Joint Venture

In New York, you can connect anything with anything, so long as you have the right connections.

For anyone who’s ever wondered why it takes so much time and schleppery to build high-quality infrastructure in New York City, the new High Line Connector answers with an emphatic Ya gotta have clout! The one-block-wide, one-block-long, leaf- and CLT-laden appendix to the popular Manhattan skyway park appeared on the West Side practically overnight by local standards—eighteen months from start to finish. The quick and skillful execution is certainly a credit to the project’s designers, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and James Corner Field Operations, though it likely has as much or more to do with the influence of its backers: Brookfield Properties, owner of the Manhattan West commercial complex that marks the Connector’s eastern terminus; Friends of the High Line, the juiced-up nonprofit that transformed the former Chelsea elevated railway with help from Barry Diller, the Ford Foundation, Estée Lauder, and others; and the Empire State Development Corporation, the 800-pound bureaucratic gorilla whose bond-issuing and eminent-domain powers surely came in handy. While the Connector serves the laudable civic purpose of linking one of the city’s most well-trafficked green spaces with the new Amtrak facility at Moynihan Train Hall, its primary accomplishment was undoing the planning snafu created by the Related Companies’ pedestrian-blocking mall on the eastern flank of Hudson Yards, while affording Amazon employees in the former Farley Post Office a nicer walk to lunch. “On Margate Sands, / I can connect / Nothing with nothing,” wrote T. S. Eliot. In New York, you can connect anything with anything. If you know the right people.