Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The best NYC discovery: The Highline

Of all the things I saw in New York City, The High Line was the most unexpected and beautiful surprise.

The High Line is a one mile aerial linear park that runs through three of the most well known neighborhoods of Manhattan- the Meat-packing District, West Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen. 

The high Line was built in the 1930's, to elevate dangerous freight traffic from the streets of NYC's  largest industrial district.  The last train ran in 1980- soon thereafter a group of developers wanted to demolish the High Line in favor of more construction/buildings.  Thankfully, community activists united to save the abandoned rail line and lobbied for it to be used as a public space. 

And, here it is today: a perfect combination of modern design and natural beauty.

I loved how the original train tracks sometimes ran through the plant beds and then would become part of the walkway.  It was always a seamless transition, but a constant reminder of the historical contradiction of this tranquil place.

There were parts of the High Line that you would never guess existed in a city, especially New York City- the "concrete jungle".  The High Line does it's part in combating the negative connotation of that term.

Seeing water on the High Line was a wonderful surprise as well. It was integrated in a very modern way, but added the essential "oasis" factor. It was peaceful and beautiful and reflected the surrounding city. 

I loved how the rusted metal plant borders helped incorporate the original train tracks- rusted metal was a continuous design element that blended the modern design with the history of the rail line.

 I thought that having these diagonal cut-outs in the path was a great way for the plants to enter the space softly instead of butting up against a solid concrete barrier.  It really felt more natural than it would have been had this design element been left out.

There are wonderful seating options throughout the mile walk.  There are chaise/benches that are not only beautifully designed, but surprisingly comfortable.

This same stacked horizontal board look has been used in a "stadium seating" format.  Some have been turned into observation "decks", where the seating is positioned towards the street, so you can watch the traffic below.

And there are simple linear benches that are placed in the water and among the plants.

The surrounding city is the perfect backdrop for this modern oasis- it made me realize how beautiful all of the intersections of people, steel, concrete and glass become when seen from a tranquil and "live" space

The High Line has become an amazing place for installation artists to display their artwork. The artwork is rotated out throughout the year.  You can see the schedule of upcoming commissions on the official High Line website- http://www.thehighline.org/about/public-art.  While I was there, there were three amazing pieces on display. 

Landscape With Path
Darren Almond, fullmoon@thenorthsea
Monday, October 3rd- Monday, October 31st
Installed on a billboard east of the High Line at West 18th Street

The final work in Joel Sternfeld's Landscape with Path series shows an image of Huangshan mountain range shot in moonlight.

 Still Life With Landscape (Model for a Habitat)
Sarah Sze
June 2011- June 2012
On the High Line between West 20th and West 21st streets 

Sarah Sze presents a an elaborate architectural sculpture that allows park visitors to physically enter and pass through the space it outlines, while also attracting birds, butterflies, and insects with perches, feeding spots, and birdbaths

 Alive-Nesses: Proposal for Adaptation
Charles Mary Kubricht
Debuted Saturday, September 24th, 2011
High Line at the Rail Yards

High Line storage containers are camouflaged with a paint scheme used to disguise World War I warships from the enemy.

I was so grateful to see this little part of the city- not exactly off the beaten path, more like above it.  The High Line is a perfect example of how nature can humanize a city- it adds creation back into the world of innovation.  Beautiful!

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