Sunday, July 12, 2009

Back in the High Line Again

I had a meeting with my website designer this week at Pastis so I thought it was the perfect time to visit the new High Line park and I'm so glad that I did! I live uptown with all of Central Park as my backyard so I really had no idea what to expect from a park on an old elevated railway downtown but I was blown away by it's thoughtful design.

The High Line was originally constructed in the 1930's to elevate dangerous freight trains that served the warehouses in the area off the streets of Manhattan. It was used up until 1980 and thereafter fell into a state of disrepair with weeds growing up through the old rails. It wasn't until 1999 that redevelopment was suggested. In 2004 the fund were allotted and finally in June 2009 part of the new High Line park was opened.

The High Line park will eventually run from Ganesvoort Street in the Meatpacking District all the way to 34th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. Right now, it is only open from Ganesvoort Street to 20th Street from 7:00am to 10:00pm. I've joked before that 10th Avenue is no man's land. The only things over there in addition to the chic galleries are gas stations, garages and parking lots, things associated with cars since you need one to get there so the High Line park is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

The High Line was led by James Corner Field Operations with Diller Scofidio + Renfro who did an amazing job combining the old elements with the new. The wildflowers and plantings mimic the types of plants that would have grown up on the derelict railway.

The plantings look pretty now in the summer and will look even more beautiful next spring!

The grooved areas are meant to look like the rails that still remain in some other areas.

I really loved the benches and wood areas. I'm not easily impressed but I was very impressed by the overall design of the park. I also love that it changes from area to area but is still cohesive.

The views from the elevated park are the best part.

Here you can see how the park still meanders through the old warehouses that have probably been converted to offices and galleries.

The juxtaposition of the new walkways and benches with the old railings and wildflowers is a lovely combination.

Except for the buildings in the background, it's easy to forget that you are in the middle of a bustling city!

This area is the Chelsea Market Art Passage/Public Art Program and also serves as a shady area to escape the sunshine.

I had no idea that the colored panes in this space which was the former Nabisco Factory were an art piece until I read the accompanying sign. "The River that Flows Both Way" was created by artist Spencer Finch and consists of panes of colored glass whose color was derived from 700 photographs that he took of the Hudson River's surface. The color of each pane was based on a single pixel point in each photograph and arranged chronologically in the tunnel's existing steel mullions. The title of the piece is a translation of the the Native American name of the Hudson that refers to the river's natural flow in two directions.

The result is even more amazing in real life and reminds me of the stained glass windows in the finest cathedrals!

Another amazing view from the High Line!

The Sundeck area and it's fabulous lounge chairs is one of the most popular areas as I can personally attest! I took a little break to enjoy the sun and watch all the passersby.

The High Line is a very popular place for all the neighborhood gallery girls and guys to eat their lunch!

The Meatpacking District is still a little gritty despite the fancy shops so the park is a nice respite from the concrete jungle. I was surprised how peaceful it is when you are up there. You really can't hear the usual sounds of the city such as car horns or sirens.

Here you can see how the rails become part of the design.

The elevated park gives you an amazing view of the city including 14th Street here.

Here the planting sprout up in the middle of the walkway underneath the new Standard Hotel.

It was funny to see beautiful flowers above while men were loading trucks in the Meatpacking District below!

It will be interesting to see how the look of the park changes from season to season!

More views of the tracks and wooden "ties".

Even a roof below has gotten into the act and is covered with flowers!

The Standard Hotel looks really amazing when seen from below. If you stay there, you really do need to close the shades if you don't want to be seen!

The High Line park is a great place to read a book!

Another view of an inspired bench design!

From this photo, you would never know you were on an old elevated railway!

The best part is that when you get hungry, you can pop down to Pastis for a gourmet lunch and possibly a celebrity sighting! Oh, and there is a Christian Louboutin store over on Hudson Street but you didn't hear that from me!

When I was trying to come up with a witty name for this post, I kept coming back to the old Steve Winwood song, Back in the High Life. It's amazing how the lyrics are perfect for this park in the sky that I hope everyone will make a point to see!

It used to seem to me
That my life ran on to fast
And I had to take it slowly
Just to make the good parts last
But when you're born to run
It's hard to just slow down
So don't be surprised to see me
Back in that bright part of town.

I'll be back in the high life again,
All the doors I closed one time will open up again.
I'll be back in the high life again,
All the eyes that watched me one will smile and take me in.
And I'll drink and dance with one hand free
Let the world back into me
And on I'll be a sight to see
Back in the high life again.

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