The High Line is open and it’s the most interesting site specific piece of art I’ve seen in a loooong time. The typical park is a respite from the cacophony of urban life. It’s designed to create an oasis apart from hustle and bustle – to create a space for quiet contemplation. The High Line - however - is designed to embrace and reinforce the experience of New York. The park was created from an abandoned elevated railroad bed, which at the time it was built in the 30’s, was an engineering marvel meant to take the railroad traffic off 10th Avenue and get it out of the way of foot and car traffic. Therefore it’s a long skinny park and walking along it is like walking on a wide sidewalk – a normal New York experience. But this sidewalk has plants – not elegant cultivated plants, but New York plants – native, wild looking species chosen for their hardiness. And they grow through cracks in the concrete – so you always sense the quintessential New York nature-urban conflict. Is nature going to tame the city or vice versa?
And of course like any New York sidewalk, there are tons of people strolling, texting, gossiping, proposing marriage, sunning, having lunch, etc. But unlike your typical New York sidewalk, it’s three stories above the ground, so your whole urban experience is skewed and heightened. You can see out to the river, as well as the inner workings of the parking lot on 19th. Billboards are not waaay in the air, but in your face, as are the assortment of star architect buildings popping up to take advantage of the park. Taxis and traffic are down there as is the vista of 14th Street. But the guys working construction on all the new building are at eye level and newly visible as is the wash hanging from lines in the few remaining tenement buildings. The High Line is New York squared and therefore a wonderful thing.
You gotta go