Save the Spur Video and Rally Recap!

The turn-out of High Line supporters for Monday’s Eastern Rail Yards Public Forum was great: more than 200 people rallied at Midtown’s Red Cross in favor of preserving the entire High Line, including the Spur over 10th Avenue. Supporters wore red “Save the Spur” T-shirts and held signs during a presentation by The Related Companies, the designated developer at the rail yards.

The Spur, a portion of the High Line that crosses 10th Avenue at 30th Street, is still clearly under threat of demolition. Almost every speaker voiced strong support for preserving the entire High Line at the rail yards, including elected leaders US Representative Jerrold Nadler and New York State Assemblymember Dick Gottfried. Related gave no concrete answer as to why the spur would need to be torn down, only that the spur is “large and dark.”

On a promising note, the building on the Western Rail Yards that was previously shown blocking the High Line’s western views was not in the plans shown on Monday night.

With your help, we will continue to put pressure on the developer, the City, the MTA, and Governor Paterson. Please stay tuned to our E-mail Newsletter for updates on what you can do to help us Save the Spur.

Thanks to everyone who came out on Monday night to show that the Spur, like the rest of the historic High Line structure, must be preserved and integrated into the rail yards development.

High Line Horticulture Walk: Only a Few Spots Left

It’s not too late to join us and Alex Feleppa, director of horticulture for the Horticultural Society of New York, for a naturalist walk on the rail yards section of the High Line. The walks are this Saturday, June 7 (there are three sessions.)

We’re not usually able to bring people up to the High Line, so this is a rare chance to see it in its natural state.

Space is extremely limited and there are only a few slots left. Once they are full, you will be able to add yourself to the wait list, and we’ll contact you if there’s a cancellation.

The cost is $10 for members and $20 for non-members. Of course, you can always become a member to get early notice and discounts on programs like this in the future.

Buy Tickets Here

 

Related is Selected as Rail Yards Developer

Another big Rail Yards announcement this morning: the Related Companies have stepped in where Tishman Speyer dropped out earlier this month.

Related’s original proposal included the preservation of the entire High Line, including the spur over Tenth Avenue and the entire 30th Street section, which might have been demolished in Tishman Speyer’s plan. Though we haven’t seen the terms of their current agreement with the MTA, we hope they’ll stick with full preservation, fulfilling the first, and most important, of our principles for the High Line at the Rail Yards.

Developer in Deal With MTA to Develop West Side Railyards [City Room]

Related Cos. wins Hudson Yards Deal [Crain's]

Related, MTA Said to Reach Deal for Rail Yards [Observer]

It’s Official: MTA/Tishman Speyer Talks are Dead

After a last-ditch effort to get their West Side Rail Yards negotiations back on track after Thursday’s announcement, Tishman Speyer was unable to sway the MTA.

The MTA’s statement today was short and sweet. In its entirety:

The MTA met today with Tishman Speyer. Despite the best efforts of both sides, a final agreement could not be reached. The MTA has now re-entered discussions with other interested developers and remains committed to timely development of these unique and valuable parcels of land on Manhattan’s Far West Side.

It’s widely believed that the most likely developer right now is the partnership of the Durst Organization and Vornado Realty Trust.

Hudson Yards Talks Fail Yet Again [Crain's]

Breaking: Tishman Speyer Rail Yards Deal Falls Through

Negotiations between the MTA and Tishman Speyer have collapsed, according to the MTA, following a request from the developer to change the terms under which the project would be financed, as well as the project schedule. An agreement on the 26-acre site could not be reached.

Tishman Speyer was selected to develop the rail yards last month, after an eight-month bid process. Theirs was the high bid, at $1.004 billion, beating out the only other major contender, a joint partnership between Durst and Vornado.

Tishman Speyer was reportedly apprehensive about closing on the Eastern Rail Yards before the Western Rail Yards were rezoned, a process requiring public review and City approval on several levels. A rezoning is necessary for the developer to complete its massive high-density residential and commercial plan, and adds another variable to a project already troubled with the recent loss of an anchor tenant and an exceedingly complex financing plan.

A spokesman for Tishman Speyer insisted that the developer would continue to negotiate with the MTA to see if the differences could be worked out. A meeting is set for Monday, but the MTA is reportedly considering reopening negotiations with at least one of the four other developers who originally submitted bids.

Deal to Build at Railyards on West Side Collapses [NY Times]

MTA, Tishman Speyer Call off West Side Rail Yards Wedding [Observer]

Yardsmania: MTA Dumps Tishman Speyer, Chaos Ensues [Curbed]

I Sketched the High Line

… And so can you! There are still a few spots remaining for the remaining Sketching the High Line classes with artist Ann DeVere.

Last Saturday was the first class, and it was a really wonderful experience. Ann led us through a series of warm-up exercises to get our creative juices flowing, and then we sat for few longer sketches, observing and recording the unique viewpoint we had of the High Line and its surroundings.

Don’t miss this great opportunity!

There are spaces available for the following dates: May 10, May 17, and May 31; click here to sign up. All classes begin at 11 am and end at 12:30 pm. These classes are identical, so registration is only permitted for one class. Members receive a discount; click here for more information about becoming a member. More photos after the jump.

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Gangs of Hell’s Kitchen

The indispensable WPA Guide to New York City — a neighborhood-by-neighborhood survey from the the 1930’s Federal Writer’s Project — is one of my favorite sources of NYC nerdistry.

The chapter on Hell’s Kitchen reveals some of the colorful characters that once inhabited the area around the West Side rail yards- “a district that bears one of the most lurid reputations in America.”

It seems the New York Central Railroad– which built and operated the High Line– was largely responsible for taming the lawlessness of Hell’s Kitchen.

“Hell’s Kitchen acquired its reputation as one of the toughest areas in the city shortly after the Civil War. According to Herbert Asbury, who recorded many exploits of Hell’s Kitchen hoodlums in his book The Gangs of New York, the section deserved its notoriety. Its name, originally applied to a dive near Corlears Hook on the East Side, came from the Hell’s Kitchen Gang, organized in 1868 by Dutch Heinrichs. Although this gang specialized in raids on the Thirtieth Street yard of the Hudson River Railroad (now part of the New York Central), its repertoire included extortion, breaking-and-entering, professional mayhem, and highway robbery. It merged with the Tenth Avenue Gang, which had held up and robbed a Hudson River Railroad express train, and for decades terrorized the neighborhood. From its ranks rose the desperadoes who organized the Hudson Dusters and the Gophers.

“After the decline of the Hell’s Kitchen Gang, the Gophers achieved hegemony in the Hell’s Kitchen underworld. They made their headquarters in saloons such as one on “Battle Row” (Thirty-ninth Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues) operated by “Mallet” Murphy, who won his pseudonym by bludgeoning disputatious customers with a mallet. Leaders of the Gophers included “Happy Jack” Mulraney, “Goo Goo” Knox, “Stumpy” Malarkey, and “One Lung” Curran. Besides the Gophers, whose membership numbered nearly five hundred men, several smaller affiliated gangs such as the Gorillas, the Rhodes Gang, and the Parlor Mob waged consistant warfare against what was left of law and order in the neighborhood.

“Gangster rule of Hell’s Kitchen continued until 1910, when a special police force organized by the New York Central Railroad launched a counter-offensive. Clubbing, shooting, and arresting indiscriminately, they soon had most of the Gopher leadership in hospitals or behind bars and a majority of the lesser lights in flight. Remnants of the mobs functioned throughout the Prohibition era, but the backbone of Hell’s Kitchen gangsterdom had been effectively broken.”

 

Tiffany & Co. Employees Get the High Line Ready for Spring

Last week, a group of twenty Tiffany & Co. employees removed their jewelry and donned gardening gloves to clean up trash on the rail yards section of the High Line in anticipation of our High Line sketching classes which starts this weekend.  The employees are all part of TIffany ‘s TeamBuilders Manhattan, a group of staffers that get together for volunteer projects and social activities.  Departments from across the company were represented, including the corporate office and the Wall Street and Fifth Avenue retail stores.  The all-female crew broke up into three smaller groups and tackled different sections of the High Line between 30th-34th Street, filling nearly 25 bags with trash in just an hour and a half.  The bags were then removed by a Parks Department sanitation team.

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Photo of the Week: Summer Sunset

[Click to enlarge]

Summer is just around the corner, or so this 80-degree day would have us believe. Above, sunset at the rail yards, last summer. It’s hard to beat that golden light filtering through the smog over New Jersey.

Last Week’s Photo of the Week

Ouroussoff on Truth-Bending Rail Yards Renderings

Yesterday, New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussof used Tishman Speyer’s winning rail yards bid as an example of a problematic trend in urban development. He explains that misleading renderings are designed (or censored) to prevent public objection, so projects can slip easily through the public review process. Tishman Speyer, or course, is only one example of this, but when the MTA’s announcement was made, Ouroussoff noticed,

“Basic details like the surrounding context were left incomplete; there were no elevations to show what the project would look like from the street. The largest of the models on display was cut off at mid-elevation, making it virtually impossible to understand the towers’ colossal scale.”

Now You See It, Now You Don’t (NY Times)

Close Reading: The West Side Railyards Project (Interactive Graphic)

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