Sunday, February 21, 2010

"The High Line" Trip Report

(This Trip Report was originally posted on The Thursday Night Movie Club Message Board Jun 15, 2009 )

The High Line

WARNING: this isn't as naughty as The World Bike Tour and I lack the photographic skill of some, but nevertheless, I've chosen to post my humble weekend adventure.

Sunday, I made my first visit to The High Line.

And no, The High Line isn't a NYC subway that permits marijuana smoking (sorry, pot-heads).

The High Line is a brand new Manhattan park that just opened this past week. What's the big deal about a park? Well, for one thing, it's built on freight train tracks that are elevated 30 feet above Manhattan streets. For another thing, it winds under and in some cases through buildings in the area.

Many years ago, freight trains ran right through Manhattan -- hard to believe now, but true. That stopped a long time ago and the tracks were virtually abandoned. Quickly falling into disuse, they became yet another New York City eyesore. A few years back, community organizers got together and decided to renovate to build a stretch of park there.

The first section of the park just opened Monday; since we've had a stretch of rainy weather for a solid week, Sunday was the first nice day -- let alone the first Sunday -- that the park was open, so you could imagine the big crowd. I stood on a long line that snaked around the block; fortunately, it moved quickly. They regulated the crowds on the limited stretch by having volunteers holding clickers to count the people entering and leaving the area; periodically, the next group of people were kept from entering until enough visitors had left, so as not to overcrowd the limited space.

The experience I'm documenting here is of a nascent attempt at the next generation of NYC; it is the first half mile of the park -- the second stage will open next year. Currently, there's really not too much to see or do -- there aren't any concession stands, but the long - term plan is that there will eventually be plenty -- an outdoor movie screen, an area for live entertainment and places to eat and drink (even if you desire an adult beverage or two).

Will The High Line turn out to be one of New York City's next great attractions or will it turn out to be one of its next great follies? Ask me in two years -- we should know by then ... 

This is a hotel that straddles The High Line; it was built with the intention of being constructed around the park, so that's why there are sides to the structure that appear to be like legs standing the building up -- "the hotel is giving the park a lap dance", as one wag described.

A closer view ... 

 Some of the flowers and other growth planted amidst the old train tracks to remember the old High Line and salute the new ....



Pier 54, Hudson River Park, looking out on The West Side Highway, Hudson River (of course!) and the pure bliss that I like to call New Jersey.


The High Line is in a section of Manhattan unofficially called The Meat Packing District. Now, before someone jumps to the conclusion that this is some kind of euphemism for the gay area of town, I must explain ...
The Meat Packing District got its name because it was literally just that -- a small area on the far west side of Manhattan in which was located many warehouses that packed, well, meat. Many of the buyers and executive chefs from the best restaurants the city had to offer would come here to buy their various cuts of meat -- a side of beef for the weekend, for example. The historic Meat Packing district, however, is now no longer. This place in the photo was actually the last meat packer to close, which just occurred a few weeks ago. Sadly, one era of New York must end for a new one to begin. And a bit of the city's history goes with it.
During the summer of years past, this was a difficult place to navigate through -- the smell of meat in the hot, often not-quickly-enough-refrigerated warehouses was enough to knock you on your ass. And years ago, before the neighborhood became upscale, an area through which you wouldn't want to venture at night -- between the general crime, drugs and prostitutes (many of whom knife-wielding transvestites who'd gladly slice you up if you declined their offer to be a customer -- or at least, so I've heard).  



Looking east along 14th street on a lazy Sunday afternoon. As I alluded to, the neighborhood has changed drastically from its tough reputation of a few years ago. Now, it has luxury condos, high end hotels, office buildings, expensive shops and trendy restaurants that are difficult (if not impossible) to access on the weekends. But that's a story for another thread ...
To give you an idea how the area has changed, one of the shops on the left side of this photo is the clothing shop of Stella McCartney -- yep, that would be Sir Paul's little girl. On the same block, on the corner, is a three - floor Apple store where folks can buy, try, ask questions or get tech support on any and all Apple products -- a far cry from the company who, in the mid to late '90's was predicted to be extinct by the 21st century. The moral to that story: re - inventing oneself can work! (Hey, at least it did for ME ... )

Looking north (uptown) along 10th avenue, near the bleachers ... 



These are the bleachers, located behind huge glass walls on the trestles ... one of many places where you can sit and rest or take in the sun ...  


Another view looking up 10th Avenue from the bleachers ...  

Looking south (downtown) along the first stretch of The High Line; a parking lot just off 10th Avenue on the left side, 30 feet below ...


After an early afternoon brunch and a walk along The High Line, I strolled a few blocks even further west, to my gym, The Sports Center on The Chelsea Piers. After exercising and taking in a couple of hours of late afternoon sun on their sun deck, I showered and changed, then walked toward the subway to head home. Realizing the sun was about to set, I decided on one final shot of The High Line from the street perspective ...  


For you fans of nudity and live sex shows, The Standard Hotel which straddles The High Line now offers some free entertainment ...

The Standard Hotel vows to try closing curtains on guests' peep show for High Line visitors
There's nothing standard about letting it all hang out.

Red-faced managers at a swanky Meatpacking District hotel vowed Monday to encourage exhibitionist guests to cover up.

The Standard Hotel, which towers over the newly opened High Line park, features floor-to-ceiling windows - and guests with a penchant for leaving the curtains wide open when they shouldn't.

In recent days, guests have been spotted having sex, toweling off, and pleasuring themselves - all to the viewing wonderment of tourists and New Yorkers strolling the High Line.

"The hotel will make a concerted effort to remind guests of the transparency of the guest room windows," management officials said yesterday in a statement.

But they may have been caught with their pants down: A report said their Facebook page encouraged the stripper shenanigans up until a few days ago.

A spokesman for the hotel would say nothing more about that yesterday.

He insisted, however, that "the hotel has always been sensitive to the concerns of its friends and neighbors."

Folks who heard about the high-flying High Line hijinks flocked to the park yesterday to gawk upward - hoping to catch an eyeful.

Tourist Peter Jennett, 49, of London, was strolling in the park, built on abandoned railroad tracks, keeping a keen eye on the picture windows.

"It would be shocking in London," he said of the purported exhibitionism, "but New York is all about showing off."

Gaspar Libedinsky, one of the High Line park designers, was all for the voyeurism: "It is like an urban catwalk. It is a place to see and be seen."

The Peep Show may be found here