Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Springing Forward and UPward: The Highline

There are so many things I love about Springtime generally.

Growing up in Kansas, Spring guaranteed exciting thunderstorms, big rainbows, and beautiful sunsets stretching across that glorious flat horizon. (And for those of you who love stereotypes, yes, there was a tornado or two thrown in there to ensure at least one panic attack per season.)

I longed for those thunderstorms in my Freshman year of college and wasn't sure what do to in New Jersey without the erratic, yet comforting, Kansas weather patterns. One of my sweetest college memories is of seeing the sky turn to gray from my bedroom window, and later hearing a loud crack of thunder immediately followed by the running footsteps of my friends darting from their room one floor above to come fetch me, all the while shouting "PUT ON YOUR WELLIES, CHRISTINE! THIS IS KANSAS WEATHER!" We ran outside to celebrate and jumped in the puddles as long as we could stand it.

Spring in NYC means something altogether different but is no less delightful. After a long cold winter, everyone jumps the gun. At the earliest sign of the thaw restaurants set out their sidewalk tables and girls don their sundresses and sandals, only to discover that the last snow has yet to fall. But it's both glorious and fleeting, and City summers can be brutal (the Hamptons exist for a reason), so New Yorkers soak up every ounce of Spring they can get their hands on.

Of the many things which make me anxious for Spring this year, the biggest and best reason is The Highline. The Highline was formerly an elevated train line running along Manhattan's west side through Chelsea and the Meatpacking District. Built between 1929 and 1934, the tracks fell into disuse and disrepair and are now overgrown by weeds and grass. In 2002, the Chelsea Village Business Owners decided to preserve and restore The Highline by turning it into the City's first and only elevated park, an idea inspired by the Promenade Plantee in Paris.

(Artist's Rendering from the NYTimes)

The Highline website hasn't been updated in awhile, and there hasn't been a NYTimes article about it since 2008, but I heard on the local news (NY1) the other day that the park is slated to open in a few months' time.

I admit that I don't like the air of snobbery surrounding this project (extending from both the celebrities who founded "Friends of The Highline" and the now-posh neighborhoods in which it falls). My simple hope that any and every New Yorker will engage with and enjoy this park, make memories here, and let it become a part of what makes NYC special in their hearts...all starting with a stroll along its glorious tracks in the Spring City sunshine.



Brenn said...


Hold Alt + 1 + 3 + 0



CJM said...

Merci, Brenn!

A said...

one of my favorite posts yet!!