Like a lot of fans of the High Line, the opening of the first section a day early was a welcome surprise. It surpassed any hype that I had put on it myself. But to be honest I would have been happy with just about anything that gives a walking path with a new view of New York City that hasn’t existed before. I’ve also been following the construction for the past three years when I moved here. Back when they had limited public tours of one of the more northern sections I jumped all over that experience. I was also fortunate some time back to hear Diller Scofidio + Renfro talk about the High Line in the IAC building. That culmination of background experiences made the walk that much more fun for me.
After hearing about people being allowed on the High Line a day early all over Twitter I made the trek from Soho to the Meat Packing district around 7.30 pm which in hindsight was the perfect time to visit. There’s still a lot of daylight to take in the whole first section. As the sun slowly sets the lights around the High Line and city, new views appear. Colours pop in a different way and the tone is a different kind of chill from the regular day time experience.
As I was walking and taking pictures every couple feet there was a couple themes I was looking for and came across a couple unexpected contrasts. First and foremost I was looking to see how the High Line integrated a pathway with constructed foliage that was there as a nod to the natural habitat that had grown from years of neglect and the steel rail road. In some parts of the walkway there’s a really great balance of all three elements while elsewhere it does feel a bit concrete heavy. This is especially true walking south to north through the Chelsea Market building, though there’s a great view of the IAC building clustered with a couple other buildings the to the north west. One of the unexpected themes was the contrast between complicated angles and very clean simple lines.
An almost too obvious thing to consider but worth bringing up is how does the city look from the view on the High Line? Depending where a person is standing or sitting there’s a lot of clusters of area that become unique blocks—no kidding when considering the size of New York but when a person considers that the High Line that’s open only runs a couple blocks is quite a visual feast. There’s the gritty side, there’s the flashy architecture side, there’s the historic side, there’s the the Empire State Building side and then there’s the Jersey side (which isn’t too bad either). Something that shouldn’t have come up as a surprise yet was, was all the construction cranes jetting up. For a moment it was easy to forget that there was an economic melt down and that progress via construction was still going strong.
While the High Line is meant to be walked, it’s also meant to be a place to sit and relax. There were a ton of places that I was scoping out to visit again with a book. A person would be hard pressed to find a bad spot to sit down though I suspect one of the most popular sports will be where people can put up their feet on the long wooden chaise’s. I enjoyed sitting there for a while. The theatre seating is another stroke of genius. In it’s current state I would be surprised if I saw more then die hard runners moving by quickly on the pathway. It seems like it would be more effort then warranted to run a short distance on the High Line though once the entire route is open that will probably change. As some people have mentioned, dogs aren’t welcome up there. I have a dog and to be honest I don’t really mind that much. My opinion on that could change but at the moment it wasn’t the first thing I was thinking about as I was walking.
As other sections of the High Line open up, I’m really looking forward to seeing how the pathway changes my perspective of the city. As the news hype over the next couple of days grows I’ve created a page powered by Daylife that has all the High Line articles out there. That can be viewed at http://topics.designnotes.info/page/highline. I also have more photos of my first walk through on flickr at www.flickr.com/photos/michaelsurtees/sets/72157619404502549.