High Line Blog

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Author: 
Erika Harvey
EnlargeWest Side Improvement Project

In celebration of our new 18-month High Line Calendar, we’re exploring each month’s featured image to bring you more of the behind-the-scenes details.

In 1934, the initial stage of the West Side Improvement Project was completed: a shining new elevated viaduct was unveiled, connecting New York Central Railroad’s freight line with Manhattan’s West Side. This great engineering achievement eliminated 105 street-level railroad crossings and allowed manufacturing and food processing buildings flanking the railway to connect directly with its train cars to load and unload freight.

At the southern terminus of the High Line was a new St. John’s Park Freight Terminal at Spring Street. This massive new building allowed for 150 standing train cars, a leap ahead to support increasing manufacturing demands on the neighborhood’s businesses.

This month’s photo, at right, appeared in a 1934 promotional brochure detailing the West Side Improvement Project. Looking north along the new – and to-date unused – tracks of the High Line, anticipation was building for the debut of the new elevated railways. New York Central Railroad wrote about the project in their brochure:

Author: 
Karla Osorio-Perez

We'd like to thank our High Line Volunteers for everything they did to support Friends of the High Line in 2013! Their help in the maintenance and programming of the park was crucial to keeping the High Line an extraordinary space for New Yorkers and City visitors. More than 200 volunteers aided the High Line in different capacities – guiding tours, tending the plants, welcoming park visitors at an information desk, cleaning design features, assisting High Line staff during public programs (on the park and in the neighborhood!),answering visitor questions, keeping records in the office, taking beautiful photographs, removing snow, and more. We couldn't have done so much this year without the help and dedication of this extraordinary group of people. Thank you!

Here is a compilation of photos and quotes from this incredible year. We hope you enjoy them.

Author: 
Adam Dooling
Prairie dock on the High LinePrairie dock, Silphium terebinthinaceum, can reach 10 feet in height. Photo by Friends of the High Line

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

This week we share one of our gardeners’ current favorites with you.

Author: 
Erika Harvey
Two visitors enjoy a morning stroll despite the rain. Photo by Timothy Schenck

Photographer Timothy Schenck captured this vibrant autumn photo this morning as a light rain fell on the Chelsea neighborhood. Peering out from between the trees in the 10th Avenue Square, on the High Line at West 17th Street, Tim’s photo captures a north-facing view of the park’s fall foliage and our newest High Line Billboard at West 18th Street.

Contrasting with the overcast day, Thomas Demand’s new High Line Billboard installation, High Line, offers an unwavering bright patch of blue sky next to the park. This seemingly simple poetic image of an empty clothesline is actually a photograph of a meticulously constructed paper and cardboard replica of these everyday objects.

The large billboard format, which High Line Art Curator & Director Cecilia Alemani has used to augment the presence and impact of artworks, creates an interesting interaction with park goers and sparks the imagination. Clotheslines are both familiar and exotic – in the sense that they are recognizable, but don’t quite fit into our 21st-century city-dwelling existence. (Maybe a more Manhattan-centric version could involve quarter slots or a drop-off laundry reference?)

However you choose to interpret and enjoy the new High Line Billboard, it’s not a bad thing to be reminded of a summer breeze on an idyllic countryside, especially on rainy days like today. Stop by soon – this High Line Billboard will be on view until Monday, December 2, 2013.

Author: 
Clay Grable
Photo by Andrew FraszLooking north into the Chelsea Market Passage, the former site of the Nabisco building, at dawn. Photo by Andrew Frasz

First-time High Line visitors may wonder: Does this park run into that building? Does this park go through that building? The High Line does, in fact, run through a handful of buildings. For those who expected their walk to be an exclusively outdoor affair, this impromptu inside view can prove surprising. But what really makes this arrangement so arresting is not the invasion of these buildings’ interiors, but rather those buildings’ accommodation of the High Line.

The truth is that most of these buildings were constructed alongside the High Line specifically to integrate with it. This design allowed the freight trains that ran goods along the High Line to stop in on the second level of these buildings for easy loading and unloading. Originally, many buildings welcomed the High Line inside their loading docks high above the street. Today, the High Line runs through only two buildings that were originally built to host trains: the Cudahy Packing Company building and the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) building.

Author: 
Adam Dooling
Flameleaf sumacAs its name suggests, the flameleaf sumac (Rhus copallinum) turns a brilliant red in autumn. Photo by Friends of the High Line

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

This week we share one of our gardeners’ current favorites with you.

Author: 
Amelia Krales
Photo by Mike TschappatAutumn has begun to turn the leaves of the Brownies hairy alumroot, Heuchera villosa 'Brownies.' Photo by Mike Tschappat

High Line Photographer Mike Tschappat took this wonderfully moody image of a deep red-brown Brownies hairy alumroot during a recent early morning photo walk. Fall has arrived on the High Line and the vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows are wonderful to see. The crisp air and brilliant sun should stay with us through the weekend.

On Saturday, enjoy the foliage and stay for some Halloween fun. From 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, we'll be hosting our fourth-annual Haunted High Line Halloween, featuring a variety of spooky activities throughout the park.

Author: 
Jennette Mullaney
High Line Co-Founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond accept the Vincent Scully PrizeHigh Line Co-Founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond accept the Vincent Scully Prize at Washington D.C.'s National Building Museum. Photo by Emily Clack Photography

On September 30, Friends of the High Line Co-Founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond were awarded the prestigious Vincent Scully Prize by the National Building Museum for their work in creating our park in the sky. Joshua and Robert were the fifteenth recipients of the prize, which recognizes exemplary scholarship, criticism, or practice in architecture, historic preservation, or urban design.

As part of the award ceremony, Joshua and Robert gave an original talk, "Harnessing Friction," in which they recall their efforts to create a new kind of public space in the High Line. During the speech, they explore the many qualities that make the High Line unique. "Generally, in a park you seek to escape the city," says Joshua. "The High Line was designed to celebrate its urban condition and the built environment that surrounds it," he adds. Below, view a video of speech, which also includes an opening tribute by last year's recipient – the Pulitzer Prize–winning architecture critic Paul Goldberger – and a question-and-answer session with Joshua and Robert.

There are many choice quotes from the ceremony, but perhaps the most inspiring comes from someone who was present only in spirit. Joshua and Robert conclude "Harnessing Friction" with a quote by the great urbanist Jane Jacobs, herself a winner of Vincent Scully Prize: "Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody only because, and only when, they are created by everybody."

Author: 
Erika Harvey
Northern Spur PreserveHigh Line Gardeners working to apply beneficial nematodes on the Northern Spur Preserve earlier this season. Photo by Timothy Schenck

To the untrained – a category most of us citygoers fall into – gardens look pretty inert. However, beyond the beautiful blooms and verdant leaves of your common garden, a whole ecosystem of life is orbiting around the plants.

A sparrow here, and a mockingbird there. Then there are the large beneficial bugs: worms aerating the soil, and spiders, lady beetles, and praying mantises munching on some of plants’ worst pests. Soil itself is packed with minerals, organic matter, and very importantly, a whole host of tiny and even microscopic organisms. A teaspoon of soil may contain up to a billion bacteria, many of which are beneficial to the garden ecosystem. All these critters together help support healthy soil and healthy plants, making plants more resistent to diseases and pests.

Learn more about how High Line Gardeners keep the park healthy after the jump.

Author: 
Kat Widing
Basim Magdy, Time Laughs Back at You Like a Sunken Ship, 2012. (Video Still) Super 8 film transferred to HD video. 9 min. 31 sec. Courtesy Newman Popiashvili Gallery.
 

Help fuel the artistic energy on the High Line this month with our weekly #SolarPanel! Organized in conjunction with High Line Art's curated video series, Solar, on view now at High Line Channel 14, we are facilitating a Q&A session between High Line Art Curator & Director, Cecilia Alemani, and the artists – Rosa Barba, Camille Henrot, Basim Magdy, and Neïl Beloufa – over High Line Art's Twitter account, @HighLineArtNYC. The Twitter conversations will occur in four installments, featuring one artist per week. The artists’ fascinating answers will offer a unique perspective into the inspiration, process, and themes manifest in their work. The following day, we will post the full interviews (packed with even more juicy information) on the High Line Art's Tumblr blog.

Read more after the break.

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