|the High Line in the 1930s|
|looking out from the High Line today|
First, let me say that I cannot adequately describe its design and the mysterious pull it has on the walker. James Golden has done that so much better than I ever could. His long and thoughtful blog post is worth reading to really get the High Line's fascinating features. Click on the link, you might like his detailed review as much as I enjoy poring over it.
I can just offer some random personal observations, which is all my blog has ever been about anyway.
Random observation number one: this park is all about the garden in time, evolving and changed. That experience of transformation is what fascinates me about any garden, including my own.
Before it was a park, before it was designed and planted by Piet Oudolf and well known landscape designers, before there were elegant sweeps of grasses, copses of small trees and benches and paths and a bricked stream to wade in, it was a wasteland.
|this is what nature planted, as seen in the 1990s|
These photos from Joel Sternfeld are on the High Line Park's website, and they show what it looked like in the 1990s.
There are many wonderful galleries on the web site that show historical photos of the railroad when it was in use, then in its abandoned disrepair as the wild meadow took over, the planting and revival, and what it looks like now.
|grasses and wildflowers are planted in the park now|
Random observation number two: before the park restoration, it was an eyesore. It was beautiful. It was both.
That's the essence of gardens: your weedy mess is another's lovely natural space. Converting the meadowy abandoned tracks into a public park with sculptures, walkways, artificial plantings and seating was not without controversy.
But having seen it myself, I can now say they did it well. The Oudoulf aesthetic of grasses and prairie flowers, motion and soft colors makes it look only a step or two modified from the remarkable natural system that had established itself. This is not a flowery cottage garden and it is certainly not a formal clipped hedge park. It's sort of the same weedy natural space that was there, but now walkable and easily viewed.
The tracks were preserved and they are embedded in the wooden walkways and stone paths, or simply left among low ornamental grasses.
|the tracks are preserved throughout|
|asters nestle in the grasses|
|from some angles it's not so different from the wild meadow that was there|
Random observation number three: strolling around in the park is relaxing and disorienting at the same time. You're up high, surrounded by even higher buildings, looking down on lower buildings and cars. It's all wild, but it's all man made. The exquisite tension of a really interesting garden is in full display here--- it is wildly natural and extremely artificial at the same time.
|from High Line web site|
|magnolias and shrubs|
|oak trees up here. Really?|
|from High Line web site|
Random observation number four: it doesn't get any better than being squired about the big city by your amazingly competent adult children. When did they grow up to be such interesting people?
You know, that is the real wish come true.