Taking the High Line?

After the sadness of the 9/11 Memorial the High Line was such a great place to go and explore and refresh our spirits. The most poignant part of the memorial though, wasn’t the scale of the area or drama of  the cascading water draining into the black vortex like an Anish Kapoor sculpture where you can never figure out where the  base of the sculpture is. No, it was a bunch of daffodils that some one had placed into the incised letters of a victim’s name. That small personal touch – like placing flowers on a grave – held more significance than any elaborate public landscape for this visitor.

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Getting to the High Line by taxi was the best way of seeing a small slice through New York City through the Meat Packing District. The High Line is a former elevated railway freight line on Manhattan’s West Side that was going to be demolished. The Friends of the High Line fought to prevent demolition starting in 1999 and they were successful.

The first section from from Gansevoort Street in the Meat packing District to West 20th Street, opend in June 2009 and the next section from West 20th and West 30th Streets, opened June 8, 2011. There’s another section, the High Line at the Rail Yards between West 30th and West 34th Streets which will open in 2014. The overall design was done by  James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro and planting designer Piet Oudolf.

Its’ a great piece of very rational, strategic design with a consistent vocabulary of railway-inspired elements that carries through it’s length and breadth without becoming monotonous. As each part of this elevated landscape is in a different context, there are always changing views and experiences. Making that extra piece of lineal space available to New Yorkers and visitors was an inspired thing to do and to match it up with some great design and art work makes it even better.

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