NEW YORK—”I’ve been a devoted High Line follower since the beginning,” said Emmy Stocker, leaning against the fence dividing the end of Section 2 of the High Line with the third and final portion: the Rail Yards.
Stocker, an art teacher in Connecticut, frequents the park almost weekly to take in the beauty of the vegetation—purposely arranged to look wild—juxtaposed with surrounding steel structures. Having lived and worked in the city for 15 years before moving to Connecticut, the sense of nature 30 feet above heavy car traffic astounds her.
“Just look at that,” she said Friday, gesturing to the Rail Yards through the fence, where construction workers are making finishing touches. “It’s beautiful.”
On Sunday, the Rail Yards will open to the public, followed by a week of special programs to celebrate. The final portion of the park, a half-mile length of between West 30th and 34th Streets, loops upward to the in-progress Hudson Yards development.
Three walks along the northernmost portion of the Rail Yards reveal the old rail tracks in a naturalistic landscape.
Over 11th Avenue, there will be a slightly elevated bridge for visitors to see the cityscape, the Hudson River, and the park from above.
West of that, the Pershing Square Beams is a silicone-coated play space for children with a rotating beam, periscopes, a gopher hole, and large tubes.
Ad the very end of the path is the Interim Walkway, celebrating the natural wildness of the rails that inspired the park, where the landscape features self-seeded plants and is not lit at night.
“It will be the realization of our original dream for the High Line: to transform the entire structure, enabling visitors to walk all the way from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street,” writes High Line co-founder Joshua David in a blog post. Yoga classes will be held 8 a.m. Monday through Friday with a different teacher and style every day, followed by meditation, tai chi, and guided nature walks (reservation required online).
Musical concerts will be held every afternoon at 1 p.m. next week at the 10th Avenue Square, with a dance party Wednesday evening and a film screening to end the week Sunday, Sept. 28.
Since the High Line’s opening in 2009, the park in the sky has become easily one of the most loved spots in the city.
While wild-looking bushes line the sides in lieu of flashing lights, the crowd is actually not unlike the one found at Times Square, a spot which, in contrast, people love to hate. Businessmen in suits stroll past real estate advertisements: no fee rentals, luxury rentals, High Line rentals. Sisters in their senior years who have put the High Line on their list of sights to see on their first trip to New York—one gasps, “Oh, have you ever seen something like that?”—walk past sisters too young to be in school, in matching hats, dresses, pigtails, and sullen expressions. People of every age group lounge on the wood-finished park furniture with their smartphones, cameras. On the High Line, everyone is a photographer.
But programming has been key to making the High Line truly a park for New Yorkers, said David, in an earlier interview during the High Line’s five-year anniversary celebration. “I walk on it virtually every day to work and it is just such a pleasure to see people here.”