Updated 03/20/2009 01:22 PM
First Section Of High Line Set To Open In June
What was once an eyesore slated for demolition has not only been saved and revived but completely transformed. NY1's Stephanie Simon filed the following report on the first section of the High Line in Chelsea, which is set to open in June.
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What started as a pie-in-the-sky dream will soon be a park-in-the-sky reality.
Part of the High Line, the defunct West Side rail line, will open as an elevated green space in early June. The transformation of the old rails into the city's newest park has been spearheaded by the non-profit Friends of the High Line, which was founded in 1999.
"We're working really hard to get the park ready to open in the first week in June," says Friends of the High Line co-founder Joshua David. "Much of the planting is already in place. Bulbs are already beginning to come up. Some things have already been in bloom, things that bloom really early in the late-winter season have already flowered."
The first portion of the park runs from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street.
"It's going to be the most unique park in the world," says New York City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden. "It will eventually run for a mile and a half, a garden in the sky, a wild fantastic landscape. It will really be one of the most spectacular parks in the whole world."
Supporters say the park is also very connected to the Chelsea arts scene.
"When we started Friends of the High Line, people thought the idea of saving this old elevated rail structure was sort of nutty," David says. "But the people in the arts community were the first to say, 'yes, let's embrace this. It's a great idea.' So we've always wanted to make art a central part of what happens on the High Line and the way it connects to everything that's happening around us."
When the park opens, there will be a public art installation reflecting the views from the High Line.
"We'll also have an emerging artist program, bringing various younger artists up to High Line and around the High Line to do really innovative art projects."
The portion of the High Line from 20th to 30th Street is expected to open next year, with the city appearing confident the northern-most section, between 30th and 34th Street, will also be turned into park land.
"The third section, which is the section which runs from east-west to the river, which I call the High Line on the Hudson, will be our next challenge," Burden says. "But it's one of the culminating, most important features of the High Line."
Also still not determined, is whether or not there will be concession stands along the $170 million park.