The park is up there on the elevated line. You can ascend at 20th, 18th and 14th Streets. The stairs at 20th Street, below
Climbing, climbing . . .
. . . The idea of park doesn't really materialize until you're just about on top of it, below. Before the multimillion-dollar makeover you could look out the windows of various galleries to see patches of grass visible sprouting from the gravel, but not like this:
Originally built in the 1930s to carry goods from the 35th Street rail yards to warehouses that line the Hudson River down to Gansevoort, the High Line fell into disuse 50 years later. If you've been to Chelsea in the past two decades, what you saw was a rusting overhead monstrosity that delivered the frequent and numerous droppings of pigeons that roosted there, and until recently served as the anchor for the annoying look-at-me billboard musings of one Patrick Mimran, above. (The overhead is still underdeveloped above 20th Street. Ongoing work is expected to be completed next year.)
For now, it offers a pleasant stroll for 10 blocks, or half a mile. There are some odd segments. One is the overlook at 17th Street, left, a kind of amphitheater whose rows of seats are set to look down on . . . the traffic heading up 10th Avenue. The architects, Diller & Scofidio, did something similar with their media room for Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art, except there the view is of the harbor. But I'm being picky. The amphitheater offers a lot of seats for walkers to sit and talk, have lunch, read the paper, and plenty of sky.
Commerce has asserted itself in some some pleasing and not-so-pleasing ways. Pleasing: Food vendors selling tasty snacks. I had a savory slice of leek and cheese pizza with a flaky crust from, I think, City Bakery. (That pretzel-croissant dough is a unique taste; it had to be City Bakery.) Not-so-pleasing: the gargantuan V-shape building that is the newly built Standard Hotel, which straddles the park with wide concrete legs and towers over it like something out of Transformers.
The Standard Hotel straddling the High Line
Speaking of straddling, there are some views right into apartment buildings that line the slender park, and word has it that a few residents are having sex for all to see. (What's weirder? Being the voyeur or the voyee?) That's gossip, though. I haven’t even seen doggies doing it—and that's because dogs are not allowed in the park.
Uh, I'm the voyeur with the camera reflected in the window of an apartment.
But enough talk. Let me show you some pictures that take you down to Gansevoort Street:
The original rail line traveled through the center of several warehouses. Now those buildings are under renovation. . . .
. . . Inside one building is an installation by Spencer Finch, who traveled the Hudson photographing the color of the river. Those hues were translated to glass panes which now color the windows of a long stretch of outside/inside wall
Not sure who did this installation, but someone's been color coordinating
A raised bed for plantings; my favorite stretch of track, below
The end of the line: Washington Street at Gansevoort
Below: Cafes and clean streets. There's even a Helmut Lang boutique nearby