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High Line Gets Record $20 Million Gift

By Jill Colvin | October 27, 2011 6:54am | Updated on October 27, 2011 12:08pm
Bare razor wire lines this unopened section of the High Line as seen during an Open House New York tour on Oct. 16, 2011.
Bare razor wire lines this unopened section of the High Line as seen during an Open House New York tour on Oct. 16, 2011.
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DNAinfo/Sonja Sharp

MANHATTAN — The final section of the High Line park is one giant step closer to becoming a reality after a record-breaking $20 million donation announced late Wednesday.

The gift, from media exec Barry Diller and his wife, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg’s Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation, marks the single largest donation to a city park ever and brings Friends of the High Line closer to its goal of completing a third and final section.

The green space has already transformed a derelict elevated train line into a thriving public space.

"In a hundred years, people will be amazed that this park was ever built, and during all that time it will have given pleasure to such great numbers of people," said Diller in a statement.

"I’m glad that our family is able to pay a small role in making the High Line a reality."

"On behalf of all New Yorkers, I would like to thank the Diller–von Furstenberg family for their vision and investment in our city’s future. The impact of their gift will be felt for decades,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in an announcement.

The gift, which was first reported by the New York Times, brings the total amount raised by the Friends of the High Line to $85 million, putting the non-profit conservancy more than half-way toward its $150 million endowment goal.

The money will be used to support the park's long-term operation as well as design and construct the final section of the park, which would run west to 12th Avenue and then continue north to 34th Street, a park spokeswoman said.

The park currently runs from Gansevoort Street to West 30th Street, where it abruptly comes to an end at a chain-link fence, through which visitors can see the remaining section of abandoned tracks, marked by tangles of bramble, rusted rails and pitted track beds.

That segment is owned by CSX Transportation, which is now in negotiations with the city to reach an an agreement that would open the space to the public, the spokeswoman confirmed.

“New York City’s parks have long benefited from the generous philanthropy of New Yorkers and this $20 million commitment is a stunning and unprecedented investment in our future,” Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said in a statement.

“With the help of contributions from all New Yorkers who donate their time, energy, and resources toward public parks, we will ensure that this city’s unparalleled public spaces will remain beautiful, clean, and green for generations to come,” he said.