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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
And there are worse things than viewing the Statue Of Liberty from underneath a grouping of Acer triflorum trees.
Or an FDNY fireboat spraying water all over the Hudson River (looking towards New Jersey).
Many times, I was temporarily lost in dreaming of my future rooftop garden.
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.
I’m incredibly relaxed and possibly floating while observing the chaos of the Manhattan streets below me.
Behind the varying facades along the walk are world renowned designers, Google offices, etc.
I have no idea what this is but you know there is a fascinating story behind it.
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.
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.
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 …
Even the birds enjoy the High Line … well that and all of the food spilled by all those annoying tourists.
Another great aspect of the High Line; unlimited seating opportunities. That guy looks really relaxed.
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.
So when are you coming with me?