Astronomy is cool, you guys. So when the earth passed between Jupiter and the Sun a couple weeks ago, I wasn’t about to miss it. Fortunately, the High Line Park played host to the Amateur Astronomers Association, whose members schlepped their big-ass telescopes to the Meatpacking District so commoners like me, Eva, and my friends Maya, Emily and Harriet could look at Jupiter in all its many-mooned glory.
The brilliant work of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the High Line is built upon the old elevated train tracks on the west side of lower Manhattan, out of use since 1980. Construction on the park didn’t begin until 2006, and the intervening years saw the abandoned tracks reclaimed by nature, inspiring calls for its destruction. But as Alan Weisman eloquently writes in The World Without Us (which is a great book, by the way):
So many New Yorkers, glancing down from windows in Chelsea’s art district, were moved by the sight of this untended, flowering green ribbon, prophetically and swiftly laying claim to a dead slice of their city, that it was dubbed the High Line and officially designated a park.
Now open to the public (partially, a big northern chunk is still under construction), the High Line re-imagines traditional notions of urban public space and challenges our very definition “park.” Architecturally, it’s a gorgeous space– mixing poured concrete, steel, rusted iron, wood, and glass, and then setting these industrial materials against indigenous plants (which, admittedly, were destroyed during the revitalization and replanted with a nod towards an untended, natural aesthetic). It’s an embodiment of the type of urban planning so often discussed but so rarely acted upon: the clever reuse of an unutilized space that embraces its physical limitations while beautifully maximizing its potential for leisure, recreation, a quiet stroll, a private view, a public display. If you live in New York and haven’t been, go. If you’re planning a trip, work it into your itinerary… if for no other reason than to get yourself out of Midtown. It’s super beautiful in the daytime or at night, and WAY different depending on what time of day you go; I might be partial to night. I’ll stop babbling. Let’s just look at some pretty stuff.
These benches! Poured concrete, wood slats, steel support.
One of the bi-level bits that goes through a building. The blue neon is awesome at night.
The Frank Gehry IAC building. Definitely awesome.
Possibly my favorite part of the park, this large seating area sits directly above 10th Avenue. This is one of four enormous glass panels.
I promise I’ll get back to the regularly scheduled programming of before-and-afters, DIYs, and recent acquisitions very soon. It’s been a whole week! The shame.