The first section of the park opened this past June. Instead of a scruffy, debris strewn gravel path, the city now has a sleekly designed park that is attracting lots of new development to the area.
In the image below, you can see the old tracks remnants artfully re-arranged with lush new plantings.
Walking along the path was a very relaxing experience, at least on this desolate morning. You still experience the sounds and energy of the city, but at a comforting distance.
The park was beautifully designed by the landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations, along with the architectural firm Diller Scofidia + Renfro. Living in Williamsburg, I sometimes I feel starved for contemporary design so it's great to visit places like the High Line. I loved the carefully thought out details like the new concrete paving that weaves its way through the park, disintegrating along its edges into richly designed plant beds.
The planting design uses over 200 species of plants including clethra, paper birch, sunflowers, heucheras, asters, sumac and many varieties of grasses. The beds were surprisingly well established, loking as if they looked like they had been growing there for several years. Some of the plants in bloom late August were liatris,
and this little flower which I didn't recognize:
I was surprised at the complexity of the planting scheme, until I learned that it was designed by Piet Oudolf. No one can design a planting plan like he can!
Throughout the park are many seats made of concrete and/or sustainably harvested ipe. Many of the seats are cantilevered, almost like they had been peeled up from the pavement. On this rainy day the benches had a stark beauty.
One section of the park cleverly makes use of the train tracks with movable lounge chairs.
The 10th Avenue Square is a handsome wooden amphitheater that looks directly out over 10th avenue. The seats are formed out of a continuous ramp offering seats of varying sizes. There's at least one spot in the square that is custom made for you.
I'm looking forward to going back on a sunnier day to get a better idea of how the park is used by visitors. I'd also like to see the soon to be completed Diller - Von Furstenberg Sundeck and Water Feature (doesn't that roll off the tongue) in action. If you're interested in further reading about the park, the New York Times has a great collection of articles and interactive features to check out.