Friday, August 31, 2012

The High Line, New York

In light of a recent high-profile criticism of the The High Line that appeared in the New York Times Op Ed section, now seems like an appropriate time to extoll the spectacular urban space that is the High Line.

The High Line is special because of the unique perspective of the city it offers its users. Adapted from a long-abandoned elevated rail line, the park literally lifts pedestrians above the street, granting them an unusual freedom of unimpeded movement across city blocks. The view is equally spectacular and unique within the city; as one moves across the linear park, the view ranges from sweeping panoramas of the Midtown Manhattan skyline to up-close-and-personal eye-level peeps through the windows of adjacent buildings that the park seems to snake around and through. Blocks west of the park in the mid-20's form a staccato of tantalizing concrete-and-brick-framed vistas of the Hudson River, and park users are offered a voyeuristic bird's eye view of busy intersections where the High Line crosses over at 10th Ave & West 17th and Washington & West 12th. Recognizing this defining appeal of the High Line as a unique platform for watching the city, the park's designers Diller Scofidio + Renfro have incorporated theater-style tiered seating overlooking the street at 10th Ave and West 26th; where one might expect to find a move screen at the front there is an expansive glass window literally framing the performance of urban life.

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