Monday, June 8, 2009

[VIDEO] A stroll along the Highline, Day 0 (before the cookie carts arrive)






My Photos | My movie (5 min)

I've been a bit remiss in posting to this blog, but this gave me a reason to kick start it. The Highline is a repurposed, elevated railway trestle running from around 17th St to 30th St near Manhattan's western shore. It was slated for the scrap metal yard but an avid supporter group, Friends of the Highline, managed to convince people with deep pockets that it was worth developing into an elevated park.

New York Times posted a nice overview, as did New York Post, so I won't re-swoon the swoonable. Suffice to say it's an intriguing execution merging public landscaping with art. Some of the choo-choo-inspired detailing seems a little cloying on first toe stub - like the raised bits suggesting uneven ground? - but when the plants - or rather, intentional weeds grow through the stylized railway runners, subtlety will prevail. It's a terrific place to watch the sun sink over Jersey.

Some random personal observations:

* It's trippy looking down into the window of the yoga class I once attended at the Equinox Chelsea Gym (when I could afford an "execquinox trial month"); you could downdog in time with men in hard hats hitting things outside the window. The gym should post a sign in the window that says "Put the donut DOWN and get your ass in HERE. NOW." I can just see ad copywriters going beserk with locale-specific one liners...

* There's a spot where you turn a bend and get a giant faceful of a near-fornicating Armani Exchange couple, jolting you out of your communing with weeds - and making you very self conscious of your untoned tum and scowl lines. The sign should say, "We've given this place a facelift. Now how about you? 1-800-BOTOX" It would be MUCH nicer if that ad space was donated to an eco-centric organization or even Amtrak/MTA to encourage use of mass transit, and discourage contributing to the cacophonous maelstrom below ...

* The 'sun lounges' - some on train carriage-like casters that move a little, really are a relaxing way to sit back and gaze across the Hudson to Jersey. I could barely drag myself to my feet once I sat down. I'm glad they restrained themselves from having a plaque attached to each one naming a sponsor. In fact there is a refreshing lack of back-patting in evidence - perhaps because it was largely funded by taxpayer money. Let's hope it stays that way.

* Being Chelsea, it also is suggestive of a fashion show runway, especially with that intrusive Armani Exchange supermodel thrusting her breasts over the chicken wire. Flagship stores of Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Comme de Garcon and all the brands you can't buy until they end up at Century 21 are right around the corner. Maybe we'll see the NY Fashion show move from plastic marquees at Bryant Park to here - with rows of chairs on the street below all pointing Miu Miu-ward.

* Brrr I'd hate to be up there in winter. It got damn chilly last night. As the sun sinks, the railway-platform-inspired lighting takes over. Light is all LED and indirect, there's not a bulb in sight, except for some vertical rows of LED's that might suggest railway signals. I like the way some sections are brightly lit as if by sodium lamps in windswept, forlorn, cross-country railstops, with the opposite side plunged into darkness. Who hasn't pressed their nose against the window in a train rushing on into the night?

* Light, vision, sound ... I wondered if they'd go so far as to have an aural element in the landscaping - the clackety clacking of railways as you pass by certain spots. There's already so much traffic noise I guess that idea, if it ever was one, got weeded out early in the piece.

* As someone who isn't a fan of manicured gardens, I'm eager to see if this structure will elevate the common weed to high art, much like Jackson Pollock did with flinging paint around on a canvas. Someone once said, "A weed is just a plant in the wrong place." Here, on the Highline, the weed has found a place of acceptance and respect.

* As I commented on the NYT site (along with hundreds of others): I'm a cyclist, and I too am glad no bikes or dogs (or skateboards?) are allowed. This city is cacophonous and jostling enough - now there's a place to retreat to in addition to the defunct hospital end of Roosevelt Island, the muʻumuʻu section at the Bay Ridge Century 21 and, of course, your broom closet. Besides, we cyclists need cross training - here's my proof.


More New York Minutes

4 comments:

  1. Truly a cool looking urban space! I've got to check it out with you. Maybe Edson and I can rent bikes again.

    Thanks for your interesting commentary on it!

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  2. I have yet to visit the HL, but I wrote a critique of it while I was away. If you're interested:

    http://nycgarden.blogspot.com/2009/06/high-time-for-high-line.html

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  3. Lovely commentary. You're such a superb writer, Lynette. Such insightful ways of perceiving things.

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  4. For audio I suggest "Mystery Train" by Little Juniors Blue Flames or "My Soul's in Louisiana" by Otis Taylor.
    Both are on YouTube.

    ReplyDelete