City officials will cut the ribbon on the highly-anticipated High Line project, which is set to open to the public this week. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
It's been a long time coming, but the dream of turning a derelict elevated track bed into a park has finally become reality for Friends of the High Line founders Josh David and Robert Hammond.
NY1 caught up with them a few weeks back strolling high above 10th Avenue, and clearly proud of their accomplishment.
"I think the High Line is an escape. It's an interesting phenomenon," said Hammond. "You're only about three stories off the ground, but you feel like you're seeing New York in a different way. You're seeing the Hudson River, you're seeing these landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, but you're also seeing into buildings, and you're standing on this green, wild landscape."
David and Hammond founded the not-for-profit, Friends of the High Line, over 10 years ago as a way to fight the destruction of a rail line who's time on the light industrial West Side of Manhattan had come to an end. With the support of city, state and federal officials, funds and familiar faces, they were not only able to save the line, but come up with a blue print for its future.
"I don't think I could have ever imagined this day with it opening, built, following a design that's the most amazing design that really fulfills everything we hoped it would be and come together in such a short time," said David.
The groundbreaking took place in April of 2006 and now the first phase of the project, running a half mile from Gansevoort Street to 18th Street has been completed with a price tag of $86.2 million. It's expected that next year the line between 20th and 30th Street will open and eventually, the northern portion, which brackets the West Side rail yards, between 30th and 34th Streets will be claimed by the city, hopefully sparing it from any future development on the site.
In the meantime, the general public will have limited access to the latest city park starting Tuesday, under the watchful eye of Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benepe, whose staff will be in charge of regulating its use. He believes the open space and unique views will be a winning combination.
"It'll be overnight, one of the most romantic spots in the city. We expect to see a lot of proposals being made here. This park is like a horizontal Chrysler building. It's just and instantaneous architectural masterpiece," said Benepe.