The High Line is 1.5 miles of lush urban park on an elevated walkway on the lower East Side of New York City. Rebuilding an abandoned railroad track that snakes above 20 city blocks, architects, artists, and horticulturists have worked together over the past 13 years to design an experience that stirs the soul and excites the senses.
Thirty-five weather-resistant folks enjoyed a cold, rainy day in the park on June 2. The elements of architecture subtly suggest a change of pace: wider steps leading from street level to the elevated walkway, a sundeck with rows of chaises longues, plenty of benches, and off-the-path overlooks and lush niches combine to encourage a slower pace and a time of relaxed enjoyment.
While identifying countless plants can be a fun exercise, that there were no plant I.D. tags gave me permission to just take it in and appreciate the whole spectacle from the right side of my brain! We learned in advance about the creation and execution of the park while watching a film on the bus, including that the High Line is designed to please, educate and stimulate the public through all the seasons.
We were in awe of the different elements of art and design that create an amazing array of color and texture: woodlands, grasslands, preserved wild areas, a bog, native plants, birds and wildlife, site-specific sculptures, lawns, and wildflower fields.
The High Line leads organically from one region to the next. The appearance and disappearance of the original railroad tracks and wood ties create a sense of continual movement and continuity as the path winds its way over a bustling and rapidly developing part of the city.
The old meatpacking district now supports high-end businesses, great restaurants, museums, and galleries that made our six hours in the city a big adventure.
Suggestion: Go there!
Here are a few resources to whet your appetite:
- On The High Line, (Annik LaFarge, Thames and Hudson, 2012)
- Plants along the trail
- Plant list
- General info
by Anna Harding
Arboretum docent naturalist, Maryland Master Naturalist