Mayor Bloomberg, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, and Friends of the High Line Co-Founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond today announced that the City of New York has acquired the third and final section of the High Line from CSX Transportation, Inc., a major step toward completing the vision of preserving the entire historic elevated railway and transforming it into public open space for future generations of New Yorkers to enjoy. CSX has donated the rail yards section to the City, just as it did for the High Line structure south of West 30th Street. This transfer of ownership clears the way for design and construction on the final stretch of the elevated rail viaduct to extend the High Line park to West 34th Street. Design of the rail yards section is underway, and construction is expected to begin later this year.
“The transfer of ownership of the final section of the High Line marks a monumental step toward our goal of opening the entire elevated railway to the public,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “In the three short years since the first section opened as a park, the High Line has become a treasured neighborhood oasis, a significant generator of economic activity for the entire city, and a celebrated icon for planners, designers, and leaders around the world. Transforming the final section of the elevated railway into public space will complete the vision – something that seemed all but impossible just over ten years ago.”
“We have reached an important milestone in the history of the High Line. The transfer of ownership clears the way for us to finish what we started more than a decade ago,” said Speaker Quinn. “Transforming the final section of the High Line will generate new economic benefits for New Yorkers, create more open space on the West Side, and demonstrate what is possible when government and communities work together toward a common goal. I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg, CSX, Friends of the High Line, and the many people who share a commitment to turn an extraordinary vision into a reality.”
“It has been a great privilege to work with Mayor Bloomberg, his skilled administration, and the thoughtful and visionary leadership at Friends of the High Line,” said Michael Ward, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of CSX Corporation. “We view the donation of the High Line as not simply a transfer of ownership, but a contribution to the vitality of the area, and we are thrilled that the entire length of this iconic rail structure will be available for the public to enjoy.”
“We would like to thank the Mayor and the Speaker for their dedication to the High Line, and CSX Transportation, Inc. for sharing the vision of the High Line as a benefit for all New Yorkers. The transfer of ownership is an historic moment, one that brings us one step closer toward our ultimate goal: preserving the entire High Line, and transforming it into a mile-and-a-half of public open space connecting three neighborhoods along Manhattan’s West Side,” said Robert Hammond, Co-Founder of Friends of the High Line.
“This extraordinary partnership between the private and public sector has resulted in a unique and innovative open space that has already become a treasured part of the New York City landscape,” said First Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris. “Manhattan’s West Side has been transformed thanks to this historic investment, and the final section will only further those changes.”
“The High Line is an extraordinary public space that is inspiring people around the world to re-imagine abandoned spaces and out-of-use infrastructure,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “The High Line’s first two phases were groundbreaking and with the development of the rail yards section, the trilogy will be complete. The rail yards section of the High Line represents one-third of the entire historic former rail line, and with its east-west orientation, it offers sweeping views of New York City’s skyline and the Hudson River. I am thankful to Mayor Bloomberg, CSX, the Friends of the High Line, and everyone involved in facilitating this acquisition that will benefit all New Yorkers and visitors.”
“This transfer of ownership to the City marks a major milestone for the High Line, providing, at last, the opportunity for this visionary public amenity to knit together a large portion of Manhattan’s west side,” said City Planning Chair Amanda Burden.
“Today’s announcement is another important step towards realizing the ultimate vision for the High Line,” said New York City Economic Development President Seth W. Pinsky. “Since it originally opened in 2009, the High Line has been a dynamic addition to our City’s landscape, creating an innovative urban park, while at the same time generating billions of dollars in private investment in the surrounding area. With the eventual opening of the entirety of the High Line, what has already been an extraordinary achievement will continue to attract new businesses and generate economic activity, further enhancing Manhattan’s ever-changing West Side as well as the entire City.”
CSX Corporation, based in Jacksonville, Florida, is one of the nation’s leading transportation companies, providing rail, intermodal and rail-to-truck transload services. The company’s transportation network spans approximately 21,000 miles, with service to 23 eastern states, the District of Columbia and two Canadian provinces. CSX’s donation and the transfer of ownership of the rail yards section of the High Line mark another step in a long history of the company’s support for the development of the elevated railway into a unique public space. In 1999, CSX commissioned a study for re-purposing the High Line from the Regional Plan Association that included the possibility of enrolling the viaduct in the Federal “Rails to Trails” program, which would later become the legal framework for transforming the High Line into public open space. In 2005, CSX and the City of New York entered into a Trail Use Agreement for the High Line, and CSX donated the High Line south of West 30th Street to the City. Taken together, these two actions effectively preserved the High Line and led the way for it to open as a public park in 2009.
The rail yards section of the High Line represents one-third of the entire historic freight structure, and runs for one-half mile north of the current High Line park, wrapping around the West Side Yards, an active rail yards 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 LIRR storage yard is the site of the future 26-acre Hudson Yards mixed-use neighborhood being developed by Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, which will include more than 12 million square feet of new office, residential, retail, and cultural space, as well as 14 acres of public space. Wrapping around this new development, the High Line will be a fully integrated open space within Hudson Yards, connecting this new neighborhood with West Chelsea and the Meatpacking District, while providing an historic link to the industrial history on Manhattan’s West Side.
The City of New York and Friends of the High Line are working with High Line Design Team of James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Piet Oudolf to create the design for the High Line at the rail yards. The third and final section of the High Line will extend the park that is currently open to the public, and respond to the unique urban context of the new neighborhood to be developed at Hudson Yards. Initial design concepts were released to the public at a community input meeting in Chelsea in March, 2012.
“The High Line is one of our city’s beloved public spaces, and it is also a backyard park for New Yorkers who live and work in West Chelsea,” said Corey Johnson, Chair of Manhattan Community Board 4. “We are thrilled that the City is now poised to begin construction on the final section of the High Line so that it can open to the public. Creating new open spaces is necessary to make our neighborhood more livable for the growing number of families and local businesses. We are grateful to CSX for donating the High Line to the City, and we thank Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn for their leadership.”
The High Line is recognized as a significant contributor in the revitalization of Manhattan’s West Side, and has become a defining feature in its neighborhood and a powerful catalyst for private investment. The City rezoned the area around the High Line in 2005, and the combination of the rezoning and the park has helped lead to $2 billion in private investment, 12,000 jobs, 2,558 new residential units, 1,000 hotel rooms, more than 423,000 square feet of new office space and 85,000 square feet of new art gallery space. Since the first section opened in June of 2009, the public park has welcomed more than eight million people, comprised of nearly equal proportions of New Yorkers and out-of-town visitors, making it one of the most highly visited public parks in the city.
Under a license agreement with the City of New York, Friends of the High Line raises funding from private sources to support more than 90 percent of the public park’s annual budget for staffing and day-to-day maintenance and operations, as well as public programming and outreach to cultivate a community around the park.