I finally got to see New York's High Line Park, after hearing so much about its creation -- and boy, I sure wasn't disappointed. In the picture above (from the High Line's Picture Gallery ) you can see this remarkable ribbon of urban green-space snaking through the buildings of lower Manhattan, built on the bones of a crumbling elevated railway track that had been slated for demolition.
Untouched for many years, the track had self-seeded and turned into a meadow full of wildflowers and fauna. Two neighborhood activists created the group that lobbied successfully to turn the space into a city park -- choosing a design inspired by its former wild state. (Alas, in order to make the track strong enough to support the park, the soil had to be completely removed, then restored and planted anew. If you want to know what the track used to look like, check out Joe Sternfeld's photographs here.)
March is not the best time to see the High Line, but even with its meadows turned to winter straw, its wildflowers sleeping and its birch trees bare, it's a beautiful, cleverly rendered space...reminding me a bit of Bordertown in its unusual mix of the urban and the wild. I fell for it hard, envy those who live nearby, and look forward to returning in greener seasons.
"New York remains what it has always been : a city of ebb and flow, a city of constant shifts of population and economics, a city of virtually no rest. It is harsh, dirty, and dangerous, it is whimsical and fanciful, it is beautiful and soaring - it is not one or another of these things but all of them, all at once, and to fail to accept this paradox is to deny the reality of city existence." - Paul Goldberger