Tag Archives: High Line

Another visit to The High Line

I spent a good part of the day Thursday at The High Line in New York City. It is one of my favorite places on earth. It overstimulates and relaxes me at the same time. It is one of the greatest juxtapositions of urban and meadow I’ve ever seen. It was designed by Piet Oudolf.

Drop the mic.

I won’t carry on too much today because I’ve written about The High Line in the recent past and you can and should check out those posts before proceeding any further.

You can read about my inaugural visit here:

The High Line

And then dive into greater detail with my visit last year, broken down into 3 separate posts because, well, the subject matter justifies it:

High Line part 1

High Line part 2

High Line part 3

The High Line runs roughly 20 city blocks and I walked it end to end at least three times.

The first time without taking a single photo, just a chance to enjoy the stroll, enjoy the day off from work and to just watch. Watch people, plants and the chaos of Manhattan down below.

The second time through was all about capturing photos of the plants against the city backdrop.

The third time was the slowest jaunt of all as I imagined the thought process behind the plant design/layout when it was originally constructed. This was my favorite walk of the day.

If you didn’t check out my prior posts above just know I am going to post pics here without much context. Just a series of pics I like and feel happy sharing.

But before I do that, I feel the need to also share with you, five things I learned about myself while traversing this abandoned railroad in the sky.

  1. I’m old and have no sense of what is fashionable for men today. Yes, I was in New York City, the fashion mecca of the world, but still, I saw more short shorts on men and more man thigh than necessary. One day they’ll look back and laugh.
  2. I love the extremes of the city and the country. The loud noise and chaos doesn’t faze me but there is something about the deafening silence at night in my little rural part of New Jersey that makes me smile.
  3. My own garden mirrors the style of the High Line more and more each year. Let me rephrase that: my garden wishes to be even 5% of the awesomeness of The High Line.
  4. I want to quit my day job and work maintenance on The High Line. The beating down of the summer sun would not phase me one bit. I’d even give tours as well. This place is in my blood.
  5. I need to visit here four times per year: April, June, October and January. I need to feel the vibe of all four seasons.

And on to the photos:

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QOTD: Tell me about your favorite public garden.

 

 

 

High Line – Part 3 – The Plants

And then there were the plants at the High Line.

I’ve debated how to present these and have settled on … as few words as needed.

They really do speak for themselves.

Enjoy.

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High Line – Part 2

As I mentioned in my prior post, the third and final section of the High Line in NYC was completed last September. It is a huge departure from the other sections …  and it totally worked for me. It is known as the “The High Line at the Rail Yards” and you’ll see why that name was chosen in a few.

I highly suggest reading this before proceeding. A much more intelligent and eloquent writer really nailed it and fortunately, I was able to read it before taking the stroll. With that backdrop, it really provided the necessary perspective. My only regret is that I didn’t take the tour at sunrise or sunset. Did you see the photos in that link above? Stunning shots.

The funny thing is, as I approached the new section, my first question was “Is this all everyone says it is cracked up to be?” What would you think after this view below?

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A genuine mess, right? Would it distract enough and take away from what is going on above?

My doubts were eventually lifted as I entered the “11th Ave Bridge“. It takes you in a westerly direction (towards NJ) and provides stunning views of the Hudson River. The bridge is slightly elevated to enhance said views.

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Nice. I’m all in.

After crossing the 11th Avenue Bridge, you soon understand why it is known as the “Rail Yards”. Take a look at the photos below.

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The Rail Yards will soon look much different as they will be replaced by the Hudson Yards which will be a series of high rise buildings home to condominiums, businesses and retail space at a cost close to … gulp … 20 billion.

Interesting factoid – the Hudson Yards were given the green light only after NYC was denied the 2012 Olympics and missed out on the relocation of the New Jersey Nets to the west side of Manhattan.

To the naked eye, the old rail lines along the walk appear to still be suffering from neglect. Looks like a bunch of weeds run amok; Queen’s Anne Lace galore.

However, those are actual plantings that have been strategically placed that way to evoke memories of the abandoned rail line prior to the creation of the High Line.

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So you may see “unruly” but I see a genius at work. A perfect representation of “what was”. As the famed garden designer and High Line planting coordinator/ruler/overseer Piet Oudolf put it, “It’s not wild at all, it’s an introduction to the wild ”.

My biggest concern would be how this all looks/plays out once the Hudson Yards project is completed. Because as of right now, I dig the plantings with the endless mess of rail cars below. It truly evokes old NYC.

So if I had to best summarize the “Rail Yards” experience, it is cool urban-retro-neglected-garden look with modern amenities along the walk and … sick views.

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Part 3 soon to come where all I will focus on is the plants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High Line visit – Part 1

High Line post no longer on hold.

While the future of my personal garden is up in the air, I’m doing my best to keep a positive attitude. To keep pushing on and living life to the fullest even though the future is so uncertain. And today nothing makes me happier than writing about the High Line.

So I will do just that.

I took a day off last week to spend it entirely on the High Line. It did not disappoint. Well check that, the $46 cost for parking was a bit of a BS deal disappointment, but when in NYC …

It was the perfect summer day without a cloud in the sky. While all others were slumming away at their jobs, I was gleefully pacing the old elevated freight rail line stretching from 14th to 34th street in Manhattan.

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I had visited the High Line back in September and only had a chance to walk it between 14th and 20th street. This time I walked the entire thing … three times.

Once without taking a single photo in order to get a good feel for this urban oasis in its entirety, a second time to observe the surrounding buildings and their interplay with the garden and a third time to pay special attention to the plants. The story of the plants will be covered in a separate post because well, they deserve it.

I love Manhattan. I love the chaos, the diversity, the energy and the aura of wondering what is going on behind the doors of each building as you pass by. I guess I like the extremes. The extreme calm quiet and “country” of my little hamlet in NJ and the extreme of everything in NYC. I’ll pass on the suburbs.

What immediately strikes you upon entering the High Line is how different Manhattan looks not only from the elevated view (30 feet above the streets) but the juxtaposition between hard urban and soft plant life. It is overwhelming at first (in a good way) until you settle in and let the reality of this special place suck you in.

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Even the obnoxious billboards are softened by all of the greenery.

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So as I started my second full tour of the park, I focused on the nearby buildings and how they are integrated into the park itself.

While the obvious sight here is the Empire State Building, I was actually more absorbed by the church that sits in front of the world famous landmark. The church is the “General Theological Seminary”, an Episcopal seminary chartered in 1817 and home to one of the greatest collection of Latin Bibles in the world. I find that to be very cool.

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I absolutely love the compass plant and the way it twists and turns to and from the sun. It makes for wonderful photos with the “city” backdrop.

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More than once, I found myself glued to the view below. As much as I love me some Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium), the building in the background is what caught my eye. It is the IAC building, headquarters for Barry Diller’s Interactive Corporation.

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I have no idea if this is a residence or not, but either way, I want to live there.

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I guess Bisazza is some sort of high end mosaic designer and they just opened this flagship store on the High Line. Big deal, I just want to hang on their rooftop deck.

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Another spot to lounge and be seen by those walking the High Line. I especially love the astro-turf/putting green flooring.

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The artwork/sculptures along the way pack an even larger punch when viewed from up on high.

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This one is very cool. That is not graffiti on the brick wall. It is a sculpture that is at least 10-20 feet away but obviously placed there to create the illusion.

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Not window washing, but building surface washing. This is “HL 23”, the first building to be named after the park. It’s claim to fame is that it is wider by 40% at the top in order to conform to NYC zoning laws.

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The bulk of the High Line is surrounded by Manhattan construction projects galore. Once could argue that it fits right in with the urban/garden vibe or that it is a distraction. I sort of lean towards the former.

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My next post will cover the latest section to be completed (September 2014), between 30th and 34th street. It is a complete departure from the other sections yet makes a lot of sense when viewed as a whole.

Until then …

The High Line

As I mentioned in my previous post, my wife and I visited the High Line while in New York City last weekend. Here is my take on this heavenly garden/park/urban oasis.

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Some background first.

The High Line is a park, thirty feet above the streets of Manhattan’s West Side. It occupies a former freight rail line that runs for just under 1.5 miles from Gansevoort Street north to west 34th street.

The elevated rail line carried freight to and from NYC starting in 1934 and running until 1980. It remained abandoned from that point forward until 2009 when it officially opened as a park.

The plantings on the High Line were designed by landscape architect James Corner and everyone’s favorite plant designer (seriously, you can’t argue it) Piet Oudolf. It is creatively chunked out into different garden environments along the way and from personal experience, feels like a true “journey” as you venture through.

The history is much more rich than what I just passed along and I highly recommend you read up more on it through a quick Google search or by reading this book, which I just happened to finish last week.

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You can find it here on Amazon. I promise that if you read it cover to cover, you will find a way to make it to NYC in order to experience it first hand. The history of the rail line and the surrounding neighborhood is fascinating, even if you’ve never set foot in New York City . I will be referencing stories from this book to drop some serious knowledge on you as you navigate through this post.

A few things before I take you on a tour of my High Line excursion. Due to time constraints, we were only able to spend about an hour at the park (damn family obligations). And we only experienced from 19th street south to 12th street. That is roughly 1/3 of  the entire park. However, you will see that 1/3 was still pretty fantastic. If my math is right, multiply your enjoyment of this post by 3.34 (I rounded) to get a feel for the true wonder of this expansive space.

And one more thing, it was way more crowded than I ever anticipated.

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Because of that, it was a challenge to enjoy the park at a slow pace (I liken it to shopping at IKEA) and to photograph it without human beings ruining every shot. I vow to spend an entire day here each season so I can capture the essence of this wonder. It really was that moving.

I struggled with how to present the photographs/layout of the High Line to you and settled on breaking it out by

1)the plants

2)the vistas/views

3)the surrounding buildings/architecture

4)quirky things to see along the way

First, the plants:

You could feel the transition to Fall in the air while seemingly floating above the Manhattan streets and of course by the state of the plants. I love this time of year as the flowers fade, the seed heads take center stage, the foliage changes color on a daily basis and most importantly to this guy, the ornamental grasses dominate.

A little of all those things could be witnessed on the High Line:

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Spectacular, eh? This place is right in my wheelhouse and it begs the question, why did it take me so long to visit? I have no good answer for you, but know this, I will learn each and every detail of this place sooner than later and WILL be giving personal tours in the near future. I ain’t kiddin.

When I previously talked about vistas/views, I meant the juxtaposition between urban concrete/brick/stone/yellow cabs and soft, gentle plant life.

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And there are worse things than viewing the Statue Of Liberty from underneath a grouping of Acer triflorum trees.

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Or an FDNY fireboat spraying water all over the Hudson River (looking towards New Jersey).

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Many times, I was temporarily lost in dreaming of my future rooftop garden.

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How fun to enjoy this view of modern architecture while trying not to step on Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’.  On the left is the IAC building, the headquarters for InterActiveCorps run by Barry Diller.

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I’m incredibly relaxed and possibly floating while observing the chaos of the Manhattan streets below me.

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Behind the varying facades along the walk are world renowned designers, Google offices, etc.

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I have no idea what this is but you know there is a fascinating story behind it.

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This is the Standard Hotel which was built with the High Line in mind. It is a known fact that guests commonly leave their curtains open and wander around in the buff for all to see below. I can vouch for this as we did see one dude ironing while letting it all hang out.

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Just some colored panes of glass right? Not that simple. Read more about it here. The glass colors are based on hundreds of photos a photographer snapped of the Hudson River. Seriously, check out that link above.

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Believe it or not, this is known as “Death Avenue Amphitheater”. It is a chance to relax, stretch out and watch a framed view of NYC traffic. A bizarre concept that I loved to pieces and totally bought into while there. Only in New York …

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Even the birds enjoy the High Line … well that and all of the food spilled by all those annoying tourists.

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Another great aspect of the High Line; unlimited seating opportunities. That guy looks really relaxed.

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And finally, maybe my favorite photo from the day. I think it captures all that the High Line represents; urban meets plants life in a wonderful mash-up.

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So when are you coming with me?