What Does the High Line Mean to You?

highline What Does the High Line Mean to You?“I’m a little biased, but I think it’s great,” said Chelsea resident Brandon Sorlie of the High Line, the West Side “park in the sky” which has captured the philanthropic imagination of the city’s social and fashionable types.

Mr. Sorlie’s boyfriend, Rick Little, is the operations director for Friends of the High Line, the rail-bed’s indefatigable troupe of fundraisers, so Mr. Sorlie is no stranger to events like Friday’s Design Auction Preview Party at Phillips de Pury (peach bellinis, elaborately-prepared shrimp, worn-looking mid-century modern furniture being offered for prices like $150,000—the low estimate for a couch by Fernando + Humberto Campana which was possibly made of colorful erasers). The event was sponsored by Friends of the High Line.

Mr. Sorlie has himself stood on the High Line, a feat few others can claim (it opens to the public next fall). “I’ve been able to go up there since it’s been under construction, the whole bed is cleared, and they have mock-ups of the furniture so you can see what it’s going to look like,” said Mr. Sorlie. “Walking down the High Line is amazing, because you don’t see a car for blocks and blocks.”

Indeed, the idea behind the High Line has become as important as the actual progress on the dilapidated rail-bed, and that idea is a little different for everyone. “There is a big trend toward recycling right now,” said Laura Brandt, a real estate broker at Sotheby’s. “It’s almost like an old thing that’s being recycled into something new. It’s really trendy to be green.”

“It [represents] seeing our neighbors,” said her mother, Rheda Brandt, also a Sotheby’s broker. “We both live and have property in the area. It’s very much a neighborhood situation for us. But it’s also a beautiful idea that we’ll all enjoy.”

“It’s a slow-moving environment where people can enjoy being above the chaos,” said Ashley Wick, a publicist for luxury bag-maker Anya Hindmarch (in case you care, she dates Aaron Eckhart, who was not in attendance). “I work in this area, so for me it’s important to be able to escape the city, and to be able to view nature… which is seldom found in the cement jungle that is New York.”

Ms. Wick’s friend, Russell Gimmelstob, who works in real estate private equity, agreed. “Uptown you have the Park,” he said. “People downtown are looking for a place where they can have a common area to do the things you like to do with other people.”

“Like throw the football!” offered Ms. Wick.

Guests had fought through inexplicably long lines at the new Apple store (can’t you buy iPods online these days?) to reach Friday’s party on West 15th Street. Which raised the question: How would the High Line handle the excitement over its opening?

“That’s something we think about all the time,” said Katie Lorah, media and project manager for Friends of the High Line. She guessed they’d ease into it with “a series of press events, VIP events, and then a long weekend, like 30 hours or so, of being open,” much like the New Museum did last weekend in honor of its much-ballyhooed debut on the Bowery.

This idea sat well with party guests. “I think that to have a grand opening would actually be an enormous mistake,” said Ms. Wick later. “It should be a soft opening.”