The National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Judge rules against demolition plans for New York's historic elevated rail
Story by Elizabeth Brennan / Mar. 14, 2002
Lower Manhattan's High Line (Joel Sternfeld)

The Friends of the High Line are "cautiously optimistic" that they’ll be walking their dogs and taking evening strolls along the elevated rail structure on the West Side of Manhattan soon.

Yesterday, a New York state supreme court judge ruled that the city’s Surface Transportation Board’s plans to demolish the High Line, "undertaken in violation of ‘lawful procedure,’" must undergo a review process.

The judge’s ruling responded to a lawsuit filed last December by the New York City Council, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, six Chelsea residents, and Friends of the High Line.

"Our mission is to preserve and reuse public space," says Robert Hammond, Friends of the High Line cofounder and Greenwich Village resident. "Rarely do you have the opportunity to have so much open space that passes through three different neighborhoods."

The 1.45-mile-long stretch of track runs from 34th Street along the Hudson River through West Chelsea into the Meatpacking District. The High Line was built in the 1930s to elevate dangerous railroad traffic above city streets like 10th Avenue, which was known as "Death Avenue."

Friends of the High Line, along with the Design Trust for Public Space, released a 12-month study in early February outlining the High Line’s potential for reuse.

A host of prominent supporters, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), and actor Kevin Bacon, support the groups’ plans to transform it into a trail. Hammond estimates the cost at $40-60 million; a feasibility study is under way.

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