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Originally published June 7, 2011 at 3:04 PM | Page modified June 7, 2011 at 7:29 PM

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NYC opens new High Line section with lush lawn

The ribbon was cut Tuesday on the long-awaited second section of Manhattan's High Line park, revealing a lush green lawn, prime lounging spots and a less-industrial feel than the original stretch of the famous park built on abandoned railroad tracks 30 feet above ground.

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NEW YORK — The ribbon was cut Tuesday on the long-awaited second section of Manhattan's High Line park, revealing a lush green lawn, prime lounging spots and a less-industrial feel than the original stretch of the famous park built on abandoned railroad tracks 30 feet above ground.

The new section ends at 30th Street, adding 10 blocks and doubling the length to one mile. The first segment opened in June 2009 and runs from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street.

The park meandering through some of Manhattan's hippest neighborhoods is already a superstar attraction with 2 million visitors a year. If you plan to be among them, here are some High Line secrets and unique features to look for, along with some history.

History: Freight traffic in the area began on street level in 1847, delivering dairy, meat and produce to factories and packing plants on the West Side near the Hudson River. The trains crashed so often with traffic — first carriages, then cars — that 10th Avenue was dubbed "Death Avenue" and the tracks were elevated in 1934.

In the 1950s and '60s, interstate trucking diminished the need for the High Line. through in 1980. The High Line was left to the weeds until a massive rezoning effort and the nonprofit Friends of the High Line, which runs the park, turned things around.

The city, which owns the property, invested $112.2 million of the $153 million cost, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the park has since generated $2 billion in private investment with big names like fashion's Diane von Furstenberg and architect Frank Gehry among the pioneers. Nearby neighborhoods have been revitalized; art galleries, boutiques, eateries and hotels abound.

The tracks: Hundreds of feet of actual track run the entire length of the High Line. The track was carefully marked as it was pulled up for park construction so it could be placed in its original spots.

Some of the track sits above the pavement, with flowers poking through. Other pieces are embedded in the park's concrete planked walkway that with gently sloping benches and narrow water fountains was designed to evoke High Line track.

Meatpacking: At 13th Street, look west for a line of large metal brackets on top of an adjacent building. The brackets once anchored meat hooks along one of the High Line's widest sections, where trains pulled off on a spur to unload. Once home to more than 250 slaughterhouses, the area still houses some meatpacking companies.

The sex hotel: OK, it's not really called that. It's The Standard at 13th Street, a 337-room, 18-floor hotel that is the only commercial building straddling the High Line. With floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the park, it became famous for guests engaging in hanky-panky in full view of the High Line baby stroller crowd soon after the park opened.

Word is the hotel now has cards in each room asking guests to be more discreet.

Views: From the High Line you can see the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. You might even catch a high flyer through the screen windows of the Trapeze School New York at 30th Street.

Art installations: You'll experience Julianne Swartz's "Digital Empathy" project at 11 locations throughout the park, including water fountains, bathroom sinks and elevators. A computer-generated voice will recite poetry and messages of concern, support and love like "You are a winner." The project will be there through spring 2012.

A plaza at the High Line's 30th Street terminus hosts Rainbow City, a collection of colorful striped inflatable sculptures, through the summer. The urban playground for kids and adults looks like something out of Dr. Seuss; it's sponsored by AOL and was created by an art collective called Friends With You.

Nature: American Holly trees, pussy willows, magnolia and winterberry bushes are High Line newcomers in the second section. So is reclaimed teak seating that includes the curved, block-long radial bench starting at 29th Street. The teak comes from industrial and agricultural buildings that were demolished in southeast Asia.

The new section also has 4,900 square feet of green lawn from 22nd to 23rd streets. And yes, you can sit on it. That's the point.

Visitor info: The High Line is gloriously free, and with the opening of the new section, evening hours will run to 11 p.m. all summer. (In winter, it closes at 8 p.m.) The High Line opens at 7 a.m. year-round. Early morning is least crowded.

Friends of the High Line has maps, history and more: www.thehighline.org

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