High Line Blog

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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.

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.

Adam Dooling
pink muhly grassIn autumn, the flowers of the pink muhly grass have a feathered, cloud-like appearance. 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.

Amelia Krales
Transplanting tassel ferns on the High LineHigh Line Gardener Orrin Sheehan and Volunteer Lebasi Lashley work along the Philip A. and Lisa Maria Falcone Flyover. Photos by Friends of the High Line

Approximately 360 species of perennial plants flourish on the High Line and are cared for by a team of dedicated High Line Gardeners and volunteers.

Most of this planting activity on the High Line takes place in the spring and fall. Last week, High Line Gardener Orrin Sheehan transplanted tassel ferns, Polystichum polyblepharum, taking them from dry spots and relocating them to more heavily watered areas. On this particular day, he and High Line Volunteer Lebasi Lashley also planted a few wild ginger, Asarum canadense, and barrenwort, Epimedium grandiflorum, plants along the same beds beneath the Falcone Flyover.

Volunteers work alongside High Line Gardeners throughout the year to keep the High Line beautiful. We are so thankful for all of our volunteers and their enormous efforts.

For more information about what is growing on the High Line, plan your visit and take along our October Bloom List.

Ana Nicole Rodriguez
Photo by FHL Left: Joel Horowitz and David Carrell, co-owners of People’s Pops, stand at the entrance of their kitchen in Brooklyn. Right: Specialty pumpkin-pie pops with whipped cream are available on the High Line through October 27. Photo by Friends of the High Line

At last, after a whole season in the field, fall crops start surfacing – apples, winter squash, and our personal favorite, pumpkins. Inspired by the autumn harvest, we headed into Brooklyn to show you how People's Pops makes their celebrated pumpkin-pie pops. These small-batch pops taste precisely like pumpkin pie on a stick. They’re addictive too, and you can taste them for yourself on the High Line through October 27. Follow us after the jump to see step-by-step how they’re made, and learn why sourcing with the seasons is important to Joel Horowitz, co-founder of People’s Pops.

Clay Grable
West Side Cowboy on Death AvenueThe wardens of Death Avenue, working tirelessly to ensure the safety of the people on the street, were none other than the West Side Cowboys. (Although some clearly didn't heed the warnings.) Photographer unknown

Before the High Line became the park in the sky, before it was abandoned, before trains ran goods along its once thirteen-mile length, before its massive, trunk-like beams sprouted from the cobblestones to suspend its metal canopy above the streets below, the West Side of New York churned with reckless energy. Freight trains ran at grade up and down the middle of 10th Avenue, tracks inserted between cobbles, to ferry goods to and from the factories of the Meatpacking District. This interplay of heavy machinery and humanity proved a dangerous mix; the stretch of road became known as “Death Avenue.”

On December 4, 1850, City Council passed a law that created not only a safer 10th Avenue, but also one of the most storied figures in the history of New York: the West Side Cowboys. These men, as the law dictated, rode on horseback before oncoming trains to warn passers-by of their approach. Waving a red flag by day and a red lantern by night, the West Side Cowboys – also known as 10th Avenue Cowboys – protected pedestrians for over 90 years, until their final ride in 1941. At its height, the corps of Cowboys comprised twelve riders and twice as many horses to provide perpetual protection. By the end, though, there was just a single rider and his steed left.

Jennette Mullaney

We have exciting news to share with you. After completing an extensive search, it is our great pleasure to introduce Jenny Gersten, who will be joining Friends of the High Line as its Executive Director in January. Jenny will replace Robert Hammond, who earlier this year announced his plans to step down from the Executive Director position at the end of 2013. Joshua David will remain with Friends of the High Line as its President and will be working closely with Jenny in her role as Executive Director.

We are incredibly fortunate to have found an accomplished leader in Jenny, who has a proven track record of success in program development, non-profit management, and fundraising for arts and culture organizations. As the Artistic Director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival, where she has worked since 1996, Jenny helped create and oversee the organization’s long-range strategic plan and $7 million endowment fund. She also managed a vast professional development and training program for more than 200 apprentices, interns, and professional staff. Before the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Jenny served as the Associate Producer of The Public Theater in New York City, where she produced six Shakespeare in the Park productions.

Adam Dooling
Photo by Friends of the High LineThe yellow flowers of the swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) are a beautiful sight on the High Line 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 with you one of our gardeners’ current favorites.

Amelia Krales
Photo by Oliver RichThis month, Tuesday evenings are best spent gazing at the stars on the High Line. Photo by Oliver Rich

Come observe the celestial bodies above the High Line. On Tuesday evenings through the end of the month, the Amateur Astronomers Association will set up their high-powered telescopes to provide visitors an opportunity to get an up-close-and-personal look at the stars and planets. Stargazing on the High Line is a free program, so take advantage of one of the final three opportunities of the season.

High Line Photographer Oliver Rich took this photo earlier in the season using a tripod and a long exposure to capture the movement of people while keeping the stationary objects tack-sharp. Thank you, Oliver, for this wonderful image!

For more about this program and our other upcoming programs for adults and kids alike, visit the High Line Events page.

Jennette Mullaney
Photo by Liz LigonFreshkills Park Administrator Eloise Hirsh spoke eloquently about the former-landfill turned oasis. "Like the High Line, it is a park of the 21st century," she said of Freshkills. Photo by Liz Ligon

How do we transform a once-notorious landfill into a beautiful New York City park?

On Monday, September 23, we hosted a discussion on the metamorphosis of Staten Island's Fresh Kills Landfill – once the largest landfill in the world – into Freshkills Park, a 2,200-acre oasis. James Corner of James Corner Field Operations and Eloise Hirsh of the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation spoke about the incredible changes they've been making to this site since the landfill closed in 2001.

James Corner Field Operations, the lead on the High Line's design team, is also leading the design of Freshkills Park. Corner discussed the unique challenges he's faced on this project, as well as the park's many idiosyncrasies. "If Freshkills is to be a living, and dynamic, and changing, and growing landscape, in a sense it never has a finished state," he remarked.

As the administrator of Freshkills Park, Hirsh has also witnessed the former landfill's about-face, and spoke eloquently of the site's transformation. "It is the most elegant testimony to the strength of nature that you can possibly imagine," said Hirsh. She also underscored the park's commitment to sustainability, describing their use of animal husbandry and green building.

Watch our full-length video of the talk below. For more images of the landfill-turned-park, see our recent photo essay.