New York announces High Line extension to Penn Station

12 January 2021

In his State of the State address on 11 January, New York governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the construction of a a 1,200ft elevated walkway connecting the western Manhattan High Line park with Moynihan Train Hall, a newly built shed at Penn Station.

The extension is expected to cost approximately $60m, and will be covered by a mix of public and private funds.

Since opening its first segment in 2006, the High Line has become a powerful symbol of successful urban regeneration, attracting millions of visitors annually. The carefully landscaped park is situated atop a disused elevated railway which used to serve the formerly industrial parts of western and lower Manhattan.

The park was designed by James Corner Field Operations, which served as the project lead, the architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and the landscape architect Piet Oudolf.

The Moynihan Train Hall opened on 1 January 2021, an extension to mid-Manhattan’s Pennsylvania Station, which serves Amtrak and Long Island Railroad lines. Cuomo sees the High Line extension as a much-needed additional approach to the station. “Traffic has reached impossible levels, and it’s never been efficient or effective,” he told the New York Times. “But it’s clear that if the metropolitan area is going to grow, mass transit has to be better, safer, more pleasant, especially in this new world.”

Critics have questioned the decision to spend big on infrastructure when the city is facing a deep post-pandemic crisis. The New York Times also points out the High Line, while a boon for the city in terms of tourist spending, “is little used by low-income residents and people of color.”

However, Cuomo believes that investment in infrastructure is key to helping the city combat a recession. “F.D.R. believed in building large infrastructure projects to lift the economy,” he said. “But there was another purpose, which was to lift people’s spirits. If you lift the spirits, you lift the economy.”

No timeline for the extension has been announced as of yet.