Part 5: New life

Construction of the first section of the High Line started in April 2006. The section from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street opened to the public in June 2009. So many people wanted to stroll the walkways that entry was limited. The second section, from West 20th Street to West 30th Street, opened June 8, 2011.

The last section, expected to begin construction later this year, runs for one-half mile north of the current park and wraps around the West Side Yards, an active rail yard used by the Long Island Rail Road, bounded by West 30th and West 34th streets to the south and north, and 10th and 12th avenues to the east and west.

The design of the latest section includes the “peel-up” benches that define the design of the existing sections.  In the rail yard section of the High Line, the “peel-up” benches will evolve into a new family of design elements to create more seating, picnic areas and play features. 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. The steel will be covered with a thick rubber safety coating and transformed into a unique type of playground for children.

Now, as transformation of the High Line nears the end of the line, Hammond acknowledges the value of having seasoned railroad men involved, namely Crosby and Shudtz. Hammond says the two CSX executives “had the best understanding how truly difficult and unlikely this would be, and yet they were willing to work with us and give us that opening that helped make it all happen.”

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The story of New York’s High Line (part 4 of 5): The plan
Complete video
Improbable Journey: The story of New York’s High Line



S1: Hey, this has been a moment that I know we've all been eagerly awaiting. After Mayor Bloomberg came in office, we started thinking about design. We did a real design competition in 2004, where we actually selected the design team of James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio and Renfro.

S2: We broke ground in April of 20 and 06, seeing the transformation of this structure beginning was just incredibly moving and beautiful.

S3: The design and construction really achieved the goals of reclaiming a usable past.

S1: The planting is really one of the things that's so special about the High Line. It was done by a garden designer named Piet Oudolf and he really was inspired by this wild landscape that was growing, but now it changes every two weeks.

S2: We opened the first section in 2009.

S4: It was such an outstanding success when it first opened that they had to limit access that summer.

S1: Before we opened we thought, maybe 300,000 people would come a year. Last year, we had 3.7 million visitors and this year we'll definitely have over 4 million visitors, so it's far exceeded anything that we thought of. Every time I look at it, I have to almost pinch myself. You know, I'll be walking in the area, and I'll hear people talking on the phone and they'll say, "Oh, I'll meet you at the High Line," and then we opened the second section, from 20th to 30th Street in 2011.

S2: In coming years, we hope to open the final section at the West Side Rail Yards, bringing the arts to 34th Street.

S3: Well, I think CSX is extremely proud to be part of a project that has been so successful.

S5: This has become an enormous icon of New York City now, and it's a place that people come from all over the world to see.

S2: I think everybody who worked on the project, whether at Friends of the High Line, at CSX or at the city were all grateful for having played a part in something that's really going to have a lasting impact here in New York.

S4: Everyone loves trains and people always love that sense of the journey, and the idea of looking out the window and watching a changing landscape. The High Line, I think evokes and preserves that.

S1: You know, Steve and Pete probably had the best understanding of how truly difficult and unlikely this would be, and yet they were willing to work with us, and give us that opening that helped make it all happen.