The city evolves with the times. However there are few places where locals and tourists alike can escape the repetition made by New York’s arrays of concrete, glass and brick edifices. The High Line has become a park where people seek refuge from such order.
The High Line has become more than just a popular tourist attraction due to the opening of the Whitney museum in the Meatpacking District. The park now captures the essence of New York’s changes and diversity.
The park has steel framed perspectives of the city streets and river views. These frames capture the old brick warehouses, modern glass hotels and apartments, and the historical cobble stoned streets intersecting with freshly paved asphalt. Yet they also appear to be ombré images of New York’s development.
In 2009, the first section of the High Line opened to the public. What once was a railroad track for transporting goods to and from the Industrial District, has become a public park that attracts thousands of visitors each day.
People from all over the world and right around the block come here – people of different cultural backgrounds and social classes. Yet here society draws no division. Melina Franco, a tourist from California, was brought here by her aunt. Franco says, “Here there is no judgement from people around you. Everyone is doing their own thing.”
The High Line has become a must-see place for not only tourists, but also to those who are or used to be fellow New Yorkers. Joseph Whelan used to live in New York City before the High Line was a public park and now comes here to “play tourist.” John Reverol comes once a month all the way from New Rochelle, “to have some alone time, even though I’m never really alone because there are so many people. It’s very relaxing.”
Love can also be found at the High Line. Couples flock to the park to see the hidden sculptures, variety of foliage and views of the river and city or to just sit and talk. Ninety year old, Marion Needlman, comes every three months from Chapel Hill, NC to spend time with her high school sweetheart Herbert Oppenheimer, a local. Together they look at the interesting public art projects that can be found all over the High Line and architecture of surrounding buildings.
The High Line has become a place where visitors seek refuge from the extreme summer heat and the smelly streets. Visitors can enjoy the cool breezes and pleasant olfactory experiences of the park while resting on the many benches scattered along the park.
Noelle Franco, a local, says, “New Yorkers crave greenery!” This can be confirmed by many of the locals who come to to the High Line. However this isn’t just true for them. Tourists such as Deepa Manjanatha like “the integrations of plants and the juxtaposition of nature and industrial Meatpacking District.”
Many people find the mélange “funny because you see these plants and then there is like scaffolding and art.” Although some may consider it a mess or confusing, most see the beautiful flowers and other perennials hidden in the grasses and the seemingly random placement of trees as beautiful and interesting. Rosemary Klassen is from a part of Florida where nature thrives. She finds that the park is a nice “combination of the familiar (nature) in an unfamiliar place. A place where urban meshes with nature.”
Despite the attraction, the High Line is also used as a form of transportation. Visitors can walk over traffic in an “urban cloud” all the way from Gansevoort and Washington Street to 34th Street and 12th Avenue. Natasha Pereira works at the Whitney Museum and due to the convenience and proximity, travels uptown through the park.
Yet despite the endless reasons why people enjoy and come to the High Line, what people really love is the sense of community that it provides. The way people come together at the High Line reflects how New York has come to be the city where diversity is commonality.