Synopses & Reviews
How two New Yorkers led the transformation of a derelict elevated railway into a grand—and beloved—open space
The High Line, a new park atop an ele-vated rail structure on Manhattans West Side, is among the most innovative urban reclamation projects in memory. The story of how it came to be is a remarkable one: two young citizens with no prior experience in planning and development collaborated with their neighbors, elected officials, artists, local business owners, and leaders of burgeoning movements in horticulture and landscape architecture to create a park celebrated worldwide as a model for creatively designed, socially vibrant, ecologically sound public space.
Joshua David and Robert Hammond met in 1999 at a community board meeting to consider the fate of the High Line. Built in the 1930s, it carried freight trains to the West Side when the area was defined by factories and warehouses. But when trains were replaced by truck transport, the High Line became obsolete. By centurys end it was a rusty, forbidding ruin. Plants grew between the tracks, giving it a wild and striking beauty.
David and Hammond loved the ruin and saw in it an opportunity to create a new way to experience their city. Over ten years, they did so. In this candid and inspiring book— lavishly illustrated—they tell how they relied on skill, luck, and good timing: a crucial court ruling, an inspiring design contest, the enthusiasm of Mayor Bloomberg, the concern for urban planning issues following 9/11. Now the High Line—a half-mile expanse of plants, paths, staircases, and framed vistas—runs through a transformed West Side and reminds us that extraordinary things are possible when creative people work together for the common good.
"Manhattan's High Line, a half-mile park located on an abandoned elevated rail line running along the city's West Side, is a remarkable example of urban planning. More amazing is the fact that the endeavor was shepherded by two citizens with zero experience in navigating the rabbit warrens of committees, permits, organizations, and city departments that would have to sign off on the planned renovation, not to mention finding funding. Here, project leaders David and Hammond (winners of the 2010 Jane Jacobs Medal) share their long, challenging experience in urban renewal. Written in alternating anecdotes, the duo trace their path from the neighborhood meeting that spurred them to action all the way through incorporation, legal hurdles, and celebrity endorsements thatÂ helped raise awarenessÂ and funds. While the duo's commitment and drive is certainly laudable, it's the material around their narrative that will interest readers most: a timeline of key dates in the High Line's history and over 180 photos of the evolution of the High Line from its state of disrepair to its vibrant present. Curious New Yorkers and armchair urban planners will find a number of takeaways in terms of logistics, planning, and managing a non-profit. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Joshua David and Robert Hammond cofounded Friends of the High Line in 1999. David has written for Gourmet, Fortune, Travel + Leisure, Wallpaper, and other magazines. Hammond was awarded a Rome Prize by the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2009. In 2010 they were awarded the Jane Jacobs Medal for their work on the High Line.