Sunday, November 20, 2011

NYC Day 2.1 - Rivers and Greenways

Quick game of “which of these is not like the others”:
Large Double-Double, Sausage B.E.L.T, USA Today?
"Bake Shop!?!"
Day two we woke up all bright-tailed and bushy-eyed after what may have been too many cocktails the previous night… to get on a boat tour around the southern half of Manhattan. We sailed down the Hudson from Chelsea

…past the World Financial Centre and the new “freedom tower” (ugh)

…and some big ol’ statue they have out in the harbour, which Tig is helpfully pointing out here for the confused boat-load of tourists:

Then up the East River to see Wall Street from the outside:

The UN building (under repair)

Some dude fishing in the East River, from the New York Sanitation Department pier (YIKES!)

...and some bridges of note.

Our morning sail dropped us very close to the north end of the HighLine, and it was a beautiful sunny day to walk a linear park, as several thousand others apparently thought.

For those who don’t subscribe to Urban Planning Digest, the Highline is a new linear park that stretches through the recently-gentrified Chelsea neighbourhood on the lower west side of Manhattan. What makes it unique is it’s location: upon a 2km stretch of elevated railway that had been abandoned and fell into disrepair. When the City wanted to tear down the derelict riveted steel elevated guide way a decade ago, community activists fought to preserve it and develop it into public space. The result is an unexpected and unique Green Space in the sky,

In most places, the rails are still in place and emerge at times between the plantings of native grasses, trees and bushes, that provide shade and habitat for birds and bugs in a neighbourhood that has been warehouses and pavement for 100 years.

All along the route there are great features:

A flat “fountain” with cool water flowing from a cat-tail and moss garden across
some permeable pavement, and a few chaise-lounge to relax in

Picnic and meeting areas
Interesting paving and planting designs;

An amphitheatre where the streets of New York are the only thing on stage
Covered areas for Art showings and Artists
All remarkably integrated into the neighbourhood while rising above it.
What was great - inspirational - to see was how many people were on the trail on a sunny afternoon, and how every entrance and exit from the park was surrounded by cafes, businesses, and galleries. Clearly, this reclaiming of urban infrastructure has been a success for the community group that raised donations to build it, and for the neighbourhood that hosts it.

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