31 Days of A Sense of Place :: Day 25 ~ Field Trip to The High Line

A sense of place(2)Welcome to Day 25 of 31 Days of A Sense of Place. Sundays are devoted to field trips, relaxing time spent in one spot so we can visually take in its singular sense of place.

Today, it’s The High Line in New York City, a 1.45-mile-long elevated park on the west side of lower Manhattan, reclaiming an old freight rail line from Gansevoort Street through Chelsea to 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues (map here). It opened in 2009, with additional phases opening in 2011 and 2014. There are 300+ species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees planted in the park, with benches and risers to rest on, artwork and graffiti — as well as interesting architecture and the Hudson River — to gaze upon, and docents to provide information. It’s one of my favourite destinations in the city now.


I’ve walked the High Line in March, June, and November. I imagine that in the middle of the summer it’s quite crowded, but when I’ve been there, it’s been perfectly peopled: not too many, but enough to keep it from feeling deserted. It feels to me like an escape, a secret, nostalgic world overlooking an anxious, vibrant, modern urban landscape, slightly at a distance from ordinary concerns and schedules. Whereas on most sidewalks in New York, people rush madly headlong (I do), on the High Line most people stroll, like Parisians along the Seine (I imagine). Like other gardens open to the public, it’s heterotopic: time slows down here, there is a sense of spaciousness in this narrow, linear park, a feeling of being between worlds, inhabiting a place that’s not quite real, that doesn’t connect smoothly with the places around it — all the more so because it is elevated, must be reached by climbing stairs or taking an elevator, overlooks but doesn’t intersect with the busy avenues and waterway.


Here’s a sense of the layout and span:

HighLinenear30thStNYC23March2013 whitecrocuslawnwithartandgraffitiinrainHighLineNYC29March2014 HighLinewithtrackinrainHighLineNYC29March2014 plantsandfingersbillboardonHighline30June2012 viewofHighLinebNYC23March2013viewofHighLineNYC23March2013 strangersontheHighline30June2012lookingoutover10thAvefromHighLineNYC23March2013


And of the art, advertising, architecture, and other things to look at:

veryrichorverysmalladfromHighLineNYC23March2013 Highlinewithfingersbillboard30June2012 wavybuildingalongHighLineNYC23March2013 cartooncatHighLineNYC29March2014 redbudandbuildingsHighLineNYC29March2014 artordecrepitudealongHighLineNYC23March2013 artalongHighLineNYC23March2013 artandgraffitialongHighLineNYC23March2013 seatingplatformandviewofHighLineNYC23March2013yogaclassatEquinoxalongHighLineNYC23March2013 goodmusicalongHighLineNYC23March2013 architectureonHighLineNYC23March2013 BustedsculptureColinPowellHighLine29March2014


Of course, train tracks:

HighLinewithgrassesHighLineNYC29March2014 trackswithshrubberyHighLineNYC29March2014shrubberygrassestracksbuildingsHighLineNYC29March2014


And the plantings:

orangetwigshrubsHighLineNYC23March2013 crocuscloserHighLineNYC29March2014 crocusesingravelHighLineNYC29March2014 pussywillowswithraindropsHighLineNYC29March2014 witchhazelwiderviewHighLineNYC29March2014 oregongrapeonHighLineNYC23March2013 cedarsandbuildingsalongHighLineNYC23March2013 scillafloweronHighLineNYC23March2013
redbudtreeinbloomagainstbrickHighLineNYC29March2014redbudinbloomcloserHighLineNYC29March2014 Highlinegrasses30June2012


Thanks for checking in. Be sure to see what the other 31 Dayers are writing about.a sense of place(1)This project is a bit like Wallace Stevens’ poem Thirteen Ways of Looking At A Blackbird, in that I’m writing about a sense of place from vantage points that may not obviously connect with each other. I’m not going to attempt to tie them together. In the end, these 31 days of looking at a sense of place may overlap, contradict, form a whole, or collapse like a flan in a cupboard, as Eddie Izzard would say. That remains to be seen. Thanks for stopping by.


  1. Oh, my! Now I need to go and walk the High Line while I still have one daughter living in NYC. Our two girls have walked parts of it, but don’t know if either has walked the whole path yet. I love how you captured different facets of the city in this post, and also the whole idea of spending Sundays going on relaxing day trips.

    1. Yes, go Laurie! Probably from May thru Sept. would be most amazing plantwise but I really think it’s worth the walk any time. Also fun to spend time in Chelsea Market, nearby.

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