10-26 at Grand Central Terminal. If you have press relations experience and you’re interested in helping us get the word out, please contact Robert Hammond at (212) 631-9188 or via e-mail at:

The competition's guidelines, registration, and background research are all online at

Questions Deadline: April 4, 2003
Answers Posted: April 21, 2003
Registration Deadline: April 25, 2003
Late Registration Deadline: May 16, 2003
Submission Deadline: May 23, 2003
Jury: May 30, 2003
Exhibition: July 9-26, 2003

Fees: $50.00 for individuals and teams registering before April 25th, 2003($100.00 after the 25th); $300.00 for university architecture studios (up to 15 entries per studio) registering before April 25th, 2003 ($450.00 after the 25th).

The competition is open to architects, landscape architects, horticulturalists, artists, engineers, community members, students, and all other interested parties.

Awards: The top prize is $5,000.00, followed by a $2,500.00 prize and a $1,000.00 prize. In addition, a prize will be awarded (prize-type to be determined) to the most compelling solution to the challenge of universal access to the structure's elevated rail platform. Also, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is sponsoring a "New York Heritage Award" prize (amount to be determined) for the best design incorporating the New York area's native plants and wildflowers.

To publicize the competition, we have printed a competition poster that will be mailed in the coming week. To encourage people to inform others of the competition, we will also have an HTML e-mail late this week that you can forward to friends and co-workers.

Julie Bargmann: Landscape Architect and Professor of Landscape architecture at the University of Virginia
Vishaan Chakrabarti: Director of Manhattan Office, New York City Department of City Planning
John Lee Compton: Co-Chair Chelsea Preservation and Planning Committee, Manhattan Community Board No. 4
Lynne Cook: Curator, Dia Art Foundation
Steven Holl: Architect
Murray Moss: Owner, Moss
Marilyn Jordan Taylor: Chairman, Skidmore Owings and Merrill
Signe Nielsen: Landscape Architect and Urban Designer
Bernard Tschumi: Architect, Dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
TBD: Friends of the High Line representative
Reed Kroloff: Competition Advisor

"Designing the High Line," FHL's open ideas competition, will culminate in a large-scale exhibition in Grand Central Terminal's Vanderbilt Hall, July 9-26. All winning entries, and as many others as possible, will be exhibited for the half-million visitors who pass through the terminal every day.

Friends of the High Line will host a series of events during the exhibition, including a major opening event, a major benefit party, and a series of public forums. An extensive press outreach strategy will focus national attention on the exhibition and its entries.

Like the High Line, Grand Central Terminal was built by the New York Central Railroad at the height of its power. The terminal is a monument to the importance of historic preservation in New York City, and the surrounding underground tracks, which were platformed over to create Park Avenue, are inspirational models of the ways transportation infrastructure can be used to create compelling public environments. We are very excited to use this exhibition as a way to realize the historical connection between GCT and the High Line.

Designing the High Line: An Open Ideas Competition to Design 1.5 Miles of Manhattan

Competition Materials Now Available Online, click here to view.

Friends of the High Line (FHL) today launched "Designing the High Line," the first-ever international ideas competition seeking visionary design proposals for the reuse of the High Line elevated rail structure, on Manhattan's West Side. The competition, which is funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, is open to architects, landscape architects, horticulturalists, artists, engineers, community members, and all other interested parties. It will culminate in a major exhibition at a high-profile Manhattan location in July 2003.

"FHL has always made design excellence one of its top priorities," says FHL co-founder Robert Hammond. "It's not enough for the High Line to be preserved. It must become a beautiful, exciting, and innovative public open space that invigorates the people who use it and the neighborhoods it serves. How many other opportunities will the city have to design 1.5 miles of Manhattan?"

"Designing the High Line" asks entrants to define a comprehensive vision for the High Line; to propose access systems; to conceive an environment for the structure's elevated rail deck; and to create compelling treatments for the spaces under the Line. Entrants must register by April 25, 2003. Entries are due May 16, 2003. Registration is $50 for individuals and teams; $300 for university architecture studios (up to 15 entries per studio).

In order to provide immediate, widespread access to the competition's guidelines, registration, and background research, all materials related to "Designing the High Line" are available online at

"Designing the High Line" has been in development since Spring 2002, when FHL received a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The competition's official launch follows the City of New York's decision to preserve and reuse the High Line as an elevated walkway. On December 17, 2002, the City applied to the Surface Transportation Board in Washington for a Certificate of Interim Trail Use, or CITU, for the High Line. This action represented a major change in City policy (the previous administration had supported demolition) and an important step forward in the implementation of that policy.

Jurors for "Designing the High Line" will be announced shortly, as will the venue for the July exhibition. Please check the competition website regularly for updates.

Friends of the High Line (FHL) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and reuse of the High Line, an elevated rail structure on the West Side of Manhattan.

Built in the 1930s as an elevated passageway for freight trains, the High Line runs for 1.5 miles, from 34th Street, along the edge of the Hudson River, through West Chelsea's tree-lined blocks and art galleries, into the heart of the Meat Packing District. Friends of the High Line believes this neglected landmark offers New Yorkers the opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind recreational amenity: a grand, public promenade that can be enjoyed by all residents and visitors in New York City. Preservation and reuse will protect the High Line's potential for future transportation use and link the residential, cultural, commercial, and industrial components of these dynamic Manhattan neighborhoods.

For more information please visit the FHL website at or send e-mail to

Files with Federal Surface Transportation Board to Commence "Rail-banking" Negotiations with Railroad

Signaling an important change in policy towards the High Line elevated rail structure, on Manhattan's Far West Side, the City of New York filed this week with the Surface Transportation Board (STB), in Washington, DC, requesting that negotiations begin to transform the High Line into an elevated public walkway.

"The City seeks a Certificate of Interim Trail Use for the Highline viaduct," stated the City's December 17 filing to the STB. A Certificate of Interim Trail Use, or CITU, would start a process called "rail-banking," which allows out-of-use rail corridors to be reused as recreational trails.

"This is a major first step towards the creation of a spectacular new public space that will benefit New Yorkers for years to come," said Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line (FHL), a non-profit group working to transform the out-of-use rail structure into an elevated walkway. "Much work still needs to be done, but we are confident that a walkway on this unique, historic structure will ultimately allow residents and visitors to walk between three vibrant neighborhoods without ever encountering motorized traffic. It will provide much-needed public open space. And by adding value to surrounding properties, it will contribute to the City's long-term economic health. We applaud the Bloomberg administration for its visionary appreciation of the High Line's potential to be a vital asset to the City."

If the STB grants the City's request for a Certificate of Interim Trail Use, a period of negotiation would begin between the City and CSX Corporation, leading towards a trail-use agreement for the High Line.

The City's request was included in a filing that rebuffed a petition by a small group of demolition proponents who sought to speed proceedings to tear down the High Line. Chelsea Property Owners (CPO), whose members own land under the High Line, had requested the STB's approval of a 2001 demolition agreement that the City signed during the former mayoral administration. That demolition agreement was found to be "undertaken in violation of 'lawful procedure' and... an 'error of law,'" by a New York State Supreme court justice in March 2002. The case is on appeal.

Arguing on December 17 against CPO's petition to the STB, the City stated, "There is serious doubt whether or not a [Demolition] Agreement will ever become a final, valid, and binding agreement among the parties thereto." It noted that the demolition agreement was missing at least one crucial signature; that the railroad that manages the High Line had requested changes to the agreement; and that the 4-week period for completion of the agreement had long passed.

Friends of the High Line has advocated for the reuse of the High Line as an elevated walkway since 1999. The group is about to announce the start of an open design competition seeking ideas for the High Line's reuse. Updates about that competition can be found on the competition's website,

Built in the 1930s to remove dangerous freight trains from City streets, the High Line structure and its easement are owned by New York Central Lines, a wholly owned subsidiary of Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail). As a Conrail shareholder, CSX acquired asset management of the Line in 1999. The federal legislation that permits rail-banking of the High Line was enacted by Congress as part of the National Trails System Act, signed by President Reagan in 1983. Railbanking and similar rails-to-trails initiatives have created 12,000 miles of rail-trails across the United States.

The High Line reuse initiative is supported by, among others, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, New York City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, City Councilmember Christine Quinn, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, State Senator Thomas Duane, State Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, and U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Earlier this year, FHL published "Reclaiming the High Line," the first-ever reuse study of the structure, conducted in partnership with the Design Trust for Public Space. In March, the Preservation League of New York State included the High Line on its "Seven to Save" list of the State's most valuable, threatened historic sites. During the summer 2002, FHL conducted a study examining the feasibility and economic impact of the High Line's conversion. That study is expected to be made public in early 2003. For more information, go to