The High Line: A Vision of the Future

Intrepid mom Sarah Hartshorne in front of 'Old Tree' by Pamela Rosencranz of Zurich on the High Line in New York City
Intrepid mom Sarah Hartshorne in front of ‘Old Tree’ by Pamela Rosencranz of Zurich on the High Line in New York City

I just braved the perils of the Hutchinson Parkway and the Brueckner Expressway to visit my daughter Sarah and her husband Ian in New York. Of course the main attraction was my one-year-old granddaughter Esben, but I also wanted to deliver Leela the Lilac bush to Sarah’s terrace garden, and I wanted to see the High Line.

We took two subway trains to get downtown
We took two subway trains to get downtown

Built in the 1930s to prevent pedestrian fatalities, the High Line is an elevated track for freight trains that was used for 50 years until most freight was transported by truck. In 1999 Rudy Giuliani signed a demolition order for the unused structure that was considered by many to be an eyesore.

balconies near the High Line
There are lots of futuristic buildings with balconies overlooking the High Line.

That was when local residents founded Friends of the High Line to come up with ideas to repurpose the structure. Ten years later it opened to the public as a 1.45-mile greenway with more than 500 species of plants, small terrace-like picnic spaces, artworks, great views, and lots of happy pedestrians.

It reminded me of an architect’s rendering of a futuristic cityscape.

The High Line in NYc
The High Line is a 1.45-mile greenway in New York City

Sarah and I started out at 117th Street with Esben in her stroller, walked to 125th Street, and took two different subway trains to get downtown. I was in awe of Sarah’s navigating the cars and stations and elevators with the heavy stroller. At one station we couldn’t find the elevator and had to carry it down the stairs.

Then when we got to the High Line, the elevators were out of service! A friendly doorman told us we could go into the Spanish Market (Mercado Little Spain) and take their elevator, which we did. It’s an amazing complex or bars and restaurants and shops where we couldn’t resist having lunch.

The High Line is near the controversial structure called ‘Vessel’ which is closed to the public because people keep jumping off it and killing themselves.

Once we got up on the High Line, we wandered around enjoying the plants and the art and the people and the splendid views of New York. The most striking art installation is ‘Old Tree’ by Pamela Rosencranz of Zurich, a giant shocking pink metal tree in the middle of a plaza.

There are futuristic buildings all around with balconies that overlook the greenway, but we wondered what it must be like to live in them because it would be like living in a fishbowl.

When we got to 34th Street, that elevator was out of service, too, so we had to carry the stroller down the stairs again. At that point grandpa was tuckered out, so we took a taxi home.

Esben Leue
Esben enjoyed the cab ride home.