Monday, August 3, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

What a delight it is to explore New York with a friend. What a double delight when the exploring takes place in the morning of a day that features blue sky, puffy clouds and a bit of a breeze.

The area of New York that I explored is called the High Line. It has been created on a formerly derelict span of elevated rail line very near the Hudson River, on the western boundary of our fantastic city. The architects, engineers, and gardeners that have worked on this project should be very, very proud of their achievement. It is new, yet seems to be in harmony with all the neighborhood scenes that one can view from its three/four-story height. One can see the river, and watch boats and ships pass by. One can see and remark upon the various trees, shrubs, wildflowers, not so wild flowers and grasses that have been planted along this walk way.

The walkway itself is done in planks that are reminiscent of seaside boardwalks, and have a north-south orientation that echos the original railway direction.

We have had a very wet June and July in New York, and many of the plants are quite overgrown and blowzy. They are sculptural and crazy, and grab your attention. Little children love to run back and forth along this walkway, and to see their city from very different angles.

There are many buildings along the Hudson Riverside that are dramatic. There are others that show no particular attention from architects, yet are still interesting in the mix.

Along the walk, one comes upon clever benches upon which to sit. These benches also have a design that derives from rails. Some manage to be in shady spots, although most of the walk is in brilliant open air.
The juxtaposition of being above the city, and yet in the city, is fascinating. Scale constantly shifts. Savvy advertisers know where to post a poster or two.

Between the location of the High Line and the Hudson River is another area where many warehouses still function as warehouses, but many now function as either art galleries or very, very expensive housing.

At one point, the original rail line ran straight into a building. (There was an entrance to that building that allowed trains to unload their freight right into the building.) And, in a witty homage to that original notion, the High Line also dives straight through a building, treating it like a covered bridge. This gives a welcome bit of deep shadow, and opportunity to sit with one's laptop, and contemplate distant views of New Jersey across the river.

Back out in the sunshine, the pathway decides to duck under, yes under, a modern hotel that straddles the High Line on what must be very strong pillars.

At this point, the length of this spectacular walk is less than a mile. It will be extended. I so look forward to returning to see this route in late afternoon, early evening, and as the seasons change.
May I extend huge thanks to fabulous Elizabeth , for introducing me to this wonderful addition to our city. Any readers who have not already done so are very much encouraged to visit any of Elizabeth's blogs. Her photos are much, much better than mine.
Sweet dreams to all.


  1. I'm doing High Line Week over at my blog, pop by and is how it's going!

  2. Hello Frances. Thank you for visiting my blog. I've just taken a wonderful trip to New York via your photos. It's over twenty years since I actually visited the city so it felt good to be back!

  3. I have never been to New York but when I do, and I hope that will be soon, I know who I will choose as my guide.
    Another interesting blog, Frances. I think you could have a career as a travel writer; you make folk want to see places.

  4. ' The juxtaposition of being above the city, and yet in the city, is fascinating. ' Yes, yes, that's it exactly - I wouldn't have been able to guess where I was at all from the photos. Absolutely loved doing the High Line with you.

  5. How I wish you had been my guide on one of my fleeting visits to New York. Your intelligent words and pictures bring your blog to life, and give a wonderful picture of your city. So pleased you are enjoying your week off with such pursuits as this.

  6. Frances, I never wanted to see New York till I started reading your blog and Marie's (66 Square Feet You have such a wonderful way of conveying your love of a richly diverse and interesting city that makes it so much less daunting than the usual travelogue.

  7. Thanks for reminding me about the High line, Francis. I've never seen it in real life of course, but read about it in a horticultural magazine a while back.It is such a gem of a place.

  8. I like the idea of walking on a wooden trail over all that concrete. It's been so long since I last visited New York - I'd put that walk on my list of things to do if I could go there now.
    Thank you for the another quirky view of your wonderful city.

  9. Hello Frances, I have popped over from Chris's blog and enjoyed walking the High Line with you. What a brilliant and innovative idea ... very impressive.
    I look forward to coming back for more stories on your wonderful city!

  10. Unfortunately I can never quite get that film - The Taking of Pelham 123 - out of my mind when it comes to elevated railways in New York. All the same this does look wonderful and with the tracks still in place so you are half expecting to see some plangent rattle of a subway rake whoosh round the corner. I always felt in New York that something was about to run into me from above, below or either side. I never quite found tranquil - but perhaps here there may be a quiet corner out of reach of those ferocious rollerbladers.

  11. When I first saw your post I thought of Elizabeth, not that I have ever actually met her you understand, but I have read about the High Line on her blog. It makes the world seem like a village sometimes when you read a blog that you like and find that your other bloggy friends also visit!

    I love green spaces in cities, this one sounds wonderful because of its elevated position. Maybe we will visit one day, it is definitely on my list.

  12. Thank you for taking us along your exploration of the High Line – I enjoyed it a lot. Next time I am in New York I’ll try to find it. This is urban/environmental planning at its best.

  13. I've read about and seen pictures of this elevated garden/walkway - what a fantastic idea. You've brought it to life for me on a more personal level. Many thanks.

  14. Thank you again for taking us with you!! :)

  15. Oh Frances how exciting. I have walked this line with you and enjoyed the views. Quite agree with Rosie - you make me want to 'pop' over and join you. For now though I will need to stick with living in your city vicariously through your blog, but that is no hardship.

  16. How fantastic - I had read about this and really wanted to go back in January when I was there, but it wasn't yet open to the public. It looks wonderful. Glad you could go.

  17. What an amazing city you have, Frances.

  18. You captured our wonderful little walk perfectly!
    I think, from reading the comments, that you should go into the tour business.
    You would have many eager takers!
    Again, what fun it was.

  19. I've heard about the High Line, we have something similar on a much smaller scale in the Docklands area of London. Great to see pictures of the so-far only imagined architecture and scale.

  20. Hi from Texas, I really enjoy reading your blog. The photos and great descriptions of New York really make it come alive. You make the city an interesting place for me. Thanks for all your wonderful thoughts!

  21. Great blog.I too am in the city...London to be precise and Im aiming to hopefully show people a side they didnt know existed.

  22. Every time I read your blog I feel like I've taken a mini vacation to some place so wonderful and colorful, full of life... Thank you for being the best tour guide ever!

  23. Thank you for taking us on that trip with you Frances.

    I love hearing about where you live in NYC, although I have never visited your posts always capture it wonderfully for us to enjoy.


  24. Should I ever have the good fortune
    to visit New York again I will
    use your blog as my guide.

  25. That looks like a fabulous walk - I shall note it down for when I'm next in New York (not soon I suspect)
    J x

  26. Dear Frances,
    When I visit you blog-I forget to leave a message--
    There is so much to enjoy.
    Thank you for another great visit-to some of my favorite places.