This afternoon I finally made it down to the High Line to have a look, and I am very happy to report that it’s a uniquely magical place. Climbing up thirty or so steps puts you above the street at about the level of the third floor of surrounding buildings, so you are above the fray while still aware of the very urban surroundings. This leaves you better able to appreciate the architecture and get long vistas of the Hudson.
The original steel structure on both sides has been spiffed up and is handsomely geometric. When visiting Chicago, I’ve always been jealous about how that great city managed so well to preserve and integrate its industrial past with the present. Now New York City has done the same.
Some of the original railroad tracks have been left in place and the slats along the way create miniature gardens for the plantings of Piet Oudolf, the brilliant landscape architect who designed the gardens at Battery Park (see my prior blog of that title). Starting at Gansevoort Street, the plantings are subtle, with low grasses predominating. As one moves north, the miniature gardens become brightly floral, more plentiful, and luscious–but always with a sense of wildness that had been characteristic of the abandoned hi-line (which I was lucky enough to see about five years ago during Open House New York).
Only about 1/3 of the proposed route is open, from Gansevoort to 20th Street. I can’t wait to go back and see how it develops and changes with the seasons and time of day. The bumblebees are already feasting on the nectar of tall yellow floral spires, and I suspect that there will be butterflies before long. For humans, the hi-line is a user-friendly park, and many people already seem quite at home on the modern, handsome benches–as if the hi-line has long been there, as indeed it has (www.thehighline.org).
My camera batteries gave out before I did, but here’s what you’ll see shortly after entering into this unique garden walkway from Gansevoort. (The closest subway stop is the C or E to 14th Street.)