The High Line we know today — the beautiful “park in the sky — had its beginnings in a community board meeting that took place back in 1999. It was a classically hot, humid August evening in New York and for some reason Joshua David and Robert Hammond both decided that rather than hang out at the beach with a nice cold beer they would attend a meeting about the rusty old elevated railroad that ran up Tenth Avenue. And because they did, and because they met each other at that meeting, we have the High Line.
After I read David & Hammond’s new book High Line, which recounts the long, complex, but always-colorful fight their group Friends of the High Line engaged to save the old trestle, I began to feel that eery sensation you get when you understand that one tiny, seemingly insignificant decision had an invaluable consequence. Tomorrow evening we all have the opportunity to attend a community board meeting about the future of the High Line, and I wouldn’t miss it for anything, even tickets to “The Book of Mormon.”
Hammond will give an update on the still-undeveloped section of the High Line that runs between 30th and 34th Streets, around a working rail yard. (This yard serves as a parking lot for commuter trains that come from New Jersey to Penn Station every day, and is where they cool their jets as the workers are toiling away in Gotham. At the end of the day commuters hop on the train to return home.) As this section heads west it majestically presents the Hudson River and it’s one of the most breathtaking, inspiring views the High Line has to offer.
Friends of the High Line is hosting this meeting to begin the process of gathering feedback from the community as the group moves forward with the design process of the third and final section of the park. Members of the design team of James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro will be attending, and the community is invited to ask questions.
I wish I could say I had been present at the creation; that on that hot August day I too had schlepped down to Penn South, a coop on Ninth Avenue for moderate-income residents sponsored in the 1950s by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. But tomorrow brings another chance to play a role in this important project. Even if you’re tired and over-stimulated, go for the photos alone; I saw many of them at a talk Hammond gave in October and they’re gorgeous.
Here are the details:
High Line at the Rail Yards Community Input Meeting
Tuesday, December 6
6:30 – 8:00 PM
Public School 11 Auditorium
320 West 21st Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues
You can watch a short video here.