When we first started covering the story of The High Line, the elevated railway bed that threads from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to the Hudson Rail Yards, it was the summer of 2004 and various starchitects submitted plans that we likened to a Philip K. Dick dystopian world. With today's opening of Phase One of the redesigned park—overseen by James Corner Field Operations along with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro—that dystopian dream is dead. In its place: a calmer, more sanitized High Line. Gone is the graffiti of yore; being installed today, a giant wrap-around Pepsi ad saluting the High Line's opening. Above, a full photogallery tour from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street, and all the spaces in between. And after the jump, our take on the hits and misses.
HIT: The Greenery. Considering planting only started last fall, the vegetation looks spectacular—and certainly couldn't have been hurt by the rainstorms of late last week.
HIT: Tenth Avenue Square's Sunken Overlook, which might be the most compelling part of all of Phase One. It's a mini-amphitheater carved out of the portion of the railbed where it crosses over 10th Avenue, with big glass windows staring out onto the action on the avenue below. Judging by the number of folks who'd already set up shop there this afternoon—kudos to the woman rocking that giant spread of food—it's going to be a popular place.
HIT: To the workers who worked all night last night to complete the sunken overlook—finished off by a portion of plywood because they ran out of the good wood.
MISS: The 15th Street Water Feature, which looked like a glorious outpouring of liquid for those who like to walk barefoot in early renderings but did little more than trickle today. (Chatting with City Planning Commmision chair Amanda Burden, who was on hand for the opening, she acknowledged with a smile that the flow would likely be cranked up.)
MISS: This Policy, which appears on a small card about The High Line that you may be handed upon entrance: "Visitors on the High Line will flow south to north. Please plan on entering the park at the Gansevoort Street access point, unless you are in need of an elevator." Really? The joy of the park, especially for neighborhood residents, will be the ability to ascend it from any entrance to enjoy a quick lunch, stroll, or cleansing foodwash in the water feature. Probably just a crowd control policy, probably silly anyway.
HIT: LED Lighting, to light the park at night. (We'll be there tonight to see how it looks when dark, and will report back accordingly.)
MISS: These Signs, which are pretty much everywhere. We get it. No, really.
MISS: The Old High Line Railroad Tracks, which aren't as prevalent in this portion of the park as one might have expected.
HIT/MISS: Pepsi High Line Advertecture. On the one hand, it's sad to see the High Line's graffitied past give way to corporate canvas of this sort (actual prose under Pepsi Logo Statements: "PEPSI SALUTES THE OPENING OF THE HIGH LINE.") On the other hand, you know you've arrived in New York when you get your first blast of advertecture. Carry on.
Overall? HIT, and well worth the five years of giddy anticipation. Now: commence with the Phase Two hype!
· All Curbed High Line Coverage [Curbed]