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Massive Koons Train Sculpture Could Float Above the High Line

By Mathew Katz | March 27, 2012 1:15pm
Koons' "Train" would dangle a full-size replica of a 1943 Baldwin 2900 steam locomotive over the High Line.
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James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Jeff Koons. Courtesy Friends of the High Line.

CHELSEA — Great Scott!

Like something out of "Back to the Future," Manhattanites could soon get their own floating train — directly above the new section of the High Line.

Conceived by artist Jeff Koons, the installation would give a nod to the High Line's railroad heritage by dangling a full-size replica of a 1943 Baldwin 2900 steam locomotive from a crane over the elevated park.

The Friends of the High Line said they are still studying the feasibility of the roughly $25 million art installation, which Koons is simply calling "Train." Koons' proposal would put the steam engine over the so-called "spur," the portion of the undeveloped third section of the railway that crosses 10th Avenue at West 30th Street.

The organization said that the number of gawking visitors that the massive floating train would draw to the neighborhood's local businesses would far outweigh the project's cost.

"Jeff Koons’ 'Train' is part of a long history of big ideas for the High Line, but even if never realized, it embodies our commitment to innovation, creativity, and finding new ways to experience the city," said Robert Hammond, Co-Founder of Friends of the High Line, whose group itself overcame many hurdles to get the elevated park built — the first two sections of which cost $152 million. 

"'Train' has the potential to serve as a potent symbol of the area’s industrial past," Hammond added.

"Train" was originally considered by the High Line's design team in 2005 as an installation over a plaza at West 18th Street and 10th Avenue, but was deemed too large to work with at the time.

The idea was then picked up by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which is working on bringing the sculpture to its expanded complex.

"The power and the dynamic of 'Train' represents the ephemeral energy that runs through the city every day," Jeff Koons said in a statement.

Friends of the High Line said that LACMA officials have indicated their support for installing the sculpture at the High Line regardless of whether it's built in Los Angeles.

The Friends group is also in the midst of a fundraising campaign for the $90 million renovation of the High Line's third section.