Trees, flowers, shrubs and grasses line the 1.5 mile walkway.
It sits, perched above the blacktopped, car and bus laden streets, the concrete sidewalks and fenced in city trees. Up above the vast array of restaurants, boutiques, and the everyday hustle and drama of city life. The High Line Park gives the gritty NYC landscape its much needed oasis.
Having the chance to be in the city last week, I took some time to visit the former railway turned green space. It’s now the permanent home to many species of plant life. These types of flora self-seeded along the tracks when it stood unused for decades, now there for anyone to enjoy.
Among the sumac, coneflowers and trumpet lilies are the original railroad tracks once hauling goods from the industrial districts of Manhattan. Though a far different purpose than its original intentions, the High Line continues to evolve and furthers its usefulness and effect on the city.
Being that I have never lived in a place where I have ever had the challenge of locating green space, it was not easy for me to understand the unique qualities of the High Line.
So I thought, thought about the environment of the city. Any city really. There’s the honking of cars, buses; the rumble of the subway as it rockets by underfoot. People talking on phones, always on the phone, arguing. The constant bombardment of advertising and talk radio. A jackhammer ripping through the sidewalk. Where in any of this mess could I connect, connect again with where we came from not where we are.
The answer? Well, it came as a donation from CSX, a major railroading corporation, to NYC in 2005 in the form of the disused West Side Line, aka the High Line.
The NYC government, with help from local organizations, developed ideas about the use of the structure and found viability in using it as a form of public space. This green plan got the green light and here we are presently, where the High Line is so successful and appealing it’s offering stargazing, meditation and Tai Chi above the city streets.
I fully understand how import a little green space can be. My backyard and garden, essential to my well-being, are where I get my hands dirty or meditate on life and all that comes with it.
Among the hostas and under the shade of a 40’ pine tree or weeding the garden I feel at peace. My mind at ease, thinking of places I’ve been or want to be.
In those moments I am connected, connected to every living thing. We all came from the dirty, black soil, that works its way under my fingernails. All of a sudden I’ll feel the summer breeze through the fence lattice. Copper and Katie, my two goldens, their noses rise, also catching the soft breeze and the scents riding upon it into my little oasis of a yard.
So now I understand. Yes, I understand what the High Line represents to residents of the city. A bond to the natural world, in a very manmade setting. An oasis in the city. A backyard for anyone who wants a whiff of the wildflowers, who wants to watch a honeybee buzz about the city, or someone who wants to sit and be still in a world so chaotic.
I guess I never thought I could relate to New Yorkers. Assumption smashed! I learned the natural world brings us all closer, whether city, country, suburburbanite or cabin in the woods. We’re all sharing this world together.