Monday, July 13, 2009

The Low Points of the High Line

I know I'm going to get a lot of crap for this (as if anyone actually reads my blog), but the High Line is probably the biggest tourist trap I have ever seen. I can't knock it too much, since it is free. However, I don't think it's a coincidence that it's located at the center of the meatpacking district - home to some of the priciest and most commercial brands in yuppie Manhattan. Also, it's sponsored by Target - who also gives us Free 1st Saturdays at many museums. But what with their branded hats and t-shirt wearing minions directing traffic to the park, and the pamphlets crying out their alleged use of rainforest wood, one has to wonder about their true intentions...

And yes, there was traffic. Like, Disneyworld-cue-lines-in-the-hot-sun-traffic. Just for a chance to ascend the old elevated freight train platform for a 15 min stroll from 12th to 20th. Because when I go to parks, waiting on long lines amidst a crowd of Manhattan-ites yapping about their latest fashion purchases and brunch dates, and gasping profoundly at the decidedly "modern" artistic design of ugly, minimalistic Ikea-like wood paneling is exactly the kind of natural escape from daily life I need. Here are just some of the highlights, categorized by Pros & Cons, of the new High Line Park:**

~ PROS ~

The Dreamland band. Look familiar?

Balloons, fashioned into deep sea creatures.
Some with nice legs. (They were dancing, by the way. Just imagine seeing this from afar, and tell me what you would think.)

These guys.

Free lemonade!

I thought the most interesting was the scenery OUTSIDE of the park; the juxtaposition of old, decrepit New York and it's antiquated brick buildings, with the new, sleek, ultra-modern glass paneled metropolis (which, in my opinion, is infinitely boring and a mar on the entire classic skyline.) There were a few interesting ones, a mix of the two worlds, but I can definitely say that old New York had much more character.

You can't convince me that these buildings are NOT made of legos.
Straight out of middle-aged Europe, this is one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture I have laid eyes on. Wikipedia describes it as "The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church and its college-like close, sometimes called "Chelsea Square", a city block of tree-shaded lawns between 9th and 10th Avenues and between West 20th and West 21st Streets. The campus is ringed by more than a dozen brick and brownstone buildings in Gothic Revival style."
And it shall be mine. One day.

Probably the only time worth visiting the High Line - at night.

~ CONS ~

Oh my, what beautiful.........weeds.
(Ryan didn't see how this was any different from Ohio, where railroad tracks, weeds, and others signs of deteriorated industry overgrown by vegetation are quite common. It seems most New Yorkers, however, have no sense of anything outside their perfect, metropolitan world, and thus, totally bought this rusty little piece of forgotten history as "a work of art." Go figure.)

Wow, I'm really glad we have such a great view from up here - of Armani ads.
(Cause I really need to see the grabbing of a crotch up close.)

If alcohol weren't banned in public parks, you know they'd be drinking cosmopolitans.

Just some of the overheard sophisticated topics of interest:
- Shoes
- Wimbledon, and how many tickets one could score
- the Silver Ghost car, and how it is "obviously the most beautiful car ever"
- Antioxidant Gummy Bears (they're, like, SOO good!)
Look, I don't want to be a Scrooge here; anything that brings family and friends together, from all cultures and religions, to share in a relaxing day side-by-side with something close to a celebration of art and nature, is all good in my book. Perhaps I'm just being a whiny, middle class, ex-NYU student who's lifestyle isn't quite as metropolitan as most native New Yorkers'. Or maybe, just maybe, I'd like to see a little bit of integrity in this city for once. We're not stupid, after all.....or are we?

The best moment of the day is a short conversation we had with a little old woman. "It's amazing to see what's happened to this neighborhood over the years. I think it look much better in the old days."

I hear ya, sister.

Go here for some photos of the High Line the way it used to be....and as it should be.

**Alas, I was too underwhelmed to take my own pictures. (In the future, I should learn to use the energy of my angry aversion to events like these to fuel my desire to document such experiences. Much like I have in words.) The photos shows are from the Flickr account of "Friends of the High Line," a group I am obviously not a part of.
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