Part 2: The challenges

When CSX acquired 42 percent of the assets of the Conrail in 1998, those assets included 1 1/2 miles of abandoned, crumbling elevated railroad that much of New York City considered an eyesore and a safety hazard. The biggest challenge was finding some use for the property into the future.

“Having almost a mile and half of property through Manhattan is highly unusual,” recalls Steve Crosby, president of CSX Real Property, Inc.

Some sections of the High Line had already been torn down and most New Yorkers, including then Mayor Rudy Giuliani, wanted the rest to go down too.

The leadership of CSX, however, saw in the High Line more than rubble.

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The story of New York’s High Line (part 1 of 5): A brief history
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The story of New York’s High Line (part 3 of 5): The vision
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Improbable Journey: The story of New York’s High Line



S1: Well, CSX and its predecessors date back to 1827 and then we're stewards of a marvelous infrastructure that goes through thousands of communities of the Eastern United States. We're primarily a freight railroad of course, that's our bread and butter.

S2: Well, we acquired the property as part of our acquisition of Conrail, and having almost a mile and a half of property through lower Manhattan is highly unusual. There's nothing else like it.

S1: When we first came to see the High Line in its aging quality, we realized that this was a property no longer used for rail operations, and that we had to find some use for the property into the future.

S2: The High Line had some issues. It was the subject of ongoing lawsuits. It had some deterioration that was being pointed out by building inspectors and others.

S1: So the first strategy, immediately after Conrail was acquired, the push was to demolish it. We didn't necessarily think that was a great thing, but that seemed to be what the city wanted and all the interests wanted.