Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rough and rusted: Walking the last section of the High Line


The last remaining unrenovated tracks of the West Side Elevated Railway: Seen better days, but haven't we all? (Click onto pictures for a larger view)

This past weekend, Open House New York, in association with the clothing company Uniqlo, opened up the remaining portion of the West Side Elevated Railway -- aka the High Line. Urban explorers could walk the rusted, overgrown loop from a street-level ramp on 34th Street and stroll over the Hudson train yards, eventually connecting with the end of the developed portion on 30th Street.

While this section of the elevated structure offers little in the way of beautiful surrounding architecture, it is notable for having unencumbered views of the Hudson and a dramatic bend over rows of unoccupied subway cars. That stunning view should be preserved when the $90 million rehabilitation begins later this year.

More uncertain is the fate of the strange growth that has sprouted upon the elevated trains since they were abandoned in the late 1970s. Bushes and small trees thrived from crevasses of rusted railroad ties.

At right, a perfectly healthy evergreen shrub of some sort, begging for Christmas decorations. I'm starting a movement -- protect the High Line Christmas shrub!

 The first phase of new development will include a simple elevated walk constructed on the south portion of the tracks. In its current state, the corroded tracks disguised in thickets of weeds and were hardly safe for children or high heels. But for lovers of graceful urban decay, it was a rich opportunity. Uniquo is sponsoring another weekend on the tracks this weekend, but unfortunately it's already sold-out too!

Maybe they should consider, I don't know, leaving it wild and overgrown for awhile? New Yorkers seem to be enjoying it as is.

The pictures below are courtesy Sean Nowicke. You can visit his photo blog for many more amazing images of the undeveloped section.

For information on the history of the High Line, check out our podcast from earlier this year. (Here's the blog page.) And you can find my free walking tour of the developed part of the High Line here, with mention of the Starrett-Lehigh Building, pictured below:


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