Monday, November 9, 2009

The Highline

The Highline is Manhattan's newest urban park. It is on the bed of the elevated rail line that has been closed and unused for decades along the far West Side from the center of the West Village up to 20th street [it will eventually go to 34th or so] This formerly desolate bit of odd real estate was a long stretch of rusting rails and weeds of all sorts, seeded by bird and rat dropping and heaven knows what else. The flora has been left, there is no prettied up plantings. So these dried weeds, looking sculptural are natural there.

One of the most spectacular new buildings along the way is this Frank Gehry office building with a magnificent view of the Hudson and the harbor. No two sides are the same, as is Gehry's style. We are becoming accustomed to the idea that buildings don't have to be geometrically regular. In fact, Gehry's curving buildings are adding excitement all over the world. This one is relatively restrained compared to some of his art museums and concert halls.

These daisies are just a few of the hearty flowers still looking good the first weekend of November -- there were some weedy blue flowers that were absolutely spectacular [no photo, alas] I was in NYC for just some 40 hours but packed a lot in, including this walk on the Highline with what seemed like a large portion of the population. It was a magnificent blue sky day with temperatures around 60. I had never known that part of the city, when I first moved to NYC nearly 30 years ago it was a place a woman did not go alone -- nor, for that matter, did anyone who didn't have a connection with someone there. Now, just north of the Highline, over the last 15 or fewer years most of the art galleries that were in Soho, and many that are newish have moved into the west 20s. They've totally changed the neighborhood. There was time for looking at several, including seeing David Hockney's wildly vivid landscapes of his home area in England -- this is a man who is not becoming more conservative as he ages. He's getting bolder and brighter. There were two new Frank Stella steel constructions, hugh mazes which awe even as they cause claustrophobia. And a couple of shows by people whose names were unknown to me but who had fascinating work.

This is just one opportunity to look between the buildings at the river and New Jersey across the way. I'm told the park is lighted with low lights within the weeds at night and closes at some point. Like all good NYC public spaces there are many benches and toward the middle is a snack vender and quite a lot of seating, including in one strip with wooden chaises such as are sometimes found on beaches, wide enough for couples to sit side by side and sun. It's a thoroughly delightful place. Another reason to love NYC, another reason, although I don't need to pile up the reasons, to return whenever I can manage it.

1 comment:

Kass said...

This is a must for my next visit. Thanks for letting me know about it. I just looked up (on google maps) one of the buildings I lived in in the 70's called the Chatsworth on West 72nd and they've built a huge building next to it and around the corner. It's now called Chatsworth Realty. I love coming back to New York City. It's one of my touchstones for how I'm adjusting to reality.