WASHINGTON, June 19, 2016 – F. Scott Fitzgerald said New York is a city “in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.” A little of that wild promise and beauty winds 1.5 miles through the city’s towers of steel and glass, suspended 30-feet above its hurried streets by steel beams and binding rivets.
It is what remains of the New York Central Railroad’s 1929 West Side Line, a stretch of elevated track that is today’s High Line park.
This example of urban reuse is the brainchild of landscape architect James Corner, who took inspiration from nature’s powers of reclamation, building on existing shrubs and trees growing amid the decaying rail ties of the abandoned viaduct.
Like any rail line, the park has various stops along the way. Its northern entrance at West 49th Street leads strollers to the Interim Walkway, with its views of the Hudson River.
And don’t be surprised if you hear the clatter of camera shutters as photographers shoot fashion models striking poses of aloof indifference while equally disinterested pedestrians pass them on the Falcone Flyover.
A tiered amphitheater at the 10th Avenue Square and Overlook gives visitors views of bustling traffic to the north, while providing glimpses of the Hudson and Statue of Liberty to the south.
Along the Chelsea Thicket, seek shelter from the harsh sun by ducking under the protective canopy provided by dogwoods, bottlebrush buckeye and dense shrubs.
The Chelsea Market Passage provides an opportunity to purchase a cold drink and food from cart vendors or an open-air café.
Being so close to Chelsea’s gallery district, the art lover can enjoy temporary installations along the elevated promenade, like Tony Martelli’s “Wanderlust”: a life-sized, super-realistic, flesh-colored bronze of a man sleepwalking in nothing but his underwear – what a nearby plaque appropriately describes as “an amusing take on the theme of walking.”
But the loveliest and most practical art object of this urban park for the tired trekker is the water feature running along the eastern edge of the Diller-Von Furstenberg Sundeck.
Take off your shoes, sit on a bench and dip your tired, hot feet into the cool running waters of this shallow wading pool. Then let the breeze rising off the Hudson whistle through your wet toes as you luxuriate on one of many oversized lounge chairs.
Having thus cooled your heels, you will be more than ready to prowl the corridors of what waits below the southern terminus of the High Line park: The Whitney Museum of American Art.