The High Line Part II

Plants, People, and a City on the Move

Our second walk along the High Line was quite different from the first. Plantings had segued from summer greens and golden yellows to autumn’s earthy reds, blues and buffs. Asters and grasses were headliners now, with berries and seeds in supporting roles under a backdrop of rumpled October clouds.

Asters everywhere

Sumac berries, a treat for birds, make good lemonade, too

On this day we were seeing the High Line in the context of the city, the brick and stone and glass that surrounded us.

Lovely old neighborhood, Empire State Bldg in background

Perhaps because we were walking from north to south, or perhaps because we entered the High Line through one of the newly minted skyscrapers of Hudson Yards, we began to see a continuum of neighborhoods, the classic and timeworn bucking snazzy and modern.

A sleek departure from the old neighborhood

And you thought you had a lot of windows to wash

Traditionally, Hudson Yards is the parking garage for Long Island Railroad passenger cars. Tomorrow the cars will be hidden under a vast platform of newly created real estate, a glittery wannabe center for New York City one percent.

Giant erector set?

Decades in planning, it is a study in economic optimism, or even romanticism, the largest building enterprise in the country ever. In less than a decade Hudson Yards expects to host millions of square feet of business, residential, entertainment, and cultural space in a cluster of skyscrapers with miles of supporting roads and parks, even a subway stop.

A dazzling future?

For a while the sociologist in us trumped the gardener. There are so many nooks and crannies, open spaces, benches and chaises, funky artwork, water, even a seesaw, where people can hang out.

Fun for kids, too, on this giant seesaw

People loafing on benches and chaises

People lunching and socializing

People hurrying, well, except for a plant-watcher

People gabbing

People sound asleep. People stretched out, bodies entwined. (No pictures of these activities.)

But the cityscape pulled us back. We looked west toward the Hudson River where the manicured Hudson Yards would emerge.

Clouds over the Hudson

A closer look at the silhouetted building above

We looked east to Chelsea with its amalgam of color and geometry, imaginative, buildings mixed-up in an old, not so tidy but visually charming neighborhood.

Lots of character here

And finally, billboards and signs were alive with the irrepressible New York City wit and talent for unique expression. You just read one great example above, here are some others.

Death Avenue, a reference to the old moniker for 10th avenue when the railroad tracks were at ground level




Goofy and timely

And just a few more. . . .

Even butterflies find the High Line


Earthtones of fading heucheras stand out against gray birch and gravel mulch


Wish I knew the name of this grass

The wild west witch left her spurs and boots here

Water, too, along the High Line but not a day for wading

And finally, a splashy send-off for Autumn