Went last week to the High Line, a public garden-park that snakes up along what was once an old elevated railtrack. Built in the 1930s, it was used to freight livestock to slaughter in the meatpacking district just below what is now Chelsea. After years of disuse, it was reconstructed as a park. It’s one of my favorite places in the city, although, alas, always overrun by all the other afficionados. The design by Scofidio + Renfro and the planting by Piet Oudolf is all high-end, and high-concept. It’s kind of Deleuzian, wending its way, a meandering linearity, in between the tall’ish buildings. The feature I especially like is the way in which the green line is intermediary, suspended between the hard surface of the ground and the open-ended sky. Neither transcendent nor immanent, it’s felicitous public space. Check out the website. The “Design” tab is very cool.
It’s funny, the experience of the High Line has changed as the buildings around it have fancied up in reaction to the High Line. I do love how it changes your relation to the city as you walk through it. I regret that the grittier buildings around the park have all been prettied up.
Have you noticed, though, that the wooden benches are looking a bit weather-beaten? I bet that was not supposed to happen. But yes, you are absolutely right about all the architectural bling. I wonder if there’s anyway to look past it. Maybe the realization that with a little patience what’s “pretty” now will get “gritty” later. I think about the High Line in comparison to the park recently built under the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. Despite all the development in DUMBO, it’s a much “shabbier” place, which I actually like a lot more.
I would venture that the benches were supposed to get weathered.
We drove north today from the Holland Tunnel home. The far west side in the old days was just so gritty. David and I used to joke about spending a romantic weekend at that ancient triangular hotel ( sort of a mini Flat Iron building) on West Street at the far reaches of the meat packing district. ( We used to joke about spending out honeymoon there) We noticed today that like the rest of the neighborhood, it’s gotten gussied up. I think that it’s no longer even a hotel but is now apartments.
You have to get to a neighborhood before it has gotten completely adorable.