File photo by Lincoln Anderson
On the W. 30th St. leg of the High Line several years ago, looking east toward the line’s 10th Ave. spur.
High Line’s last third is on track for city takeover
By Albert Amateau
The City Council has voted unanimously to approve the uniform land use review procedure, or ULURP, for the north end of the High Line that wraps around the West Side Rail Yards.
The Council action on July 29 leaves only Mayor Bloomberg’s approval for the city to begin to acquire the last segment of the elevated rail line — between 30th and 34th Sts. — to complete the 1.5-mile High Line park.
Members of Friends of the High Line — the grassroots organization that convinced Bloomberg in 2001 to convert the derelict railroad viaduct along 10th Ave. into an elevated city park — were jubilant.
Joshua David, a co-founder of the Friends, told the Council that the approval brought a step nearer the Friend’s vision of a public park, 30 feet above street level, from Gansevoort St. in the Meatpacking District around the rail yards to W. 34th St. across from the Javits Convention Center.
Salmaan Khan, a Friends staff member, said, “This vote is a major milestone toward the full preservation and transformation of the High Line at the rail yards into a continuous open space. Once approved by the mayor, it will allow the City of New York to move forward with the acquisition of the High Line above 30th St, including the 10th Avenue spur.”
The 10th Ave. spur of the old rail line extends east a half-block along 30th St. to 10th Ave., near where the line originally connected with the Morgan Annex Post Office when the New York Central Railroad built the line more than 70 years ago.
CSX, the railroad that inherited the line, transferred the southern two-thirds of the viaduct — from Gansevoort to 20th Sts. (the park’s segment one) and from 20th to 30th Sts. (segment two) — to the city for a token $1 per segment in 2003. But the last segment, which loops around the rail yards and includes the spur to the east, still belongs to CSX. The city has indicated that it would soon begin negotiations with CSX for the remaining segment. But as yet no funding or plans exist for this third part of the park.
The conversion of the Gansevoort-to-20th St. segment into a park was completed in spring 2009 and has already welcomed more than 2 million visitors. The conversion of the 20th St.-to-30th St. segment is underway and is expected to open in spring 2011.
Preservation of the remaining, northernmost segment required the agreement by the Bloomberg administration, the Metropolitan Transportation Administration — which owns the West Side Rail Yards from 24th to 30th Sts. from 10th to 12th Aves. — and The Related Companies, the designated developer of the rail yards. The approval of the West Chelsea and the Hudson Yards rezonings in 2005 paved the way for the preservation of the full High Line park.
David last week paid tribute to Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the mayor, the M.T.A. and The Related Companies for their vision, as he put it, “to save this historic structure and transform it into a great public space to be treasured by generations to come.”
Edward Kirkland, of the Community Board 4 Chelsea Preservation and Planning Committee, told the July 29 Council meeting that C.B. 4 unanimously endorsed the inclusion of the third segment of the High Line. The loop from 10th Ave. runs between 30th and 34th Sts. along the West Side Highway across from Hudson River Park, Kirkland noted. He said that the Hudson River Park Trust was discussing a proposed pedestrian bridge over the West Side Highway from the Hudson River Park walkway at 32nd St. to the High Line — connecting the two parks without the need of crossing a street.