Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


One month after I took my first astonishing walk on The High Line, I returned with my family to view the miracle that has been wrought in the Old Meat Packing District of New York City.The Friends of the High Line and the design teams they selected have transformed an elevated section of dysfunctional railroad track built in 1930, into New York City’s newest park. I insisted that my visiting family see for themselves.

Summer has brought a
meadow-like effect with
strips of native and
non-native flowering
perennials and grasses.
Trees and shrubs provide
some height. On that
Sunday at 8:30 a.m.
only a few runners, a
man with his coffee and
MacBook, and some
quiet strollers joined us.
As the morning pro-
gressed, more people

I saw the city in a new
and secret way. As
traffic honked below, I
was eye level with sec-
ond floors and roofs of
other buildings. There
was bird song.
Some sumac was in fruit.
I spied the only building
that Architect Frank
Gehry has designed and
built in New York City. I
glimpsed a large liner
and tug on the Hudson
River and walked around
the top of the Chelsea
Market. It’s all here.

There are just enough
glimpses of rusty track,
wooden ties and details
evoking memories of
the old railroad,
that I had the same
frisson as I did when
as a girl, I walked the
forbidden Pennsy RR
tracks two doors away
from our home. I fantasized putting a copper penny on these tracks, and having a steam locomotive roll over it to produce a flat souvenir as I did years ago.

On prominent display now, drifts of gay feather (Liatris spicata), not one of
my favorite garden flowers but here buffeted by the winds, looking as if it
belongs; three cultivars of coneflower (Echinacea purpurea); blackeyed
Susans; a lovely variety
of Joe Pye (Eupatorium
dubium ‘Little Joe’) that
I grow on my roof in a
container; the silvery
fragrant native herb,
Mountain Mint
muticum); Sedum
telephium ‘Red Cauli’; and bright red sneezeweed (Helenium x ‘Rubinzweig’).

My girls, both plant
lovers and gardeners
were suitably impressed.
My son-in-law who has
the critical eye of one
who does historical
restorations for a living
has nothing but positive
words for those who
saved this structure.
And my husband, an
avid non-gardener is
wowed by the beauty
and serenity of this
special city hide-out.

Notes of warning. I'm
told The High line gets
crowded weekends and
holidays midday and

A second section from
W. 20th St. to W. 30th
St. opened in June '11and an additional spur line north of 30th St.is still is awaiting redevelopment.
Turn up the sound on your computer and click bottom right tear-drops to view the BEFORE pictures on video full screen.

BEFORE, NYC from ellen platt on Vimeo.


Frank said...

I have not actually been there yet. But soon.
I did make a post about it when I was in CT, when it opened. I hear much about its liminal quality, its between-ness. After I visit I may have new ideas, but my original thoughts are here:


Marie said...

Beautiful pictures - I can't wait to go back. Now if only they'd let us drink bubbly on their chaise longues!

Ellen Spector Platt said...

Marie, Who knows if the Macbook guy that I saw on the chaise actually had coffee in his Illy cup?

WiseAcre said...

If anything could make me want to visit the city - this would be it.

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