Changing Directions In Mid-Air

2009 August 12
by ASHP Staff

After years of laying dormant and neglected the High Line Park is, as of this summer, a veritable hot spot for New Yorkers and tourists alike. As I walked through this park, following the old train line North, I was struck by what I gained from looking at the city from a few feet up. Then I found myself face-to-face with the giant Armani billboard. I took the opportunity to scrutinize the ad up close. The High Line has — for the second time in it’s history — lifted us from the hubbub of street level activity while keeping (some of) our urban sensibilities in tact.

In 1934 when the High Line train opened, it was designed to run along the side of the street, rather than down the middle of it to prevent some of the inconveniences of the usual sun-blocking elevated tracks. Today, rather than trying to ignore it, people come to sun bathe on it.Sunbathing on the High Line

Elevated trains, for the most part, went the way of the dinosaur when New York decided to transport people through underground tunnels (weather proof and speedier) instead. The Elevated had taken some of the peril off the street and into the air. It prevented some of the dangerous incidents that had made streetcars notorious (and gave the Brooklyn Dodgers their name). But speeding along at the rapid pace of 12 miles an hour, the elevated trains held risks of their own. Because they were susceptible to weather conditions, frozen tracks could launch a passenger train into your second floor living room window.
What would New Yorkers of the past say, looking at us today? Who are these people walking merrily along the West Side, sitting in sky boxes to gaze down the street, and using the High Line for a stroll? What does it mean that we’ve taken what was once a means of efficient – though risky – transportation and made it a means to pass the time?

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1 Comment
2009 August 13
Greg permalink

Nice post, walking on the high line is real great, isn’t it? I can’t believe that the picture you chose to illustrate elevated tracks in the city was of a crash.

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