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High Line Park To Transform West Side's Railway By Year's End

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An old elevated rail line on Manhattan's West Side may become a park by the end of the year. NY1’s Roger Clark filed the following report.

A 1.5-mile elevated railway on Manhattan’s West Side that was in danger of being demolished is now being transformed into a 22-block-long park.

Phase one of the project, stretching from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street, is under construction and expected to be open to the public by the end of the year.

"I'm constantly having to pinch myself that this is actually being built," said Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line, a group that is dedicated to preserving the 1930s-era railway.

"You will be able to enjoy this garden in the sky, which is just unparalleled in the whole world," said Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden.

Friends of the High Line recently unveiled renderings for phase two of the project, which will run from West 20th to West 30th Streets. Construction is expected to begin this fall, with completion by the end of 2009.

Narrower and straighter than the first section, the second phase will include thickets, lawns, meadows, seating areas, and a grove called the “Woodland Flyover.”

"We're replanting a grove of sumac trees we're growing naturally between 25th and 26th Street, and you are going to leave the surface of the High Line on metal grading and walk eight feet above the surface through a canopy of trees," said Hammond.

One of the designers of the High Line says it will be a place for pausing, strolling, sitting and enabling an urban escape.

"It's about duration. It's about a garden that will go deep into the soul of the inhabitants of the city and the visitors and will be a long-lasting, much loved party of the fabric of Manhattan," said field operations director James Corner.

Phase three of the highline, stretching between West 30th to 34th Streets, still needs to developed in concert with future plans for the West Side Rail Yards.

The final price tag for the High Line is $170 million, with $120 million of that coming from public funding and the rest from private fund raising and developer contributions.

- Roger Clark
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