Eco-friendly urban renewal has special secondary benefits aside from simply being eco-friendly. It can attract people to the area, and consequently increases economic activity, property values, and the number of projects coming into the area. The High Line in New York City is a particularly special example of eco-friendly urban renewal. Since its inception in the late 1990s, it has been positively affecting the lives of thousands of residents and tourist experiences with its history and beauty. But, how has this project gained so much support over the years? How has the project been communicated by those running it and what media do they use that ensures their success?
First, let’s look at a little history of the project. The High Line was originally built in the 1930s to reroute large freight above the busy streets of lower Manhattan, but after several decades of use, the traffic ceased on the road in 1980. In 1999, a community-based non-profit group called Friends of the High Line was created to protect the High Line from demolition by pushing to create an elevated park along the historic tracks. After years of pushing for the project, they gained New York City’s support in 2002. Another two years later, $50 million was pledged by the City to redevelop the High Line, and construction began in 2006.
This past spring, the second half of the High Line was finally completed and opened to the public. The impact of this project is enormous. The redevelopment of the High Line has spurred nearly 30 real estate development projects along and near the park, and crime in the park has been next to none, likely due to the park’s high exposure to surrounding buildings. Furthermore, the park boasts fantastic views of the Hudson River, attracting thousands of tourists and residents.
However, the work isn’t done just yet. Determined to keep the park interesting and exciting for those who visit, Friends of the High Line, in conjunction with New York City and other non-profit groups, like Creative Time, are installing art exhibits and hosting workshops for all visitors. Various installations and live performance pieces are regularly held on the High Line.
Friends of the High Line has done some pretty incredible things with this project, but even now, how do they keep people informed about their new projects and ideas for the park?
Their communication strategy takes a multi-faceted approach. While they do have a website, thehighline.org, they do not rely solely on it to reach the maximum number of people. A staff blog complements the website with entries about worker experiences, art exhibits, and any news related to the project. It has a Twitter page with nearly 13,200 and counting, a Flickr account with photos from the beginning of the project up to today, and, of course, a Facebook page with almost 30,000 fans. By tapping into the strength of social media, Friends of the High Line is able to keep people up to date with recent news and more importantly gain the attention of thousands of people. Having a Facebook page, Twitter account, and Flickr pages are in some way like having one’s own free website, and oftentimes nowadays, when people want to know about something, they first look to these sites for information. The popularity of the High Line to tourists and residents alike is ever-growing, and we should look at this communication strategy as an effective method to gain attention.