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High Line Founders Want to Help Cities With Copycat Projects

By Mathew Katz | June 5, 2012 1:41pm
A corridor of condos surrounding the High Line park.
A corridor of condos surrounding the High Line park.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

CHELSEA — It's time for a High Line for every city.

To help activists outside New York City turn their rusting urban infrastructure into blooming parks, the High Line's staff is hosting a series of talks on similar projects in other cities.

The series, called "Beyond the High Line," kicks off later this month.

The first few talks will take place at the High Line's 14th Street entrance and will focus on projects in Chicago and Detroit.

Discussions afterward will be hosted by Friends of the High Line co-founder Robert Hammond, who is famed in park-planning circles for his work in making the park a reality.

Along with Joshua David, Hammond founded Friends of the High Line in 1999 and spent years lobbying the city and others to transform an unused piece of elevated rail along the city's west side into one of New York's most popular parks. Since then, the pair have been consulted on all sorts of copycat projects.

"The High Line is just one of many examples of ways that communities are working together to transform old, industrial infrastructure into public space," said Hammond.

"We look forward to bringing some of the country’s most innovative thinkers to New York City, and giving them the High Line as their platform to present their big ideas and talk about the latest updates with their projects."

On June 18, Beth White, Chicago Director of the Trust for Public Land, and Ben Helphand, of Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, will make a presentation on their dreams for Chicago's own High Line — a three-mile elevated railway they hope to transform into Chicago's next great park.

The next talk, on July 23, will focus on Detroit. Faye Nelson of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and Phillip Cooley from Detroit's Roosevelt Park will give their own presentation on the push to turn the city's huge amount of vacant real estate and infrastructure into a series of parks.

The free talks are the first in a planned series that will continue in the fall with additional ones that will be announced later in the summer, though it's unclear what cities are next on the list.