Something new at the High Line

Photo: Shinya Suzuki, via flickr
New York’s favorite repurposed railway is bigger and better than ever
By EMily Mason

The High Line is opening the last stretch of its original expanse this spring with a new space, called The Spur. It marks the complete restoration of the original stretch of High Line from the 1930s, a project which the co-founders of the High Line, Joshua David and Robert Hammond, began back in 2003. The entrance to the Spur, at Tenth Ave and West 28th St., sits amid the epicenter of the Hudson Yards development,

The Friends of the High Line organization had some trouble securing this final section. The land the High Line is on was originally owned by the MTA and was used to park trains. The bid for the land included an option to either keep or destroy this section of High Line. But following a rigorous campaign to “Save the Spur,” the developer who purchased the land agreed that is could become the next focal point of the now-famous High Line park.

“A lot of people [originally] thought it was industrial and covered in weeds, an eyesore that needed to go,” Hammond said. “Joshua David and I fell in love with the weeds.”

In homage to the shrubbery that initially made David and Hammond dedicate themselves to the abandoned railway, green space is a key component of every section of the High Line, and the Spur will be no exception. The space will contain the most dense greenery of the High Line, in stark contrast to its commercial surroundings.

Preceding the archway that leads into the Spur space is a narrow walkway enclosed on one side by a screen of advertisements for the soon-to-be shopping mall towering over this section. Feet away is the site of the Shed, the arts center project, and ahead one can spot the cranes working the massive development that is Hudson Yards. Communications Director for the High Line, Melissa Parsoff, works on occasion with the surrounding projects. “We call this the crossroads because it’s where all of these different organizations meet,” Parsoff said.

The Spur is where visitors will find the High Line’s other newest attraction, the Plinth, where sculptures and art will be on display, changing every 18 months. The first piece to be featured is a sculpture called ‘Brick House’ by Simone Leigh. The High Line aims to include artwork from around the world, in part to ensure that everybody can find something to connect with on the High Line. “Just because it’s a public space doesn’t mean everybody feels welcome,” Hammond said. “We want to bring the best contemporary art and make it reflect [different] cultures and demographics.”