During my trip to New York, I made a visit to the High Line, surely one of the more interesting urban parks in the world. The park swings through West Chelsea and neighboring areas of the city, running along a disused elevated train line. The old tracks are still in place, forming the backdrop to varied plantings of native and ornamental plants. A wide walkway runs the length of the park, liberally scattered with benches and overlooks. I’d read about the park many times and was eager to visit.
The elevation of the park gives a feeling of both separation (walking above the streets) and connection (seeing roofs and buildings up close). As a New Yorker friend told me, “now you know what it feels like to be a pigeon.”
Ornithological insight is not the only fruit of this remarkable project. What was a derelict and ugly piece of infrastructure has become a thing of beauty. The affinity that people feel for the park is reflected in the many nearby ads for real estate. The creators of the park have created desirable habitat for Homo sapiens, it seems.
The unspoken rules among walkers on the High Line are more congenial than those of the world below. This is a place where ambling is OK — a verb that gets trampled in the surrounding streets.