Sunday, January 27, 2013

Life in the Slow Line

Life in the Slow Line

Executive summary by darmansjah

 The park's nine metre elevation has seen it become a popular hangout for sun seekers.

The park’s second phase, from West 20th north to West 30th Street, opened in June 2011. This added 10 blocks to its length and introduced new features. When frequenters of the first phase of the High Line commented that the park lacked a picnic lawn, the designers took note.

At 23rd Street, there is now an emerald green lawn that runs for half a block. It has become a magnet for city folk who want to feel ‘cushiony’ grass, not cement, beneath their feet.

families and drinkers at the Pocrch cafe-bar at dusk.

Landscaping comes to the fore in this section. Different areas have names such as Chelsea Thicket, Wildflower Field and Woodland Flyover. The authenticity of this green belt, designed by landscape architects James Corner Field Operations and Dutch horticulturalist Piet Udolf, is confirmed by the presence of bees, dragonflies and even crickets, whose cheerful chatter can often be heard on summer evenings.

‘Someone asked me how me managed to pipe in the sound of crickets’ says High Line co-founder Robert Hammond. ‘I said, ‘We didn’t. those are the real thing.’

The High Line gardeners are articulate advocates for their flora. Johny Linville, the horticulture foreman, is busy yangking up weeds and asking pedestrian no to sample the plump, dark serviceberries.

 on 10th Avenue a popular point for watching traffic

‘The artisty of this job lies in how you maintain and manicure a landscape without having it look maintained and manicured. By design, it’s wild landscape, so you have to  hide by any evidence of grooming,’ he says, looking out over the beds of Korean feather grass, yarrow, black-eyed Susans and coreopsis by the Meadow Walk.

‘A weed is, by definition, just a plant in the wrong place,’ Linville notes, as if apologizing to them. ‘There are mornings when I’m up here weeding and I forget I’m 30 feet above the city. It’s kind of magical feeling. I like to think this is a place people are escaping to.’

New Yorkers can come here to escape some of the problems of the city streets below. The crime rate in the park has been a refreshing surprise – it is zero. Feeling safe exploring the High Line’s nooks and crannies, people also seem to behave less like strangers and more like conspirators in an urban experiment.

Eye contact happens often and when a toddler in a Ramones T-shirt pauses to perform a wobbly dance in front of a lone saxophonist crooning a melancholy rendition of La Vie en Rose above 20th Street, walkers stop, smile and soak it in.

The television chef and entrepreneur Tom Colicchio runs a restaurant, Colicchio & Sons, just west of the Hgh Line at 15th Street, but for the summer of 2011 he also organized the Lot on Tap – a casual amalgam of food trucks and locally sourced keg wine and beer at The Lot, a temporary public plaza beneath the High Line’s 30th Street terminus.

Unfortunately, The Lot occupies land where there are plans to build a condominium tower in 2012. However, Mr Colicchio hopes that a different space can be found for it nearby. He can see the Hihg Line from his apartment on Horatio Street and oftern uses it to walk to work.
‘it’s very active,’ he says, ‘but even so, there’s a sense of not rushing to or from some place, an old-time feeling of slowing things down.’

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