September 22, 2014; Cherry Hill Courier-Post
The wait is finally over for New Yorkers and tourists eager to explore the entirety of the 22-block elevated walkway park, known as the High Line at the Rail Yards, along Manhattan’s West Side. It has taken 15 years and, according to the Courier-Post, it cost $223 million in public and private money to build. The completion of the High Line at the Rail Yards has been greeted with celebration, consternation, and criticism.
The celebration came on Saturday, September 20th, with the official opening of High Line Park. The Friends of the High Line led the celebration, which included a procession of community members, volunteers, and business owners who walked the full length of the park carrying banners and ribbons. Friends of the High Line, a 501(c)3 that includes such celebrities as actor Edward Norton, has been the driving force behind the redevelopment of the abandoned elevated freight railway into “one of the nation’s most distinctive urban transformations.” They were joined by New York city, state, and federal officials at the opening event.
The consternation was focused on one of the possible attendees at the High Line’s opening event, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. As reported by the NPQ Newswire in October 2013, de Blasio has been seen as a threat to private conservancies, such as the Friends of the High Line, for his support of a plan to redistribute some of their wealth to neglected public city parks and spaces. New York Post columnist Steve Cuozzo wondered last week whether Mayor de Blasio would even show up for Saturday’s dedication. Cuozzo seemed to throw down the gauntlet to the mayor, in whom he has little confidence, when he wrote: “Let’s see if he shows his face at the park dedication with its implicit, but unmistakable challenge: Match this!” Mayor de Blasio did show up and, with an apparent shout-out to his predecessor Michael Bloomberg’s administration (which may have surprised Cuozzo) praised the High Line, saying, “The High Line is a true testament to our city’s embrace of innovative and pioneering urban planning.”
The criticism has