#8 Robert Hammond

Co-founder, Friends of the High Line, OHNY Leadership Council & site sponsor
Lives in the West Vaillage, Manhattan

What is your relationship to New York City? I am originally from Texas. I moved to New York right after I graduated in 1993 and I never thought twice about it. I just knew I would move to New York.

How and when did you learn about OHNY? Years ago, one of Friends of the High Line’s best volunteers (Scott Lauer, the founder of openhousenewyork) said that he couldn’t volunteer for us anymore because he was starting up his own non-profit. We said we wanted to do whatever we could to help.

So far, what has been your favorite OHNY site and/or program? The good news is tours of the High Line are one of the most popular events, but that means I never get to see any other sites or programs during OHNY Weekend. But, it is an exciting experience to take people up on the rail yards. In the beginning, the first time we participated in OHNY Weekend back in 2003, there was nothing much to see. The High Line was just an idea. We took visitors up to a platform at 511 West 25th Street to look down on the rough tracks. We have photos of the long lines. It was very moving to see that people were so interested in viewing it. There were amazing crowds.

If you could gain access to any site in New York that you wanted, what would that site be? The IRT (Interboro Rapid Transit Company) Powerhouse because it is such a historic building – it’s a great industrial yet Beaux-Arts building that has never been opened to the public. Do you have any connections there? Yes, I’m on the board of the Hudson River Powerhouse Group.

As it’s the holiday season, what is your favorite holiday spot in New York? I don’t know, Amazon? You mean amazon.com? Did we stump you, Robert? You did.

What is the best-kept secret about New York City? Hector’s Place. It’s an old Meatpacking District restaurant that is under the High Line (44 Little West 12th Street), across the street from The Standard. It’s an old traditional diner that sits right in the middle of this changing neighborhood. The diner used to be open only from 2am to 2pm for the meatpackers.

What sites do you have on your “to do” list for the 2012 OHNY Weekend? If you weren’t giving tours of the High Line? I would go visit the cemeteries and see more of the Bronx.

If you could plan it, how would you celebrate OHNY’s Tenth Anniversary? I would throw a party at the former Cloud Club in the Chrysler building. (We believe parts of the floors were converted to office space and are currently occupied.)

What is the thing you love most about OHNY? That it brings design to a wider audience than just architects, designers and urban planners.

Why should people give to OHNY? Laughs. Well, after they have donated to Friends of the High Line people should donate to OHNY because people don’t realize how difficult it is to put these things on. It showcases the best of New York and also makes New York better. It’s mainly free to the public, but it doesn’t happen for free.

We have one more question for you. The High Line has been part of the Annual OHNY Weekend since 2003, how do you think the High Line has benefited from being part of OHNY? When we ask our members what program stands out the most, it is always OHNY. It is on the top of everyone’s list. It is a chance for people to participate and do things that most people don’t get a chance to do.

Thanks for sharing, Robert!


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