All aboard! High Line section two wows with lawn, butterflies


By Albert Amateau

A ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Bloomberg, Friends of the High Line and an A-list of benefactors opened the second section of the High Line park on Tuesday morning.

The new section, between 20th and 30th Sts., doubles the length of the elevated park, whose first section between Gansevoort and 20th Sts. opened in 2009.

After two years, the first section has had an estimated 4 million visitors, said the mayor, who also noted the economic boon of an estimated 4 million square feet of new and planned hotel and residential development between Gansevoort and 30th Sts. near the High Line right of way.

Bloomberg said he was looking forward to the eventual development of the third section of the elevated park on the viaduct that loops around the Hudson Rail Yards from 30th to 34th Sts. between 10th Ave. and the West Side Highway.

Although that section of the High Line still belongs to CSX, the railroad company that donated the viaduct’s lower part to the city, Bloomberg was confident that it would eventually become part of the park.

Indeed, he announced a $5 million grant from the Tiffany Foundation for the third section and a $5 million matching donation for the third section from Donald Pels and Wendy Keys, who made earlier donations to the park.

If it materializes, the third section would surround the office and residential development that The Related Companies is proposing for a platform over the M.T.A. rail yard.

Tuesday’s opening ceremony took place on the block-long green lawn on the High Line at 23rd St., where eight young men from the Brooklyn Tech step team gave an energetic performance on a stepped, wooden seating area.

Congressmember Jerry Nadler recalled his efforts in 1980 to save the High Line.

“We thought it might be used for mass transit. We never imagined a park,” said Nadler, who honored Joshua David and Robert Hammond, founders of Friends of the High Line, who conceived of the park use.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who lives on 23rd St. a block east of the High Line, paid tribute to the efforts of Community Boards 2 and 4 to make the park a reality. She said the High Line partially makes up for the lack of parks in the two West Side districts. She also acknowledged Gifford Miller, her predecessor as Council speaker, as an early supporter of the park.

Borough President Scott Stringer said “the park in the sky” was a great addition to Manhattan’s green space.

City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe were also among the speakers.

A grated, steel platform at 30th St. allows visitors to peer down to the street through a cutout that reveals the viaduct’s structural elements.

At 26th St., a rectangular, steel frame recalls the billboards that used to be on the High Line where the railroad crosses above a street. The frame allows parkgoers to be seen by people on the street as if they were on a billboard.

At a narrow point on 25th St., a grated, metal pathway ramps up 8 feet above the High Line’s main level and stretches for three blocks.

The lawn stretches from 22nd St., where a wooden, stepped seating area is located, to 23rd St., where the lawn ramps up slightly to give visitors a crosstown view of both the Hudson and East rivers. At 21st St. the park features bird and butterfly feeders on either side of the path.