Like much of New York’s population, the Inhabitat team has been eagerly awaiting the opening of section two of the High Line for months. Whether peeking through the fencing at the first section’s 20th Street park terminus, or following The Friends of the High Line website and social media feeds, we could not crack the shroud of secrecy around this much-awaited project – until today. The journey begins at the park’s 20th Street intersection, where a dense landscape of shrubs and small trees obscures the view of the Neil Denari’s HL23 tower and the High Line’s new section two, and makes a visitor feel like they are meandering a path through an overgrown forest!
The paving here at the “Chelsea Thicket” resembles that of the original southern section of the High Line, creating a sense of continuity from the previous design, but the ambiance is decidedly more private and intimate. Whereas in Section One, trees are generally planted individually or within regular geometric planters, in “The Thicket” vegetation defines the space. Views are carved out between the foliage as visitors zig-zag through, highlighting narrower segments of the city and revealing glimpses of specific buildings, such as the elegant, tapering HL23 residential tower by Neil Denari.
THE SUN LAWN
The High Line meanders up north through the thicket where shrubbery and trees fade away and a public plaza emerges. The 22nd Street Seating Steps and 23rd Street Lawn combine to form a pleasant lounging space – the first invitation to step off the High Line pavement and enjoy the park from within its vegetation. While flat and seemingly uninteresting on its own, the 4,900 square-foot lawn transforms into an exciting public space when activated in conjunction with the steps by park-goers. The seats, made in a similar architectural language and materials as the 10th Avenue Plaza, replicate the intimacy of the Chelsea Thicket, and indicate a point of repose within this exciting urban jungle. As you continue walking, it is clear that this lawn is not merely a flat patch of grass; the concrete slab on which it sits peels up from the rail line’s plane, rising like a periscope to afford loungers views of the neighborhood below, the Hudson River, and Midtown Manhattan skyline.
All photos © Inhabitat