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Back in the High Line Again

by habituallychic

07 . 12 . 09

I had a meeting with my website designer this week at Pastis so I thought it was the perfect time to visit the new High Line park and I’m so glad that I did! I live uptown with all of Central Park as my backyard so I really had no idea what to expect from a park on an old elevated railway downtown but I was blown away by it’s thoughtful design.

The High Line was originally constructed in the 1930’s to elevate dangerous freight trains that served the warehouses in the area off the streets of Manhattan. It was used up until 1980 and thereafter fell into a state of disrepair with weeds growing up through the old rails. It wasn’t until 1999 that redevelopment was suggested. In 2004 the fund were allotted and finally in June 2009 part of the new High Line park was opened.

The High Line park will eventually run from Ganesvoort Street in the Meatpacking District all the way to 34th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. Right now, it is only open from Ganesvoort Street to 20th Street from 7:00am to 10:00pm. I’ve joked before that 10th Avenue is no man’s land. The only things over there in addition to the chic galleries are gas stations, garages and parking lots, things associated with cars since you need one to get there so the High Line park is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

The High Line was led by James Corner Field Operations with Diller Scofidio + Renfro who did an amazing job combining the old elements with the new. The wildflowers and plantings mimic the types of plants that would have grown up on the derelict railway.

The plantings look pretty now in the summer and will look even more beautiful next spring!

The grooved areas are meant to look like the rails that still remain in some other areas.

I really loved the benches and wood areas. I’m not easily impressed but I was very impressed by the overall design of the park. I also love that it changes from area to area but is still cohesive.

The views from the elevated park are the best part.

Here you can see how the park still meanders through the old warehouses that have probably been converted to offices and galleries.

The juxtaposition of the new walkways and benches with the old railings and wildflowers is a lovely combination.

Except for the buildings in the background, it’s easy to forget that you are in the middle of a bustling city!

This area is the Chelsea Market Art Passage/Public Art Program and also serves as a shady area to escape the sunshine.

I had no idea that the colored panes in this space which was the former Nabisco Factory were an art piece until I read the accompanying sign. “The River that Flows Both Way” was created by artist Spencer Finch and consists of panes of colored glass whose color was derived from 700 photographs that he took of the Hudson River’s surface. The color of each pane was based on a single pixel point in each photograph and arranged chronologically in the tunnel’s existing steel mullions. The title of the piece is a translation of the the Native American name of the Hudson that refers to the river’s natural flow in two directions.

The result is even more amazing in real life and reminds me of the stained glass windows in the finest cathedrals!

Another amazing view from the High Line!

The Sundeck area and it’s fabulous lounge chairs is one of the most popular areas as I can personally attest! I took a little break to enjoy the sun and watch all the passersby.

The High Line is a very popular place for all the neighborhood gallery girls and guys to eat their lunch!

The Meatpacking District is still a little gritty despite the fancy shops so the park is a nice respite from the concrete jungle. I was surprised how peaceful it is when you are up there. You really can’t hear the usual sounds of the city such as car horns or sirens.

Here you can see how the rails become part of the design.

The elevated park gives you an amazing view of the city including 14th Street here.

Here the planting sprout up in the middle of the walkway underneath the new Standard Hotel.

It was funny to see beautiful flowers above while men were loading trucks in the Meatpacking District below!

It will be interesting to see how the look of the park changes from season to season!

More views of the tracks and wooden “ties”.

Even a roof below has gotten into the act and is covered with flowers!

The Standard Hotel looks really amazing when seen from below. If you stay there, you really do need to close the shades if you don’t want to be seen!

The High Line park is a great place to read a book!

Another view of an inspired bench design!

From this photo, you would never know you were on an old elevated railway!

The best part is that when you get hungry, you can pop down to Pastis for a gourmet lunch and possibly a celebrity sighting! Oh, and there is a Christian Louboutin store over on Hudson Street but you didn’t hear that from me!

When I was trying to come up with a witty name for this post, I kept coming back to the old Steve Winwood song, Back in the High Life. It’s amazing how the lyrics are perfect for this park in the sky that I hope everyone will make a point to see!

It used to seem to me
That my life ran on to fast
And I had to take it slowly
Just to make the good parts last
But when you’re born to run
It’s hard to just slow down
So don’t be surprised to see me
Back in that bright part of town.

I’ll be back in the high life again,
All the doors I closed one time will open up again.
I’ll be back in the high life again,
All the eyes that watched me one will smile and take me in.
And I’ll drink and dance with one hand free
Let the world back into me
And on I’ll be a sight to see
Back in the high life again.

Comments Closed

  1. style chronicle July 12, 2009 | 8:29 pm

    I recently visited this well designed public green space while in the City. My husband and I were there at sunset the view was spectacular. The park is the perfect mix of vintage structures and modern design and of urban surroundings and natural vegetation.

    Have your heard of the Renegade Cabaret? We stumbled upon it while we were there. A woman who lives on W. 20th street regularly opens up her fire escape for a mini amateur cabaret show. It is quite interesting and very New York! It has been written up in the New York Times and the Washington post.

  2. M.Lane July 12, 2009 | 9:20 pm

    Lovely post about a lovely idea! I can’t wait to visit my next trip up.


  3. Ivy Lane July 12, 2009 | 10:38 pm

    Next time I am in NYC, I am going to go check that out! Looks awesome..Thanks for sharing..

  4. MsSmart July 12, 2009 | 10:57 pm

    Oh this is great. I heard about this park last year on NPR. What a great concept. Interesting blend of nature and a city’s progress through time.

  5. La Maison Fou July 13, 2009 | 1:52 am

    I love the inner city greens, what a treat for city slickers! Be sure and stop by my Blog giveaway tomorrow!

  6. .::The Coolture Report::. July 13, 2009 | 2:14 am

    You’re a writer and an interior designer? You live my dream life.

  7. Dobbygirl July 13, 2009 | 2:18 am

    I have heard of this and I wish I still lived up there so I could visit. I’ll have to just wait until my next trip! Great post!!!

  8. Chic Coles (Cole Design) July 13, 2009 | 2:33 am

    The High Line Park is definitely on our “to do list” for NYC. We cannot wait to go check it out! Thanks for the suggestion/post!

  9. Terry July 13, 2009 | 3:29 am

    This is the best picture tour I’ve seen of the High Line. Thanks so much.

  10. NenagGal July 13, 2009 | 9:12 am

    Fantastic post – can’t wait to visit when I’m back in NY this August. Your photos are really great – glad to see the weather has improved!

  11. Blushing hostess July 13, 2009 | 9:25 am

    Now looking even more forward to getting home!

  12. Laura Casey Interiors July 13, 2009 | 12:27 pm

    such a great and interesting post. love that song too!

  13. Steve Rogers July 13, 2009 | 12:35 pm

    Heather – really great coverage on this story. I receive the NY Times everyday and they did not do as thorough of a job. Love how you covered the design elements of the park. Love your blog – keep up the great work!

  14. elly e July 13, 2009 | 1:55 pm

    I went for the first time this weekend as well and would like to say this is one of my new favorite places to watch the sunset. If you go on a Sunday you can follow it by live big band music and swing dancing at pier 13 or over to the frying pan for a true summer burger and beer (also great live music.) I love this city!

  15. mary July 13, 2009 | 2:48 pm

    Great post. New York looks so beautiful in your photos which are fantastic. Thanks.

  16. Laura [What I Like] July 13, 2009 | 5:00 pm

    Isn’t it fabulous? Apparently those colored window panes are changed periodically so the colors may be different each time you go…and I love the Standard Hotel. So 70s Miami!

  17. Camilla @ Designalogue Blog July 14, 2009 | 1:27 am

    Brilliant use of space!

  18. The Antiques Diva™ July 14, 2009 | 9:10 am

    What an interesting place!!! There’s actually someplace similiar in Paris – on top of the old aquaducts! Hmmm… I’m wondering what this park looks like in winter. I’ll be in NYC in December, but am not so certain it would be as charming in winter! Any thoughts?

  19. Mélanie July 15, 2009 | 3:09 pm

    Can’t wait to go to NYC to visit this place

  20. Southern Aspirations July 17, 2009 | 1:11 pm

    GREAT post. I was so excited to share this with my New Yorker friend… turns out she has been there many times- it’s one of her faves! Definitely need to visit and go see it!

  21. maison21 July 20, 2009 | 4:57 pm