Monday, June 20, 2011

Walk the High Line

High Line, NYC

On southern Manhattan on the eastern side of the island in the neighborhoods of Hell's Kitchen, Chelsea and the Meatpacking District are the remnants of an elevated train line. It was used since the 1930s to get the dangerous freight trains off the street, and shipped in produce, meat and wares to stores, warehouses, and markets in lower Manhattan.  As trucks took over this type of transportation, the High Line because less and less used, with the last train delivering frozen turkeys in the 1980s.  Since then it was abandoned and became an eye sore, until a visionary proposed to make it into an elevated long, narrow park.  Imagine a steam locomotive coming by on that elevated railroad.  It once did...
High Line, NYC

The High Line is a long narrow park, with gorgeous plantings and many places to sit and ponder the city scapes. The first section opened in 2009, and I walked it a few weeks ago.  Two more sections will open (one just did), and when finished it will run from 34 Street all the way past down 13th Street.  In many places, the High Line is the only real green you can see in this urban landscape.

High Line, NYC

Right next to the High Line are abandoned old factory and warehouse buildings, inhabited only be pigeons and rats (and maybe some homeless people too). You have the urban history within literally hand's and feet's reach, and you walk the line past in time. 

High Line, NYC: bench

I love the benches, with shapes inspired by railroad sidings ('sidospår' in Swedish).

High Line, NYC: view over the Hudson River

You can see New Jersey on the other side of the Hudson River from the High Line.  Tugboats, ships, ferry terminals, they are still there.

High Line, NYC: benches under trees

Parts of the elevated tracks are wider and have been made into meeting spaces and performance scenes.  Even trees are planted up here. I bet they have a large water bill.

High Line, NYC: Nouthern spur, now deadends into building

This railroad spur once went into this building to unload cargo, but now it is a wildflower meadow.  What a juxtaposition with the industrial, natural and architectural all meeting at one point.

High Line, NYC

You are not allowed to walk on the tracks, except here. I love 'frogs'.

High Line, NYC: one-legged skyscraper

You can walk under people's bedrooms.  And underneath the High Line is a Bier Garten.

High Line, NYC: hair and flowers

The High Line is really an amazing place.  It brings people outside, and it is green snake oasis in a environment of hot (in the summer) or cold (in the winter) concrete, metal, and glass.  It elevates the whole neighborhood, from just regular dirty New York (with fancy bars and stores mixed in) so something that is awesome. The person that pulled this off and got this done, has done amazing things for southern Manhattan.  Finally some green is back on the island.

High Line, NYC

I didn't see one weed on my hour-long walk.  There are gardeners everywhere and the plantings are impeccable, made to look natural but with horticultural varieties and species. It is gorgeous, designed, and honestly, not naturally planted, but who cares?  This is really like painting with living plants, and I love it too. And after all, the plants are growing on a railroad track, in the air, on a man made structure.  I was wondering what would happen if you stopped weeding and watering - probably just what happened when the railroad was abandoned in the 1980s.  Weeds and trees came in, and now they are all gone.  Removed for more organized plants and less dirty, less chaotic plant life.

Many more photos from my visit here.


PP said...

Here on another blog are some pics of what came before the high line. All trains were proceeded by a "10th avenue Cowboy", a guy on a horse that warned pedestrians, cars, etc, of the coming train. The New York Central Railroad had a most unusual locomotive employed on 10th Ave. Built for tight curves and steep grades the Shay locomotive was covered by a sheet metal shroud and looked little like a steam locomotive. This was done so the moving parts would be less likely to scare horses.

Horses...hard to imagine working horses in NYC streets now...

LS said...

I think that these street trains are mentioned in A Winter's Tale, right? One of the boys work with the horses, I think.

So this Shay was not steam-powered?

PP said...

yes steam powered, but only ran on the street, not on the high line. They were pre high line.

Yes I think its in Winter's Tale too