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Old Posted Oct 8, 2007, 8:05 PM
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Taking a Sneak Peek at the High Line

Touring the High Line.

By Jennifer 8. Lee
October 8, 2007

As part of the voyeuristic Open House New York over the weekend, the public was allowed for the first time to (legally) walk along a section of the High Line, 1.5-mile derelict strip of elevated train tracks along the West Side of Manhattan that has become an urban architectural Cinderella story, starting with demolition and ending (as many New York stories do) with glitzy brand-name real estate development.

City Room tagged along with 700 other people in half-hour tours to walk through the lush, weedy overgrowth along the northern segment of the High Line, from West 30th to West 34th Streets. That section, which has not been turned over to the city, is still owned by the CSX railroad corporation and its future remains in flux.

The southern section of the High Line, from Gansevoort Street to West 20th, is currently under development and is scheduled to open as a park for the public next year. (Those parts of the High Line currently look as charming as an expressway on-ramp.)

Impressions: First you had to sign two disclaimers, including one that warned about poisonous plants. There is also a lot of toxic stuff there, from a construction era when environmental consciousness was not particularly high. The crumbling wooden ties are soaked in creosote and the handrails along the side were originally covered with lead paint.

That said, the long stretch of rambunctious weeds, Manhattan skyline and crumbling industrial past is even more stunning in person than it is in pictures.
The renovation involves removing everything (plant life, iron rails, wooden ties) to repair the damaged concrete underneath the High Line.

In an effort to preserve the native horticulture, seeds from the wild plants along the High Line were taken last fall and stored in the Greenbelt Native Plant Center on Staten Island, a sort of Noah’s Ark for the plant kingdom, to be replanted later. Or as City Room saw it, it’s sort of like freezing embryos.
NEW YORK heals.

“Office buildings are our factories – whether for tech, creative or traditional industries we must continue to grow our modern factories to create new jobs,” said United States Senator Chuck Schumer.
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