OCTOBER 18 , 2001
We expected that the destruction of the World Trade Center and the complex challenge of rebuilding lower Manhattan would put plans to demolish the High Line on hold. Unfortunately, the Chelsea Property Owners and the mayor's office have resumed their efforts to finalize a demolition agreement before the end of the year--and before the start of a new mayoral administration. They rush because both mayoral candidates, Mark Green and Michael Bloomberg, are strong supporters of saving the High Line.
Recent events make rushing to demolish the High Line seem even more short-sighted than it did before September 11:
- Massive Disruption: The demolition would take over 18 months and result in increased traffic congestion, street closings, noise, dust and debris issues, and danger to adjacent buildings across a 22-block area. This is not what the city needs right now.
- No Community Input: Even thought the City Council unanimously passed a resolution in favor of rail-banking the High Line, the Council is not being consulted on the demolition agreement. Neither is the Borough President or Community Boards 2 and 4, through which the High Line passes. This is highly unusual. Such massive changes to the structure of the city are generally submitted to the City Council, Community Boards, and the Borough President's office in a Uniform Land Use Reveiw Procedure, or ULURP.
- New City Planning: As New York begins to consider planning issues in light of the WTC destruction, the city should not rush to demolish an existing piece of infrastructure 1.5 miles long, which would be a significant asset to redevelopment proposals being considered for the 30th Street Rail Yards. Public funding for parks may seem like a luxury at present, but an open space that adds value to economic development efforts pursued by the city, and which creates an alternative transportation corridor that links communities and mitigates pollution, and which supports cultural and recreational tourism, can be funded in ways that other parks cannot. Reusing the High Line makes more sense than ever for New York City.
Friends of the High Line will take all necessary steps to prevent the High Line's demolition, and we are evaluating our legal options. We will keep you posted. We may need your support in the coming weeks.
The planning study undertaken by The Design Trust for Public Space will be completed by the end of the year. The study will be published simultaneously with an exhibit at the Municipal Art Society, opening in late January, 2002. Keller Easterling's companion study will be released as a Web site early next month. We are currently in the process of planning a 2002 design competition for the High Line's reuse. We are looking for private, corporate, or foundation sponsors for the Municipal Art Society High Line exhibit. If you have any leads, please share them with us.
High Line photographs by Joel Sternfeld will be exhibited at the Pace Wildenstein Gallery, starting November 14. 534 West 25th Street; 212- 929-7000.
HIGH LINE SCREEN SAVERS
John Rust, an artist who lives near the High Line, has created High Line screen savers. Click on the link below:http://www.nycartwork.com/highline/highlinescreen.html
We will keep you posted.
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