September 9, 2003

High Line

I walked the High Line Saturday. If you don’t already know, the High Line is an abandoned elevated freight line that runs along the west side of Manhattan, from lower midtown to the West Village. It was built in the 30’s and was discontinued in 1980. The final freight train (I learned this from the friends of the high line) carried three carloads of frozen turkeys.

The city plans to convert the remaining structure into a “grand, public promenade.” This will be cool, I’m sure, only not one-hundredth as cool as what’s there now, which is a dilapidated overgrown junk-strewn oasis. I don’t have the strength to describe it except to say that it reminded me of The Zone from Tarkovsky’s film Stalker, sans all the intense metaphysics.

If you’re in New York and know what’s good for you, you will go do this thing posthaste. Here’s how:

GETTING ON: Enter the big truck lot on 33rd between 11th and 12th Avenues. See that opening in the fence directly across? Walk through that, make an immediate right, and climb straight up the embankment onto the ramp. Easy.

GETTING OFF: This is harder. The High Line terminates around 10th Street, but there doesn’t appear to be a viable way down at that point unless you enjoy jumping fifteen feet onto the top of a parked truck. Instead double-back to 17th Street. On the west side there’s a staircase plastered with signs that say TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED. You are a trespasser. Walk down the stairs to the level where the nasty-looking barbed wire is, then climb over the barbed wire and shimmy down the opposite side of the big girder at the corner of the stairs onto the car below. Do this quickly and quietly as there’s a security guy in the booth in the yard who will be mean to you when you gallantly remain behind so your friend can get away and who will order you to call after her and then get pissed when she doesn’t turn around (something she will know not to do because you called the wrong name) and who will ask sarcastically if you happened to have seen all those NO TRESPASSING signs plastered on the stairs, to which I recommend replying, politely, with the truth, since that will confuse him.