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High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky Paperback – October 11, 2011

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High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky + Joel Sternfeld: Walking the High Line + On the High Line: Exploring America's Most Original Urban Park (Revised Edition)
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Editorial Reviews


“This lushly illustrated volume showcases the range of imaginative designs [Joshua David and Robert Hammond] explored and, in some cases, rejected. In recounting their decade-long experiment, they provide an inspiring primer for grass-roots urban planning.” —Sam Roberts, The New York Times

“This account by the founders of the nonprofit responsible for the groundbreaking reclamation project chronicles the struggles and successes that led to the realization of what was deemed a far-fetched dream—and resulted in a new Manhattan landmark.” —Travel + Leisure

“A fascinating first-person tale.” —The New York Observer

“The High Line is not only a great work of design—surely the most important addition to the public realm of New York in this century; it is also a great saga. In this book Robert Hammond and Joshua David, who led the grass-roots movement to rescue the High Line from demolition, tell with energy, passion, and refreshing candor the story of how this industrial artifact became, against all odds, a magnificent park.” —Paul Goldberger

“This book is the record of a bright and in fact heroic part of New York City’s history. The story of the struggle, against very long odds, by two young men to create the High Line is a story of perseverance, determination and courage, and the photographs which accompany it show the brilliance of their achievement.” —Robert A. Caro

“This is a fundamentally uplifting story of two young men with a dream who scythed through red tape and skepticism, summoning a village to help reimagine what a park could be in the twenty-first century. Thanks to their vision, and to the dedication, enthusiasm, and brilliance of their collaborators, a walk in the park has been transformed into an exhilarating urban experience that helps all of us to see our extraordinary city with new eyes.” —Anna Wintour

“If God is in the details, then few projects can be more divine than the High Line. Christo, the man who wraps bridges and the Reichstag, once said that for him the creative part of his work is not the finished product but the seemingly frustrating process of getting all those permits and raising funds and convincing ecologists and city planners. This careful account of how the High Line came to exist despite all the odds proves just how creative and suspenseful realizing a plan can be; it’s a real cliff-hanger.” —Edmund White

“The story of the High Line is one of the great encouraging improbable stories of New York life in the past few decades. This book should read by anyone who cares about New York, or green and urban life.” —Adam Gopnik

“There is no more miraculous and important and gratifying piece of new American urban design than the High Line. What’s more, how it was conjured into existence is a compelling story, and here’s that story—with pictures!—told lucidly and charmingly by the two extraordinary ordinary guys who pulled it off.” —Kurt Andersen

About the Author

Joshua David and Robert Hammond cofounded Friends of the High Line in 1999. David has written for Gourmet, Fortune, Travel + Leisure, Wallpaper, and other magazines. Hammond was awarded a Rome Prize by the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2009. In 2010 they were awarded the Jane Jacobs Medal for their work on the High Line.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: FSG Originals; First Edition edition (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374532990
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374532994
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By High Line Fan on October 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I considered myself to be in-the-know on the history and creation of The High Line, after 13 years of living in Manhattan and reading endless press in Time Out NY, New York Mag and The NY'er. Now that I've finished reading "The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky", I realize how little of this remarkable story I actually knew. We are so often promised "behind the scenes" glimpses into famous people and pop-culture storylines yet are left disappointed by lackluster revelations and glossier-than-actual trips down memory lane. I found this book to be a brutally honest tale of two regular guys who lacked experience, resources and time yet somehow managed to keep their partnership and dream alive in spite of repeated challenges, fights and, what seems like, an entire city of naysayers.
In addition to sharing a great story in candid, often hilarious voices, the photos in the back half of the book are worth the $19 price tag alone. I suspect the next time I walk along The High Line, I'll recognize it even more as the greatest gift to New Yorkers, and all Americans, since the Statue of Liberty.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By michelle on November 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is a compulsively readable and surprisingly (at times shockingly) honest account from the two guys, Joshua David and Robert Hammond, who took on the High Line project and saw it through over the last 12 years. It begins with the chance meeting of the project's co-founders in 1999, and is written in their own voices as they give a loosely chronological account of the project up to the opening of the first section of the park in 2009.

Along the way, the book gives a truly "insider" perspective with plenty of juicy details. What did Edward Norton think of the High Line when he lived in the neighborhood? Who do you have talk to to get in front of designer Diane von Furstenberg? What does a property owner who traded swords with Arnold Schwarzenegger have to do with the High Line? How did Friends of the High Line almost lose a staff member over an Aeron chair? And why did Jean-Claude (of Christo and Jean-Claude, the famous artists) scold Robert over his formatting of a letter? All these questions (and many, many more) are answered in this "who's who" of New York activists, officials, architects, powerful figures, and neighborhood characters.

This book is a must-read for anyone who is interested in the High Line, but also anyone who's interested in New York, urban planning, architecture, or the way cities change over time. Even people who know "everything" about the High Line will be surprised by some of the revelations! I could also see this being an essential road map for people who have "big ideas," as it explains all the steps that Robert Hammond and Josh David took to make the High Line "dream" into a reality.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Annik La Farge on November 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
There are as many reasons to admire this book as there are entries to the High Line. So I'll give you nine.

1. It's inspirational: a true David and Goliath story, set in post 9/11 New York City, featuring two guys who admit quite charmingly in these pages that they had no idea what they were doing. And they won.

2. It's spot-on, Zeitgeist-wise: if you're even remotely interested in the movement of urban landscape design that is sweeping major cities around the world, David & Hammond have just given you the playbook. This book tells the full story of how these two young men, with lots of help from a wide variety of people and over a ten year period, navigated the neighborhood, city, state, corporate, and Federal politics to create this park.

3. If you love New York...: this a book that will help you understand how and why it works as well as it does under the leadership of Mayor Bloomberg.

4. It has that magical element that non-fiction readers love: voice. These two guys, in alternating paragraphs, each come across as distinct personalities and as they tell their story we come to know them as individuals. There are other key characters who come alive, including Gifford Miller and the extraordinary Amanda Burden, a woman who has done something I will always be grateful for: she has made New York a better city.

5. It's unsparingly honest. Serious readers know when they're being jollied along, and these guys give us everything, warts and all: their disagreements and crises of faith and plenty of unpretty moments, like a hangover that could have derailed an important meeting.

6. Marvelous, excruciating detail. Example: Hammond provides the color swatch for the Sherwin-Williams paint color of the High Line's railings: SW6994.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By DOPPLEGANGER on October 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
The two guys, Joshua David and Robert Hammond, who conceived, and drove through against all odds the creation of the wondrous 'urban park on stilts' on the west side of Manhattan, were described by a journalist writing about the High Line's unlikely success as "A pair of nobodies who undertook an impossible mission." In their book they readily admit this was true and that they knew next to nothing about preservation, architecture, community organizing, horticulture, fundraising, working with City Hall, or running a park.

This lack of expertise in these areas was the key to the High Line's phenomenal success as it forced them to bring in other people to help them, and bring the dream into reality.

The book gives a potted Time Line from 1847 to 1999 (when Messrs David and Hammond started their quest), charting the history of street level and elevated train tracks in NYC. The authors then give a detailed but highly interesting account of the struggle to overcome all of the many obstacles, frustrations and challenges to a successful conclusion. They freely admit that they had an enormous amount of help from many people and organisations without which there would probably be no High Line today, but it is also self-evident that they were the most important reason for the projects triumphant outcome. The latter part of the book is taken over with many great photographs showing the before, during conversion works, and after of this unique green city leisure space.

In a short time, if not already, the most famous attractions in NYC will be Central Park, Times Square, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Ground Zero Memorial, The Empire State Building and The High Line.
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High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky
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