The High Line Spur, the final section of the elevated park, opens

The Spur, which hovers over Tenth Avenue, is 10 years in the making

Schenck_High_Line_Spur_2019_05_31_DSC_0244.0 The High Line Spur, the final section of the elevated park, opens
Timothy Schenck

Almost 10 years to the day after the first section of the High Line debuted, one of the massively popular park’s final pieces is ready for its close-up.

The High Line Spur—which runs above 30th Street and culminates in a large open space that hovers above Tenth Avenue—has finally opened to the public, seven years after the Friends of the High Line, the nonprofit that oversees the park, first revealed designs for it. The Spur also includes a section known as the High Line Plinth, which will feature large-scale art installations; the first one, Simone Leigh’s Brick House, will be on display for the next 18 months.

Getting to this point wasn’t exactly easy for the Friends of the High Line; in fact, there was a time when the Spur was in danger of being torn down. In 2008, faced with the prospect of demolition to make way for Hudson Yards, the Friends launched a “Save Our Spur” campaign in the hopes of keeping the section of elevated railway from being razed. After rallies—and gaining the support of both elected officials and developer Related Companies, which is behind the adjacent megaproject—the Spur was saved.

Schenck_High_Line_Spur_2019_05_31_DSC_0228 The High Line Spur, the final section of the elevated park, opens

“The ability to save this section was really predicated on being able to come up with a negotiation with the developer here,” says Adam Ganser, the vice president of planning and design for the High Line. That negotiation involved designing 10 Hudson Yards in such a way that part of the building cantilevers over the Spur, creating what Ganser calls a “cathedral-like” space on the part of the Spur that’s closest to the megaproject.

The Friends of the High Line came up with more than two dozen designs for the Spur, but eventually landed on one that Ganser describes as “less is more.”

“The ingredients of the High Line are pretty successful,” he explains. “It’s trying to take the same ingredients and amplifying them in ways that make it feel different but also make it feel familiar.” That means incorporating pieces of the old railway into the path, planting the expanse with native wildflowers and other flora, and creating spaces for people to sit, play, and relax. The materials used for this section include Cor-Ten steel and aluminum, helping it to retain the industrial feel of the rest of the park.

But the Spur is different from other parts of the High Line in some crucial ways—namely, size. The pathway of the Spur is larger than other sections of the linear park, and it ends in a wide open space that’s anchored by the Plinth and its monumental sculpture.

Schenck_High_Line_Spur_2019_05_31_DSC_0125comp The High Line Spur, the final section of the elevated park, opens

That space is especially important given the popularity of the High Line, which can lead to crowds—particularly on nice weekends—that make it hard to traverse the park’s narrower paths further south.

“When we first opened the park and the city was first talking about saving this, the west side was a totally different place—the idea that we’d have 500,000 to 1 million people was a stretch,” Ganser says. Fast forward a decade, and the High Line is now getting more than 7 million visitors each year. With the Spur—which has ample seating, space for events, and even new bathrooms—there may be more breathing room on the High Line.

“My hope is that this space, in addition to being a place that people want to come, will also be a way for people to get off of the High Line,” Ganser explains.

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