I well remember the crumbling elevated rail (the Hi-Line) from 34th street to the warehouses, bakeries and docks 13 miles down Manhattan. To my teenage eyes in the 1960’s it was all part of the look and aromas of the exotic multi-ethnic, working class warrens of Chelsea and lower Manhattan. Forty years later the area still retains a touch of the exotic even if its present day residents vacation in the ancestral countries, eat in the upscale ethnic restaurants and live in multi-million dollar condos.
The 1929 Hi-Line rail link ceased in 1980 and crumbled until gentrified Chelsea residents created the Friends of the Hi-Line in 1999. In just ten years, this dynamic organization cut through the bureaucracy, gained powerful supporters, financial backers and opened the first of three sections of what is a unique urban elevated park.
The High-Line’s design is a deft melding of urban chic, live performance art, natural landscaping incorporating the essential rail road backbone, art installations, arts & crafts, cafe stalls and a tiered public plaza overlooking Tenth Ave.
Valerie Hegarty’s art installation actually hangs on the fence that separates Section One from continuing construction on the remainder of the park. A stroll on a pleasant autumn weekend afternoon was relaxing and stimulating in only a way great urban centers create. Yet where Central Park hides the visitor from the city, the High-Line provides a panoramic view.
Even if you just need to walk the ten blocks from Gansevoort Street on 10th Avenue in Chelsea up to 20th Street, then why not use the Hi-Line rather than street level. You might even meet up with a …oh wait…that was the 1960’s. This doll’s a great 1930’s jazz singer, on the Hi-Line.