My main motivation for this post is to give Greg a little something to look at while he recuperates from his hernia surgery. All went well, he's doing fine, but he's been wanting my report on the new Highline Park for a while, and I figure even if he's not able to sit down for long, or if the painkillers make it hard to focus, he'll still enjoy the pictures. I know what it's like to have the attention-span of a fruit bat.
I first went to the park on July 9th. That day the weather was cool and breezy, the air dry, the light clear and beautiful. This week I went on Tuesday, when it was humid as hell, and there was a smog advisory. As you can imagine, most of the good shots come from the July trip. You should be able to enlarge all of them.
This is not actually a part of the park, but it's a building I liked about a block from the uptown entrance. I know nothing about this place. I just think it looks cool.I'm always delighted when more greenery is added to an urban environment. Turning previously unusable space--with a minimum of fall-out for locals, I hope-- into a public park is inspired, I think. Next time you're in town, Greg, we'll be sure to go. I hope your recovery is speedy and painless.
Here is the 20th St entrance to the park. This part of town was previously industrial and in recent years has been taken over by art galleries. I learned from my time at Pratt that landing a gallery in Chelsea is a big status symbol for artists.
Oh, perhaps many of you don't know what all the fuss is about. The Highline is a stretch of abandoned elevated train tracks on the west side of Manhattan. A few years back someone noticed wildflowers were growing up there and decided to turn it into a proper city park. Parts of it are still under construction, but a good portion of it is now available.
A viewing gallery, where one can sit and watch the traffic pass below. I'm not sure why this appeals to people, but it does, me included. Maybe the unusual angle is the draw. Or perhaps we like the sense of floating over something.
Melissa and I went in July; about a week later my friend Sian and I tried to go again, but since it was a Sunday, there were huge lines at the entrances, as if people were waiting to get on a roller coaster. When I went back this past Tuesday afternoon I was again able to walk right on, the crowds were noticeable but not oppressive, so for the foreseeable future I would recommend avoiding it on weekends.
Both times I've gone, the buzz of the crowd seemed more like what one finds in a theatre lobby at intermission, than what is typically in a park. One has to climb stairs or take an elevator to get to the location, then one's movements are limited to walking north or south, sitting, standing, or looking at stuff. The park is really the only reason to be there, and for now at least, it feels like an event as much as it is a location.
I appreciated being able to see some distance, and be up a little higher than normal in this part of town. In every city one pays extra for 'views' but New York, especially Manhattan, takes that to an extreme. In Seattle or San Francisco, for example, one can get some gorgeous scenery just by walking up a hill. Here, being able to see far distances almost always costs money, in the form of an expensive high rise apartment, restaurant, or club. The Highline provides a whole new set of vistas.
I appreciate the fact that many of the rails were left in place, with cement and plantings put in around them.
This is my most successful lying-on-the-ground shot, especially for Greg. Yes, that is the Empire State building. That's how you know it's really New York. A view of this or the Statue of Liberty is necessary to validate any image of Manhattan. I can also vouch that the Highline is truly a New York park, since no one cared that I was lying on the ground, as long as I wasn't blocking traffic. Here it is possible to block traffic, but so far people seem aware of that, and careful to avoid it. The flow remained constant and cordial.
The park provides a new perspective on an area in the later throes of gentrification. There are still plenty of abandoned-looking warehouse spaces (some of which probably are art galleries nonetheless), but one can also find very high end condos and high rises, often on the same block. On the Highline it often takes just a turn of the head to see both extremes.
I quickly learned that it's difficult to get angles that show you just how high in the air the park is. Often an image just suggests a well flowered parking strip, on street level. So finding ways to show the elevation became my goal.
This doesn't accomplish that.
This one comes close, doesn't it?
Yes, I believe that IS a Gehry.
I include this shot mostly for Greg's sake, since I am pretty sure that's the bar we went after Sarah and Danny's wedding. It was nice place after a great occasion, but I think it will particularly live in Greg's heart as the place where he was carded on his 44th birthday.
One of the best angles for showing the elevation, I think.
This is another public space, which I'll have to investigate at some point. And I figure anything looking down gives you a sense of being up, right?