Gettin' High Line
It is an unusual and yet utterly New York paradox that to glimpse the natural world in Manhattan you must visit an unnatural place.
That is part of the appeal of the weirdly beautiful High Line. Not the manicured park, with its concrete boardwalk and hordes of tourists but what came before on the 1.5-miles railroad trestle, the despoiled beauty of Mother Nature set loose in the wilds of Chelsea, undisturbed for decades but for the occasional trespasser.
More than 10 million visitors have taken in the breathtaking views of the city’s skyline and the Hudson River and traipsed through its minimalist landscape of historic tracks and native grasses since the High Line park opened in 2009. It has encouraged development in Chelsea and Meatpacking, inspired artists and filmmakers, and managed to polarize the surrounding neighborhood before it has even been fully restored.
Yet the thin strip of pre-post-industrial wildlands that made that all possible is about to disappear.
Gettin' High Line
The High Line. Rejuvenator of neighborhoods, destroyer of neighborhoods.
Those are basically the two media narratives surrounding the elevated park on Manhattan’s West Side, which just held the groundbreaking for its third and final phase today. Most of the attention in the past has been on how great the design-y new park is, but as locals learn to live with the millions of visitors who flock to the park each year, some of them have started to complain, most notably in the Op-Ed pages of the Times, that the High Line has actually ruined, or at least Disneyfied, the neighborhoods surrounding it.
Asked about these changes today, Mayor Bloomberg did not necessarily disagree with the situation, just the sentiment.
Much of the debate around the expansion of the Chelsea Market has centered around not the former Nasbisco factory turned popular shopping center (and subsequent tourist attraction), but the old railroad trestle next to it.
Part of the justification for expanding the market by 25 percent was that, in addition to providing construction jobs and new office space for the city’s booming tech sector, the developer of the project, Jamestown Properties, would pay about $19 million to the High Line, to help fund ongoing maintenance. But there was also great community outcry over the fact that much of the new addition would be built on the 10th Avenue side of Chelsea Market, directly overhanging the High Line.
Earlier today, the City Planning Commission unanimously approved the project’s expansion, and addressed a few of these concerns.
Delancey Underground, a.k.a. the Low Line, a.k.a. New York’s first underground green space, has had a lucrative summer, raising a not-unimpressive $150,00o.
Walking the High Line can be maddening and miraculous, often all at once. The crowds, the new buildings crowding out the views of the Hudson, all atop a highly manicured railroad trestle. Some park.
Yet it remains one of the best places to take in the city and its people—a big part of the reason the park attracts 3 million visitors a year, 10 times the original estimate, and has generated more than $2 billion in economic development.
The project could be considered one of the most successful real estate initiatives since Park Avenue was built by the Grand Central Railroad. And some day, probably sooner than most people realize, walking the High Line will be not unlike strolling down Park Avenue, with a wall of buildings on either side. And still, it will be the city’s new premier address.
Into this renaissance lumbers the Chelsea Market, the project that in many ways made this transformation possible when it opened two decades ago. Now it wants its share of the action, just like everybody else, planting itself on the High Line.
Gettin' High Line
At Christine Ebersole cabaret party last night, New York magazine asked Matthew Broderick if he had ever been up on the High Line. His answer may—or may not—surprise you.
Gettin' High Line
The High Line may be getting its very own Tavern on the Green—call it the Pub under the Tracks.
While he may be headed for one of Britain’s largest divorce settlements, moneyman Pierre Lagrange seems to be doing just fine on this side of the pond. The former Goldman Sachs trader has just purchased the penthouse at new Chelsea hotspot HL23.
Mr. Lagrange, who paid $11.29 million for the pad, made headlines last fall when, after separating from his wife, he came out. He has since been linked to fashion designer Roubi L’Roubi.
Planes Trains & Automobiles
The High Line has been such a staggering success, it has created impersonators across the country and the world. And who can blame them, when the project has generated an estimated $2 billion in economic activity on a public investment of only $150 million.
But what if instead of building a park, a subway or light rail line ran along the Far West Side?
It is not a ludicrous idea. Light rail has proven a boon in downtown Portland and elsewhere, and with the extension of the 7 train to Hudson Yards, the line could well have hooked up with the High Line and made a whole swath of under-developed Manhattan real estate more accessible.
A glittery park has achieved just as much, but this exact same debate is taking place in Queens,