Saturday, June 11, 2011

The lesser known Sky Line park

The High Line extension opened this week. The High Line was an elevated freight railway, which ran along the piers and warehouses of Chelsea and the West side - right through the middle of buildings to avoid darkening the avenues below. It used to go into the biscuit factory which is now the Chelsea Market, probably delivering butter and sugar and rolling pins, which was surely work of national importance.

After making a final delivery of frozen turkeys in 1980, it fell into disuse. Nature took the railway over and created something much prettier and quieter, but somewhat less useful for butter and sugar deliveries.

In 2009, as the local news anchor put it, in a rather Day Today-esque turn of phrase, 'what was once just the dream of a bunch of activists' became a reality: the High Line Park was opened. Between 21st Street and Gansevoort Street those crazy activists replaced the weeds you see above with pretty grasses and concrete slabs and little water fountains and public art.

It was a cool little park but rather on the short side. You could get from one end to the other in about 10 minutes flat. It was handy for us on our saunter back from the Chelsea Market but that's about it.

Until this week... when the extension opened. It runs past our block now, and all the way up to 30th Street now. I'm not quite sure when we'd ever go to Midtown but just in case... we no longer need to cross a single street to get to 30th Street.

The new bit is really good. It has a big patch of lawn and you get up close to the backs of residential buildings, in a way the first stretch doesn't really do.

Rabbit Hutch Towers is just out of sight on the right of the redbrick building

Also, we now have an icecream van parked right on our block most days. Most convenient.
The other, less exciting impact, is the arrival of a flood of tourists. West 23rd Street was always relatively free of out-of-towners but the High Line attracts them like wasps to orangina. Most of them are probably off to get in the way of actual shoppers by taking photos of fruit at Chelsea Market’s Manhattan Fruit Exchange. Grrr. "Off my land, tourists!"

TLOML and I saw one chump yelling into his mobile, Dom Joly style, ‘I’m in the Skyline Park! No, the Skyline!’

We smirked at each other like the smug New Yorkers we have already become.
Yeah, maybe the onslaught of tourists isn’t such a bad thing. It's always nice to have someone to make you feel superior.

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