Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Walk The High Line in Chelsea NYC Phase 2 and "Phase 3"

Post Contents:

  • Brief history and link to 2009 Opening of High Line Phase 1.
  • Introduction to a future Phase 3 as a concept.
  • Map of Park showing stairs and elevator access streets.
  • Photo Preview of newest section of the park: 20th to 30th Street
  • Special viewing of undeveloped, last section of The High Line at West Side Rail Yards. 

In May, 2011, Phase 2 of the High Line Park opened, extending the hanging gardens of this reclaimed overhead tract from West 20th Street to West 30th Street, along 10th Avenue. Since Phase 1 of the High Line was opened two years ago from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street, the plantings have flourished and the crowds have thickened.

History: From the 1800's through the early 1900's, this freight rail system serviced the busy industrial and meat-packing districts of New York. It ran on street level from Gansevoort Street up to 37th Street, starting along 9th Avenue and curving west to continue along 10th. Not surprisingly, the occurrence of frequent accidents soon earned this busy commercial thoroughfare the monika, "Death Avenue". In an attempt to reduce deaths of scurrying workers, the company posted a horse and rider in front of the train to clear the way. (photo found at title link.)

In the 1930's, as part of The West Side Improvement Project, the rails were raised 30 feet above the avenue to free the public from danger. Then, when the Javits Center was built in the 1970s, the northern hook of the tracks on West 37th Street was pushed down to West 34th Street, forming the present U of the last section, (still owned today by CSX Transportation), from 34th to 30th Street. This section is called The High Line at West Side Rail Yards. The last train, carrying a load of frozen turkeys, ran in 1980.
In 2005, CSX gave the High Line from Gansevoort to 30th Street as a gift to NYC.
Now, The Friends of the High Line hopes to save this last section of the defunct rails and turn it into Phase 3 of The High Line Park!

 Walking west along 20th Street from the 6 train at Park Avenue to this newest access to The High Line Park at 10th Avenue gave us a little head start with mileage, but we had to do a lot of extra stepping to walk our five miles today!

 Note on map that 14th, 16th, 23rd and 30th Streets have elevator access as well as stairways.

 One of the public art works is "Still Life with Landscape" (Model for a Habitat), by Sarah Sze, located between 20th and 21st Street.

The Chelsea Thicket at 21Street.

The 23rd Street lawn and seating steps.

25th Street Flyover, one of the many seating areas affording views of the city below.

Narrower way along flower gardens.

View of wild, unreclaimed section's east-west 30th Street rail.

Last access at 30th Streeet with both elevator and staircase

More public art: Dazzle, disruptively painted storage containers (an old maritime stealth strategy), by Charles Mary Kubricht.
And the end of the line...

But today was our lucky day! Open House New York was hosting a walk-through the remaining, wilderness section from 30th to 34th Street. All we had to do was exit to the street and run before closing to 34th Street and the West Side Highway, sign a release form, and be admitted to the locked section of The High Line, which forms a U around the Long Island Railroad train yard.

We just made it before the gate was relocked. This was first peek up the steps on West 34th Street at the West Side Highway

The rails swing out to run along the docks and across the LIRR train yard before it arcs west in the distance at 30th Street.

A look back to the Javits Center on 34th.

Friends of the High Line volunteers explained the status of the old  tracks and the hope that CSX will gift them to the city. As of now, a developer plans to deck over the train yard and put up buildings and through streets. A new commercial and residential community on level with a developed Phase 3 High Line Park is a utopia the High Line Organization can visualize and promote.

We stepped along, alternately on dead rails, rotted ties, and clumps of tundra-like grass. Much vegetation has been brought by the birds and the winds, the insects and the rodents.

Somehow, the thistles have needles that worked into our toes, heels and ankles. Ouch!

Just passed the rail yards, the raised tracks turn east to the Post Office on 10th Avenue. We avoided photographing the trains, as requested, for security reasons.

The Norwegian Gem was heading out to sea.

These crossing tracks and switch are sitting untouched since their last use over 40 years ago. From this level, the trains used to unload their cargo into the second-floor receiving areas of local businesses.

Back at the 30th Street gate, the volunteers explain to the crowd that they could not go out through the gate and enter the wilderness territory. Only those who had been admitted officially at 34th Street were touring and would be the one-way traffic back in.

On the ground again. The OHM building is one of many offering life at the end of The High Line at the East 30th Street access point. Unless, of course CSX makes another gift to the city...