Eager anticipation has preceeded the opening of phase 2 of the High Line, which runs from West 20th street to 30th streets, bisecting 10th and 11th avenues in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. In a major success for the Friends of the Highline, the park’s founders, the new second segment designed by landscape architect James Corner, ASLA, and his firm, Field Operations, architects Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, and horticulturalist Piet Oudolf makes the High Line’s open park area now more than one mile long.
Beyond providing a walkable and beautiful respite for the residents of this area, the High Line has generated more than $2 billion in private investment in the neighborhood, reports The New York Times. The return on investment for the city is impressive given NYC government has only invested around $115 million in the park so far. In addition, some 8,000 construction jobs and 12,00 additional jobs in the neighborhood have been created.
The new segment creates a rich array of experiences within its half-mile, 10 block length. Between 20th and 22nd streets, there’s a new “Chelsea Thicket” that appears after a prairie-like landscape that offers a “dense planting of flowering shrubs and small trees” and helps demarcate the edge of the new section (see image above). According to the Friends of High Line, the thicket includes species like “winterberry, redbud, and large American hollies” that provide endless variation all year. There’s also an “under-planting of low grasses, sedges, and shade-tolerant perennials [that] further emphasize the transition from grassland to thicket.”
At 23rd street, there’s a new lawn and steps. Working with the existing infrastructure, the designers used the wider segment, once comprised of an extra set of rail tracks for offloading cargo, to create a larger gathering space. The steps anchor a 4,900-square foot lawn. At its north end, the lawn lifts visitors a few feet into the air, offering them views of “Brooklyn to the east, and the Hudson River and New Jersey to the west.” Unlike the first section, which used Ipe, a rainforest hardwood, the new steps are made up of recycled teak.
Moving further north, there’s the “Philip A. and Lisa Maria Falcone Flyover” between West 25th and West 26th Streets. The Friends of the Highline say this “flyover creates a microclimate that once cultivated a dense grove of tall shrubs and trees. Now, a metal walkway rises eight feet above the High Line, allowing groundcover plants to blanket the undulating terrain below, and carrying visitors upward, into a canopy of sumac and magnolia trees.” At different spots, visitors can branch off the main path.
At 26th street, there’s a “Viewing Spur,” a frame meant to recall the billboards that were once attached to the rail structures. “Now the frame enhances, rather than blocks, views of the city. Tall shrubs and trees flank the Viewing Spur’s frame, while a platform with wood benches invites visitors to sit and enjoy views of 10th Avenue and Chelsea.”
In the next three blocks between West 26th and West 29th Streets, there’s a new “Wildflower Field” featuring “hardy, drought-resistance grasses and wildflowers, and features a mix of species that ensures variation in blooms throughout the growing season.” In this section, famed horticulturalist and garden designer Piet Oudolf has been given room to experiment.
As section two moves towards its endpoint at West 3oth, it begins to curve towards the Hudson River and the West Side Rail Yards, its ultimate destination. The pathway ends at the “30th Street Cut-Out,” a viewing platform so visitors can look down to the park infrastructure and street below.
Image credits: (1) Chelsea Thicket, (2) Lawn and Seating Steps, (3) Philip A. and Lisa Maria Falcone Flyover, (4) Viewing Spur, (5) Wildflower Field, (6) 30th Street Cut-Out / Iwan Baan, copyright 2011.