Adventures in Film: The High Line

Looking at a recent New York City landmark with a monochromatic eye.

The High Line has always posed a strange conundrum to the native New Yorker (we are a dying breed); on the one hand, the High Line is a highly touted tourist attraction, although one could argue that sightseeing into the surrounding condominium windows tends to defeat the purpose of an elevated park. On the other hand, to the average resident, it is a convenient walkway to get from point A to B without having to worry about crossing streets filled with traffic (mainly at night, without the hoards of tourists). At least, until you get to the Meatpacking District, where the High Line journey ends - then you are on your own.

The High Line stretches from West 34th Street to Washington Street in the Meatpacking District. The strangely intergalactic-designed Hudson Yards is currently under construction, and poses an almost existential threat. However, long before the glass towers were erected, much of the remnants of an industrial age still remain in re-purposed warehouses and still standing brick smokestacks.

These photos of the High Line were taken with my Nikon FM using 400 Tri-X film. In using this particular film, I wanted to relate the High Line to the city - sort of cement it in it's current form, in a way, to the city's history. The High Line has always been a part of the fabric of New York City since its days as a produce railway, to its years as an abandoned structure with it's organically grown plant and flora ecosystem.

In it's current construction; while the designers and creators meant well in preserving it's state, the city administration took the concept and twisted it for their own ends - exploiting it's potential, making the trade off by removing the view of the city for the average citizen and building a hallway of condominiums that reserves the view for these residents only, while the High Line's visitors only have the buildings to peek in. It sends a clear message - "The conquering elites are to be admired, while the rest are made to wonder why."

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One can't help but wonder what a magnificent view has been lost with these towers that serve to block and reserve it for only a most financially aristocratic few. Had the decision been made in the 1990's to preserve it as a park the public would have had more time to claim it as their own. The archives of photographers who braved the wilds of the High Line before it's renovation still exist around the internet. You just have to look pre-2009 for them. In an ironic twist, even it's creators said that the park, just like the World Trade Center memorial, has failed in it's function ("you only had one job!") But official documents for these locations show that the city's intention was never for the public good so there is a good place to lay the blame.

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