I am in the midst of making plans to visit New York City this spring after having stumbled across The High Line Park website earlier today. Few things catch my interest as much as this incredible idea for a park built on an abandoned rail line elevated to pass over city streets full of traffic below. What a brilliant solution to a tough problem.
As the city takes the shape of the needs of the current residents, there are bound to be problems that arise. Instead of investing good money into tearing down the elevated rail, it was thought that this could be the site of a public park in a locale where real estate is a commodity few can afford, and where green space is scarce.
Here is a history of the High Line as it is posted on their website:
1847 The City of New York authorizes street-level railroad tracks down Manhattan’s West Side.
1851 – 1929 So many accidents occur between freight trains and street-level traffic that 10th Avenue becomes known as Death Avenue. For safety, men on horses, called the West Side Cowboys, ride in front of trains waving red flags.
1929 After years of public debate about the hazard, the City and State of New York and the New York Central Railroad agree on the West Side Improvement Project, which includes the High Line. The entire project is 13 miles long, eliminates 105 street-level railroad crossings, and adds 32 acres to Riverside Park. It costs over $150 million in 1930 dollars—more than $2 billion today.
1934 The High Line opens to trains. It runs from 34th Street to St. John’s Park Terminal, at Spring Street. It is designed to go through the center of blocks, rather than over the avenue, to avoid creating the negative conditions associated with elevated subways. It connects directly to factories and warehouses, allowing trains to roll right inside buildings. Milk, meat, produce, and raw and manufactured goods come and go without causing street-level traffic.
1950s Growth of interstate trucking leads to a drop in rail traffic, nationally and on the High Line.
1960s The southernmost section of the High Line is demolished.
1980 The last train runs on the High Line pulling three carloads of frozen turkeys.
Mid-1980s A group of property owners lobbies for demolition of the entire structure. Members of this group own land under the High Line that was purchased at prices reflecting the High Line's easement. Peter Obletz, a Chelsea resident, activist, and railroad enthusiast, challenges demolition efforts in court and tries to re-establish rail service on the Line.
1999 Friends of the High Line is founded by Joshua David and Robert Hammond, residents of the High Line neighborhood, to advocate for the High Line's preservation and reuse as public open space.
2001 - 2002 The Design Trust for Public Space provides a fellowship for architect Casey Jones to conduct research and outreach for "Reclaiming the High Line," a planning study jointly produced by the Design Trust and Friends of the High Line, which lays out planning framework for the High Line's preservation and reuse.
March 2002 Friends of the High Line gains first City support—a City Council resolution advocating for the High Line's reuse.
October 2002 A study done by Friends of the High Line finds that the High Line project is economically rational: New tax revenues created by the public space will be greater than the costs of construction.
December 2002 The City files with the federal Surface Transportation Board for railbanking, making it City policy to preserve and reuse the High Line.
January – July 2003 An open ideas competition, "Designing the High Line," solicits proposals for the High Line's reuse. 720 teams from 36 countries enter. Hundreds of design entries are displayed at Grand Central Terminal. (View Competition Entries)
July 2003 Friends of the High Line and the City jointly testify before the Surface Transportation Board in support of High Line reuse.
March – September 2004 Mayor Bloomberg announces City funding for the High Line. Friends of the High Line and the City of New York conduct a process to select a design team for the High Line. The selected team is James Corner Field Operations, a landscape architecture firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, an architecture firm, and experts in horticulture, engineering, security, maintenance, public art, and other disciplines. (View the High Line Design)
September 2004 The State of New York, CSX Transportation, Inc. (the railroad company), and the City of New York jointly file with the Surface Transportation Board to railbank the High Line.
April 2005 An exhibition showcasing the preliminary design by James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro opens at the Museum of Modern Art.
June 2005 The Surface Transportation Board issues a Certificate of Interim Trail Use for the High Line, authorizing the City and railroad to conclude railbanking negotiations.
November 2005 The City takes ownership of the High Line from CSX Transportation, Inc., (which donates the structure), and the City and CSX sign a Trail Use Agreement. Taken together, these two actions effectively preserve the High Line south of 30th Street.
April 2006 Groundbreaking is celebrated on the High Line with the lifting of a rail track. The first phase of construction on Section 1 of the High Line begins. Construction begins on Section 1 (Gansevoort Street to 20th Street). Tracks, ballast, and debris are removed, and the tracks are mapped, tagged, and stored (some will be reinstalled in the park landscape). This is followed sandblasting of steel, repairs to concrete and drainage systems, and installation of pigeon deterrents underneath the Line. (View Construction Photos)
2008 Landscape Construction begins on Section 1, with construction and installation of pathways, access points, seating, lighting, and planting.
June 2008 Final designs are released for the High Line's transformation to a public park. (View the Final Designs)
June 9, 2009 Section 1 (Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street) opens to the public.
June 8, 2011 Section 2 (West 20th Street to West 30th Street) opens to the public.
April 25, 2012 The New York City Planning Commission votes unanimously to approve a zoning text amendment that secures the eastern portion of the High Line at the Rail Yards, including the 10th Avenue Spur, as public open space.
July 25, 2012 The High Line at the Rail Yards is saved. The City of New York acquires the title to the third and final section of the High Line from CSX Transportation, Inc., which donated the final portion of the structure to the City.
September 20, 2012 Groundbreaking is celebrated on the High Line at the Rail Yards. Construction proceeds in three phases, with the first phase projected to open in 2014.
Spring 2014 Nick's first visit to The High Line. (Hopefully Mike will join me--I haven't asked him yet!)
I really can't wait to visit. Spring can't come soon enough! The main images above and below this entry link to The High Line Organization website. All the information you need can be found there.
This is a difficult subject for me because the pursuit of knowledge and eventual (possible) wisdom, at least in the scientific world, contradicts faith in mystical, spiritual things. I am constantly undercutting my faith and spirituality by saying I believe in all the laws of science and reason. There's nothing scientific or reasonable about pearly gates, an omnipotent being who lives in the sky, angels playing harps, or a fiery pit called hell that's home to a red man called the devil.
So, when my mom passed away in January of 2008, where did she go? Did her energy burn out like a pilot light that loses its source of fuel? Or did her spirit float up to Heaven, stop to check in with Saint Peter at the gates, and proceed to meet God while angels heralded her arrival? The bottom line is I don't want to think the person I love most in the world met a terrifying demise consisting of blackness, emptiness, and loneliness. The latter option called Heaven is much more comforting. When I suffered such great loss, I wanted to be comforted like a child, and told stories of happiness and positivity. While I do think the version of Heaven I just talked about is a fairy tale designed to be told for consolation, I've settled on a nice balance between the two theories of eternal light and eternal darkness: an enlightened spiritual afterlife.
If you think about it, there's got to be a reason for this very visceral, sinewy life. Everyone, no matter how intelligent and privileged, experiences some form of great pain and suffering at least once. Some experience more than most. I believe the reason for this is to prepare us for something better later, and if we're let in on the secret, it will just blow our minds and ruin the plan entirely. Who is the master of this plan? I believe it to be God.
I use the term God loosely because I believe there is a force that is all-knowing and all-powerful, but even though the word "omnipotent" exists, there's no way we could possibly know what that entails or what it looks like in action. What does something look like when it creates, knows, watches, and orchestrates everything that exists in the known universe? There's no way to know, so faith is required to be humble enough to get through this gritty, dirty, and often mundane life. To think that we are the be-all end-all is just ridiculous. While I am a proponent of reason and logic, I believe they are faculties gifted to us by our creator. I don't think that we are equipped to understand or explain the force that created the universe, the sun, the moon, Earth, and its inhabitants; nor do I believe we can begin to grasp how it is controlled.
No matter how skewed or evil some forces in the world may be, how relentless nature can be, everything returns to a semi-peaceful balance at some point--a stasis. The fact that we haven't annihilated our species and blown up the planet is a miracle, and proof that equilibrium exists. I don't think all this happens by chance, or if it does, chance is controlled by a greater force disguised to look like what we call "chance", leading us to believe that we have "free will."
What's the reason for believing? Just as I think it's excessive to believe in the gilded gates and harps of a kingdom in the clouds, I believe it's obtusely selfish, narrow minded, and down right depressing to believe that there's nothing beyond what we can see in this life. Since the beginning of recorded history, people have imagined fantastic things about Heaven, various gods, and afterlives with good reason. Why do we decorate and put up lights for holidays and festive occasions? Why do we celebrate anything? Because without these beliefs and celebrations, our imaginations would be starved, and our lives would be dark, cold, purposeless, and pointless.
I'm in a good mood today. If you want to read more of what I think about a bleak life under the supervision of an unforgiving God whose existence I question, catch me on a bad day.
Ugh, my brain hurts. I know that this is a controversial topic, and my views change regularly. They've centered on optimism lately, though, because I'd rather try to be happy than sad and depressed. I've traveled the path of a skeptic, and it's not pleasant. I turned around midway and took the path of faith instead. I just keep my hand on the railing in case. Please don't be offended by any of this. I'm just a nobody who thinks he has a decent opinion...but you know what they say about opinions.
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My name is Nicholas Emeigh, but everyone calls me Nick, and I prefer it. I'm usually called Nicholas when I'm in trouble. I'm from the Philadelphia area, work in business, and fancy myself as a freelance graphic designer, writer, and artist. I have a passion for art in all its forms including music, but I restrict my singing to the shower and the car for the good of society. If you'd like to know more, just send me an e-mail. I really appreciate you stopping by.