Volume 76, Number 22 | October 18 - 24, 2006

Villager photo by Lawrence Lerner

A sign for the audio tour near Gansevoort St. by the elevated railway, which is being converted into a park.

High Line phone audio tour connects with park’s fans

By Lawrence Lerner

At the southern end of the High Line railway viaduct, on the corner of Washington and Gansevoort Sts., construction workers in orange hardhats, fluorescent vests and work boots scurry to and fro above one of the last remains of the old Meatpacking District, a strip of loading docks where men in white coats speaking foreign tongues shuffle boxes of meat on and off the platforms.

Amid the hustle and bustle and construction debris is a tiny bright-green rectangular sign sitting high up on the beige stucco exterior of 820 Washington St., where a deserted meat plant is now home to the laborers working on the High Line. Hung just a few feet away from a large black debris chute swooping down the side of the building into a dumpster from the rail line above, the little sign unceremoniously kicks off what some are calling a cultural experience not to be missed: a High Line cell-phone audio tour stretching more than 15 blocks, through three neighborhoods along the West Side of Manhattan.

Sponsored by Friends of the High Line, the nonprofit organization founded in 1999 to transform the rail viaduct into an elevated park, the cell-phone tour consists of stops at 14th, 15th, 17th, 22nd, 25th, 26th and 30th Sts. — along both Washington St. and Tenth Ave. — where phone numbers on the bright-green signs beckon passersby to call and hear messages by project architects and celebrity Friends of the High Line, including Glenn Close, Kevin Bacon and Diane von Furstenberg.

“We’re looking at all the different ways we can involve all sorts of people in the High Line,” said Joshua David, FOHL co-founder. “We’re trying to keep people engaged in the park even though it’s not opening for two years.”

Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio is one of those people. The talent behind the restaurant Craft and its spinoffs, including Craft Steak, located along the High Line on Tenth Ave. and 15th St., Colicchio is a longtime supporter of FOHL and the audio-tour voice at the tour’s Chelsea Market stop.

“I thought it was a great idea. I’d never seen it done before, a tour that you can do on your own with your cell phone to get info on buildings and what’s going on with the project,” said Colicchio, who offers a history of the building housing Craft Steak in his tour segment.

“This city is so rich in history. It’s great to be a part of the ground floor of this,” he said. “I’ll look back on it in 50 years and say, ‘Wow, I remember being a part of this. How cool was that.’ ”

The High Line tour runs through Oct. 31.

A map and details of the Friends of the High Line cell-phone tour are available at www.thehighline.org.

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