While plenty of tourists and New Yorkers alike love strolling down the High Line, one of its creators told City Lab that he think the project “failed” to improve the lives of the people living in the neighborhood.
“We were from the community. We wanted to do it for the neighborhood,” Robert Hammond, a co-creator of the park who is now the executive director of Friends of the High Line said. “Ultimately, we failed.”
The High Line is flanked by two major housing projects and nearly a third of Chelsea residents are people of color. Yet, a recent study found that most of the people who visit the elevated park are white and foreign (a conclusion that anyone’s who’s ever walked along the park knows well). According to Hammond, poorer people in the neighborhood stayed away from the High Line for three main reasons: they did not believe it was built for them; they didn’t see any body who looked like them on it; and they didn’t like the “mulch-heavy” programming in the park.
“Instead of asking what the design should look like, I wish we’d asked, ‘What can we do for you?’” Hammond says. “Because people have bigger problems than design.”
Hammond through the Friends of the High Line is trying to amend some of the mistakes they made, partnering with the two projects for programming and offering jobs to local teenagers. Hopefully, these efforts will help turn the park into a place where everyone — no matter what their background — will feel welcome. [CityLab]