The High Line: The Park Up There

High Line Park

Of all the design and public space projects to have gripped New York City since I moved here, few have gotten as much attention as the High Line. A park built on top of an abandoned strip of elevated rail line on the West Side, it had its own exhibit at MoMA when it was still in its design phases. And now it’s open. Well, a piece of it is open. A portion above 20th Street is still under construction and the unrestored line near 34th Street could still be demolished.

It is not the first park of its kind—the Promenade Plantee in Paris is similar (but more traditional in terms of approach) and others are now planned in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Seattle.

After a quick visit yesterday afternoon when the crowds were relatively thin and the sun was blaring, I have to say. It’s pretty awesome. The designers worked to incorporate the site’s original use—the rail line—into the design, so some of the original track is still present. The plantings are based on the foliage that grew naturally on top of the High Line after it was abandoned in the 1980s. There are places where the path melts into the garden, where it swings to the right or left and splits as a rail line would. There are vistas to admire the view and seating to catch rays or read a book. Maybe it won’t be like this on weekends when the crowds come and when the chic Meat Packing District and Chelsea hotels start putting lawn chairs on the perimeter, but on a Monday afternoon, the High Line was sunny and serene—an escape from the chaos below.

Go there:

The High Line is located on the West Side of Manhattan and runs from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street, with sections north of 20th opening on later dates. It’s open from 7am to 10pm. For more information, call (212) 500-6035.


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