In High Fashion: Walking the High Line in NYC.

You better work. (Photos by C-M.)

At this point, we (and by we, I mean New Yorkers) have all read/heard/ dreamt/talked breathlessly about the High Line, the brand spankin’ new urban park on Manhattan’s west side that occupies a defunct elevated rail line once popular with the urban decay set. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, a design firm “at the crossroads of architecture, the visual arts and the performing arts” – at least, that’s what the website says – it has been hailed for the way in which it seamlessly fuses the abandoned railway aesthetic with plantings worthy of Garden Design.

But now that the park has been co-opted by the good people of New York, it has struck me that the High Line is less an urban design masterpiece than the world’s longest catwalk: a nine-block fashion runway where the sleek and the manicured arrive to display their studiously-casual boho frocks and ginormous sunglasses. And I, for one, totally dig it. The polished industrial design is so of-the-moment, the views are spectacular and the people-watching, some of the best in New York. Diller Scofidio + Renfro were even thoughtful enough to incorporate a well-designed stoner hang-out — an area I like to refer to as the “Stoner Pit.” (Pairs well with Kahuna).

To accompany the extravaganza of urban professionals, we suggest picking up a well-stuffed lobster roll from Lobster Place inside the Chelsea Market (or the cheaper shrimp tarragon roll) and following it up with the frozen deliciousness at L’Arte del Gelato (they usually have a cart parked at about 15th street on the park). Then sit back and enjoy the spectacle.

For a highly informative video report – with great historic pix – check out Richard Lacayo at The NY Times also has a cool photo essayClick on images to supersize.

An overview.

Coming down the runway, while studying the foliage. I have a feeling that the combination of perennials and grasses shown here will be endlessly replicated in well-to-do homes around the Northeast.

The shrubbery.

Walking the walk.

Models in, models out.

The splendiferous evening views.

Don’t forget the advertising!! Billboards are conveniently situated all along the park, lest anyone forget that the High Line is as much about High-Priced Fashion as it is about being outdoors.

Walking the Line.

Diller Renfro + Scofidio’s wonderful Stoner Pit, where uber-chic Manhattanites on hydro can sit around and… traffic!!! Totally gnarly.

“Yes. Get my agent on the phone. Now.”

Cue the thumping music and the fruity cocktails: This is where the High Line gets totally South Beach. A row of wood chaises longues are draped with la belle élite — in addition to a standard mix of New York freaks and geeks.

Striking a pose.

The architecture of the uber-chic Standard Hotel frames the views.

Taking in the…advertising.

A feature of the park’s super-outré design: concrete fingers extend into the landscaped areas, mimicking the feel of railroad switches.

Unfortunately, it appears that New York’s pedestrians don’t understand this novel concept, ‘cuz there’s been a whole lot of tripping – requiring these abrasively gauche stanchions. I mean, REALLY


  1. Dalton

    We are already planning our new garden after our visit to the High Line yesterday.

    I also saw an older fellow fall on his face after walking into the bushes. Unfortunately I think those little guards are going to become a fact of life.

  2. romodo

    Cool photos! Up here in the rural environs of CT we have tons of those purple coneflowers, and lovely grasses, too. I was on the High Line way before it was legal, like in 1982. The only thing growing up there was weeds, and crooks.

  3. flowers

    “Look, we’ve got no revenue. We can’t repair the streets. Trees will be growing through the cracks in the pavement in a matter of months. And the city as a whole is going to implode in a bloody urban nightmare in about two years … so how do we cover our asses?”

    “How about ‘urban apocalypse chic’?”


  4. SanSuzie

    I for one now can’t wait to get to NY with my newly acquired Italian sunglasses. First stop, Piazza della Pietra- stoner stop.

  5. Vidalia

    This place could take a lesson from Las Ramblas… you need more people standing around selling a million birds in cages, silver people, buskers, pickpockets, junkies, hookers and an absinthe bar.