Jeff Koons Proposes Bringing Trains Back to the High Line

East, West
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
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Courtesy Friends of the High Line

When preliminary designs for the third and final section of the High Line were revealed, the designers presented several options including flowerbeds and amphitheater seating for the Tenth Avenue Spur, an offshoot of the park that stands above the intersection of 10th Avenue and 30th Street. The design team’s aim is to make the Spur one of the main gathering spaces in the park. Now, with the proposal of a massive installation by artist Jeff Koons calling for a suspended locomotive over the park, the Spur may become exhibition space as well.

Koons’ Train, a full-scale replica of a 1943 Baldwin 2900 steam locomotive, would be suspended above the High Line by a crane. The sculpture would be constructed from steel and carbon fiber, weighing in at several tons. Visitors to the park could stand directly below the 70-foot-long sculpture and stare up at the locomotive as it spins its wheels, blows its horn, and shoots out steam several times daily.

Train has some history with the High Line; there was an effort in 2005 to install the piece in a plaza at West 18th Street and 10th Avenue but the space available would not permit installation.

In 2008, Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) Michael Govan began studying the feasibility of installing the piece in conjunction with LACMA’s expansion, and talks with the City of Los Angeles are ongoing. But while LACMA managed to haul a 340-ton rock from a mountain quarry through the streets of LA, it seems their Train may have left the station.  Both the museum and Koons have expressed support for installing Train at the High Line regardless of the outcome in LA, so the possibility of a trans-continental Train still exists.

Arnold, a German fabricator, is conducting engineering and fabrication studies, taking into account public safety and cost. The piece is estimated to cost at least $25 million to build and install. Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line, explained on the Friends of the High Line Blog, “Our top priority is to build and open the rail yards section of the High Line. In order for this idea to become a reality, we would need to determine a way to safely integrate Train into the rail yards design, and find private support from a single funder to build it.”

Jeff Koons, Courtesy LACMA

Jeff Koons, Courtesy LACMA

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