High Line opens third and final phase
New York, NEW YORK -- Phase three of the High Line opened Saturday, marking the completion of the elevated park’s northernmost phase. The final stretch reaches from 30th Street and 10th Avenue, toward the Hudson River, connecting Gansevoort Street to 34th Street. This recent development has extended the total length of the park to 1.45 miles. Unlike the southern parts of the High Line, phase three leads visitors along a path through self-seeding flowers, grasses and trees that have grown around the tracks of the railroad-turned-park. Visitors can enjoy an expansive view of the Hudson River to the west and the City to the east, as well as seating areas and an interactive play area for children.
This project connects three of Manhattan’s West Side neighborhoods--the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea and Hudson Yards--with the No. 7 subway station and the Javits Convention Center, signifying the last installment of the nation’s most unique urban metamorphosis.
A unique aspect of this project is that it is funded almost entirely by the private New York residents and organizations. Friends of the High Line, a nonprofit group partnering with the City’s Department of Parks & Recreation, is responsible for raising over 90 percent of the park's yearly operating expenses.
Friends of the Highline was formed by two neighborhood residents, Joshua David and Robert Hammond, in 1999 in order to conserve and reuse the space for public enjoyment. In 2004, after residents gained public support, the City pledged $50 million to build the park. The re-purposing of the old railway began in 2006, and by 2009, the first phase was complete. The second phase opened in 2011.
In the end, the project amounted to over $223 million in governmental and private funds. Now, the High Line attracts nearly five million people per year--a rare attraction loved by tourists and native New Yorkers alike.
Phase three includes a small collection of sculptures by Argentinian artist, Adrian Villar Rojas. The installation, entitled The Evolution of God, features what initially appear to be large square-cut rocks in the grass, are in fact a unique mixture of concrete and clay, designed to crumble between now and next summer.
Local resident, Anexora moved to the City from Washington D.C. two months ago. She brought several of her friends who are visiting from Nicaragua to witness the reveal of phase three.
“I think this is extraordinary," she said. "I absolutely love it. I think it is a feast to the eyes, offers a very nice close view of the river and is just the genius of all of the engineers and architects that designed this."
Though Anexora describes New York as a “beautiful city,” she laments the lack of green space and misses Washington D.C.’s sprawling parks. The High Line has helped her get her outdoor fix and grow more “accustomed to the concrete jungle.”
Not only is the High Line a free space for people to enjoy, but it has sparked real estate development in the neighborhoods surrounding the park, especially in Chelsea.
Some native New Yorkers, however, are against urban expansion, claiming that further construction saps the flow of money and that the incorporation of popular stores and big companies takes away the originality and homeyness of neighborhoods.
Michael, a construction worker from Brooklyn, told the EST why he is pro-expansion:
“I am always pro-expansion because that’s work for us [construction workers],” he said, emphasizing the economic benefit of construction projects around the City for consumers and producers alike. Though he is not working at this particular site, he came to the phase three opening “just to see what’s going on."
A similar project known as Hudson Yards will extend into Manhattan’s West Side. This 26-acre development will include housing, office space and dozens of stores. Buildings will be located on a platform above a storage yard for commuter trains traveling back and forth from Penn Station. This new formation will be level with the development site, unlike the rest of the High Line, which is typically elevated 30 feet above the street. Hudson Yards is set to open in 2016.
Phase three of the high Line is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.