All Articles
All Articles

High Line: The Inside Story

The founders of NYC's park in the sky recount their ten-year journey with intimate detail

by Karen Day
on 17 October 2011
highline-story1.jpg highline-story2.jpg

The road to creating one of New York's most beloved parks was not unlike the unruly terrain that High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky," chronicles the behind-the-scenes of the epic ten-year restoration project.

highline-story3.jpg highline-story4.jpg

The densely-detailed—though "not comprehensive"—account begins with an interview from David and Hammond, who remember their initial encounter with each other at a community board meeting and, subsequently, the seemingly-infinite number of challenges they came up against in trying to save the 70-year-old rail system. A journalist described the two as "a pair of nobodies," and, indeed, they had no prior experience in parks and recreation. Hammond admits, "I didn't understand the complexity of what we were getting into...we would need to become versed in urban planning, architecture, and City politics, raise millions of dollars, and give years of our lives to the High Line."

The raised tracks once carried a cargo train known as the Lifeline of New York, which delivered food to the refrigerated warehouses of the West Side until its last run in 1980. In the years that followed, many ideas were put forth on how to use the abandoned space, with several attempts made to offset the demolition proposed by many politicians. David and Hammond formed Friends of the High Line in 1999, but, for a decade, struggled against naysaying opposition groups like High Line Reality, numerous development problems and the economic crash in 2008. In overcoming it all, David and Hammond have created a park that stands for so much more than a respite from the urban jungle.

highline-story6.jpg highline-story7.jpg

Today, the High Line is home to more than 200 species of grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and trees, hosts more than 300 public programs each year, from stargazing sessions to yoga classes, provides a setting for site-specific art installations and receives at times 100,000 visitors in a single weekend.


With the forthcoming relocation of the Whitney Museum to the park's southern terminus and the adjacent Hudson Yards development on the horizon, the High Line spans an important area of NYC's rapidly evolving urban environment. "High Line" is a thorough and enlightening read for any city resident, park enthusiast or person seeking a little inspiration. "I hope the High Line will encourage people to pursue all sorts of crazy projects, even if they seem, as the High Line once did, the most unlikely of dreams," says Hammond in the book.

Copies of the 256-page "High Line" book sell from Amazon and Macmillan.

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue
Loading More...