Paula Scher on the High Line
Paula Scher’s identity for Friends of the High Line, designed in 2001.
Eventually it became the symbol of the park itself.
In the year 2000, my partner James Biber and I responded to a branding call from a retail company named Watch World. We were visited by the president of the company and his marketing director, a man named Robert Hammond. We made a Pentagram capabilities presentation which seemed to go well, and they asked to write a proposal for the project. After the meeting, Robert Hammond said he’d like to talk to me about something else.
Robert Hammond was involved in trying to stop New York City from tearing down an old industrial railway called “The High Line.” He had formed a group called “Friends of the High Line” and they wanted a logo, letterhead and some business cards, so they would look official. Their idea was to turn the High Line into a park.
As far as I could tell, Hammond had no urban planning experience and wasn’t involved with the Parks Department. He was working with a friend, Joshua David, who was a magazine writer and had no urban planning or park experience either.
I actually had no idea where the High Line was. Hammond seemed like a reasonable enough person, but I didn’t believe he had any chance moving an entire city to accomplish this dream. On the other hand, I did want the Watch World job. I thought, “High Line,” “H,” “train tracks,” “green.” How long could it take?
It took about an hour, and 11 years. What follows is the work we have done for Friends of the High Line and the High Line Itself, in chronological order. Section 2 of the High Line is opening this week and the park is the most visited tourist destination in New York City. Congratulations, Robert and Josh.
Stationery for Friends of the High Line.
Thanks to all the Pentagram designers who have collaborated with Paula Scher on the work for the High Line over the years: Tina Chang, Esther Mun, Sean Carmody, Joe Marianek, Rion Byrd Gumus, Drew Freeman, Emma Goldsmith, Nikola Gottschick, Julia Hoffmann, Lenny Naar, Brian Crooks, Drea Zlanabitnig, Michael Schnepf.