Park update: The Interim Walkway at the Western Rail Yards (between 30th & 34th Streets) is temporarily closed today.

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Give by June 20

To meet the demands of our busiest time of the year, we ask all friends of the High Line to help us raise a total of $30,000—$1,000 for each block of our 1.5-mile-long park along Manhattan’s West Side.

Photo by Timothy Schenck

Groundbreaking at the High Line at the Rail Yards!

By Kate Lindquist | September 20, 2012

During a ceremonial moment to mark the start of construction, we tossed grass and wildflower seeds onto the High Line at the Rail Yards. Some of the seeds were originally collected from the High Line before construction began on the first section of the park back in 2006.Photo by Timothy Schenck

Earlier today we celebrated an incredible moment in the history of the High Line.

We joined a small group of elected officials, supporters, and friends for a ceremonial groundbreaking on the third and final section of the High Line at the Rail Yards.

Follow us after the jump to see photos, design renderings, and learn more.

A panorama of the speaking portion of the program shows members of the press and some of the High Line’s biggest supporters and friends, including the members of the design team of James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Piet Oudolf.Photo by Jody Fisher

At 10:00 AM this morning, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn joined us to hold a press conference to mark the beginning of construction on the third and final section of the High Line. It was a ceremonial moment – the official construction won’t get underway until next month.

Nevertheless, today was a day for celebration. It marks a new high point in the 13 years of advocacy for the High Line, as we take the first step towards completing the final section of the High Line. Work will proceed in three phases, with the first phase projected to open in 2014, extending the park to the northern terminus of the elevated rail structure at West 34th Street.

As part of today’s festivities, students from Clinton Middle School in Chelsea joined us to toss native plant seeds onto the landscape of the High Line at the Rail Yards. This landscape, which grew up between the tracks when the High Line’s freight trains stopped running in the 1980s, will be partially preserved in the new park. As part of the design for the first phase, we are building an interim walkway through the original, self-seeded wildflowers and grasses that inspired our community to save the High Line from demolition and to transform it into public open space.

NY1 was one of the many news outlets that joined us to celebrate this ceremonial beginning to the construction of the last phase of the High Line.Photo by Timothy Schenck

Attendees were treated to the wild self-seeded landscape of the High Line at the Rail Yards. The interim walkway of the first phase of rail yards construction will allow park visitors to experience the same untouched landscape.Photo by Timothy Schenck

Since its founding in 1999, Friends of the High Line has worked with government officials, supporters, community leaders, and friends to advocate for the preservation and transformation of the entire High Line, including this last half-mile at the rail yards. Today’s events bring us one step closer toward realizing what once seemed like an impossible dream: opening the entire mile-and-a-half of the High Line to the public.

Many people in both the public and private sectors have helped make this historic moment possible.

We would like to thank our elected officials Mayor Michael Bloomberg; the New York City Council, under the leadership of Speaker Christine Quinn and her predecessor Gifford Miller; Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer; U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as our former Senator and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Congressman Jerrold Nadler; Governor Andrew Cuomo; State Senator Tom Duane; State Assembly Members Richard Gottfried and Deborah Glick; our partners at Manhattan Community Boards 2 and 4; our visionary philanthropic leaders Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller, The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, and Donald Pels and Wendy Keys; Related Companies, Oxford Properties Group, Coach, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for its partnership in opening the High Line’s final section; CSX Transportation, Inc. for donating the High Line structure to the City of New York; our Board Chair John Alschuler and Board members, and finally, the hundreds of neighbors, volunteers like you who have dedicated time, energy, and support to our efforts to save the entire High Line and transform it into an extraordinary public park.

Fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg has been a longtime supporter. Late last year, she and her husband, Barry Diller gave a historic $20 million gift to support the construction of the High Line at the Rail Yards, as well as the endowment for the park’s ongoing maintenance and operations.Photo by Joan Garvin

(left) It was the perfect day to be in the High Line at the Rail Yards. Here, IAC Chairman Barry Diller and Co-Founder Robert Hammond enter the site. (right) Mayor Bloomberg and City Planning Chair Amanda Burden have been long-time champions of the High Line. We were thrilled to join them today to celebrate this new chapter.Photo by Timothy Schenck

Speaker Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg walk through the final stretch of the High Line park on their way to the press conference on the rail yards section.Photo by Timothy Schenck

Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn walk along a make-shift path through the self-seeded landscape of the High Line at the Rail Yards, with the future site of Hudson Yards in the background.Photo by Timothy Schenck

Friends of the High Line Co-Founder Robert Hammond walked into the press conference with Wendy Keys and Donald Pels, two long-time supporters.Photo by Joan Garvin

Mayor Bloomberg addresses the audience, with Speaker Quinn, New York State Senator Tom Duane, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, New York State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, Friends of the High Line Co-Founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond, and City Planning Chair Amanda Burden.Photo by Joan Garvin

Co-Founder Robert Hammond spoke briefly, giving thanks to the many elected officials and private individuals whose support helped make the High Line possible.Photo by Joan Garvin

Mayor Bloomberg looks out over the site of the future Hudson Yards development.Photo by Ed Reed

Stephen A. Crosby, president of CSX Real Property, (left) speaks with Mayor Bloomberg. In July, CSX donated the final section of the High Line to the City of New York, just as it had done with the first two sections of the historic railway. This generous donation made it possible for us to proceed with today’s ceremonial groundbreaking.Photo by Timothy Schenck

Friends of the High Line Co-Founder Robert Hammond (center) poses with High Line Board Treasurer Mario Palumbo (left) and Board Member Gifford Miller (right).Photo by Joan Garvin

Today’s groundbreaking ceremony celebrates over a decade of work by Friends of the High Line to preserve and transform the entire historic structure. During the press conference, Co-Founders Joshua David (left) and Robert Hammond (right) shared personal memories from their initial visit to the rail yards section and looked forward to the realization of their longtime goal of opening the entire High Line to the public.Photo by Joan Garvin

We are so thrilled to celebrate this moment today. However, we still have more work to do to fund the estimated total $90 million cost of building the High Line at the Rail Yards.

We are grateful to the Bloomberg administration and New York City Council for contributing $10 million toward capital construction, as well as Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group for committing to provide $27.8 million in funding toward the capital construction of the High Line at the Rail Yards, as well as additional funding for the park’s ongoing maintenance, as part of their development of Hudson Yards.

Friends of the High Line has committed to raise $20 million in funding from philanthropic sources to support the cost of building the High Line at the Rail Yards. We’ll need your continued support as we move forward with construction and continue our efforts to build an endowment for the High Line’s future.

Construction Phasing Map. The High Line at the Rail Yards will be constructed in phases. Phase 1 will extend from the end of Section 2 of the High Line (currently open to the public) all the way to West 34th Street. Phase 2 will cover the area to the east of Section 2, including the 10th Avenue Spur. Phase 1 will include two different types of construction: over the Eastern Rail Yards, the High Line structure will undergo a full capital rehabilitation, and the park will be fully built out to a level similar to the previous sections; over the Western Rail Yards, the work will be limited to an interim walkway installed in the existing landscape that will allow the public to experience the High Line’s remarkable self-seeded wildflowers and grasses. This area will be fully built out in a future Phase 3.

Context Map. Highlighted above in green, the rail yards section of the High Line runs for one-half mile north of the portion of the High Line that is currently open as public space. The rail yards section is located between West 30th and West 34th Streets to the south and north, and 10th and 12th Avenues from the east and west.
Image from Google Maps.

Context Map Detail. The High Line at the Rail Yards wraps around the West Side Yards, an active train yard for Long Island Rail Road. The area over the tracks has been leased by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to The Related Companies to build a platform over the tracks and create the new Hudson Yards mixed-use development above.

Rail Track Walk. View looking west along West 30th Street, just west of 10th Avenue

The rail yards section will extend the High Line’s distinct design vocabulary established south of West 30th Street, evoking the High Line’s history as an active freight rail line. Here, planting beds featuring Piet Oudolf’s naturalistic landscape border a pathway embedded with the High Line’s original tracks, inviting visitors to walk along rails where trains once traveled.

Grasslands Grove. View looking west along West 30th Street, just west of 10th Avenue

Along the High Line that is currently open to the public, the park’s “peel-up” benches are an integral part of the landscape design, rising organically from the planks of the walkway. In the rail yards section of the High Line, the “peel-up” benches will evolve into a new family of design elements to create more seating, picnic areas, play features, and more.

11th Avenue Bridge. View looking west toward the Hudson River, just east of 11th Avenue

As the High Line travels over 11th Avenue, the primary pathway will slowly ramp up, creating an elevated catwalk that will raise visitors approximately two feet above the High Line level to take in panoramic views of the cityscape and Hudson River. Lush display gardens on either side of the catwalk will separate the primary pathway from the more intimate linear bench seating running along the railing on either side of the bridge.

Catwalk. View looking south at 11th Avenue

Park visitors seated on the 11th Avenue Bridge will have a dramatic view of the public promenade unfolding before them, framed by lush plantings in the foreground and the City skyline beyond.

Beam Exploration Area. View looking east, just west of 11th Avenue

The third and final section of the High Line will feature a dedicated area for kids and families. Just west of 11th Avenue, the railway’s concrete deck will be removed, revealing the framework of the High Line’s original beams and girders, covered with a thick rubber safety coating, and transformed into a unique feature for kids to explore the High Line in a new way.

Interim Walkway. View looking northwest, where the High Line curves north at the intersection of West 30th Street and 12th Avenue

While western portion of the rail yards will feature an interim solution – a simple path through the existing self-seeded landscape – that will allow the public to directly experience the wildflowers and grasses that grew between the tracks once travelled by the freight trains. Here, the walkway winds along the curve of the High Line at West 30th Street and 12th Avenue, and provides visitors a new opportunity to experience the original railroad tracks and Hudson River.

Join the High Line on Facebook, follow @highlinenyc on Twitter, and sign up for our enews to receive updates on construction at the High Line at the Rail Yards.