High Line Overcrowding: Only 1,700 Visitors at a Time?

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Got a wristband? Photo: Courtesy of New York City

With an opening summer benefit party set for June 15 and wealthy patrons scrambling to throw cash its way, High Line hype has reached a fever pitch (and just in time for next Tuesday's opening). Which is why the city is anticipating having to limit attendance to the first phase of the elevated track to 1,700 visitors at a time once it opens to the public. Speaking at a Community Board 2 meeting last night, the Parks Department’s High Line project administrator, Michael Bradley, detailed the contingency plan for overcrowding.

During peak periods, access to the facility would be limited to the southernmost entrance at Gansevoort Street and interested visitors would receive wristbands permitting admission to the park at allotted hours. Eventually, Bradley said, a live web link will allow people to check the park’s availability prior to making the trek west.

“One of the things that we’re uncertain about is the number of visitors that we’re going to get,” Bradley explained, “so we’re putting in place a plan — which we’re not going to start unless we need to — where we’ll control access to the park.” While Friends of the High Line manages the project, the Parks Department is in charge of providing security.

Bradley emphasized that admission would not be capped at the High Line’s outset. Rather, attendance will be monitored by park employees and evaluated to determine the necessity of implementing the 1,700-person limit and the wristband system to curb the flow of visitors to the facility.

“Obviously, some people will be upset by this,” he acknowledged. “But this [high interest] is a good problem to have and it will diminish as time goes on.”

Asked by a meeting attendee whether “VIP cards” or allowances for bypassing the restricted access would exist should the city decide to engage the plan, Bradley answered, “Not unless you get a job with the Parks Department.”