In a breath of extremely fresh air, today the Friends of the High Line (FHL) released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) soliciting design teams for the master plan to convert the 1.5-mile elevated railroad on Manhattan's West Side into a public open space.
This announcement, made in conjunction with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, means that reclamation of the High Line is becoming a reality. Last year, FHL sponsored a design competition to generate ideas for the unused railroad's future, receiving over 700 entries from 36 countries.
Photo by J. Sternfield from FHL web site.
My interest in the High Line's future started when I visited Manhattan a few years ago and experienced the impact of the railway on Chelsea and other neighborhoods under the Line. To me its presence gives those places a distinct character that distinguishes them from other parts of Manhattan, while referring to its industrial past that is otherwise disappearing. Its use as a public promenade (or whatever the master plan eventually becomes) would provide a unique glimpse of these neighborhoods. Also I'm influenced by living in Chicago, where it is almost impossible to think of parts of the city without the elevated tracks, in use or not.
The deadline for the RFQ is April 1, 2004.