People love photographing the High Line during the day. The first page of results on a Google image search for “High Line” yields only 8 night images out of 448. The reasons for this are multifold. A park is ordinarily associated with daytime and such images are also more similar to the design renderings that fed popular imagination for years before the park was opened. Even more simply, more people go visit during the day. But the High Line is a totally different type of park than your typical municipal park. Taking cues from the Culee Vert in Paris, another repurposed industrial track converted into pedestrian space, the High Line is open at night (until 10pm) and runs amidst one of New York City’s most popular party districts. And it goes literally underneath the Standard Hotel and hovers above the road. This is a good thing because it helps you avoid the denizens of the Meatpacking District.
I remember years ago, when the Meatpacking was not the B&T central it is today. (B&T stands for Bridge & Tunnel, a decades-old derogatory term for those that do not live on the island of Manhattan). There was a seedy diner on the corner of 14th St. and 10th Avenue where I ate food now long lost deep inside my memory. Then things started to change. Mandy Moore had a meeting next to me at Pastis. I watched Cuba Gooding Jr. desperately attempt to pick up an unattractive girl at Gaslight (while everyone else at the bar ignored him). I went to a fashion week afterparty at Lotus and wanted to kill myself. At the rooftop bar/pool of the Gansevoort Hotel, a middle aged man tried to pick me up by claiming he was the treasurer of Soho House. A lot of girls don’t like to mention where they went to college, for fear that it intimidates men. But I like to name drop precisely in these moments and watch their expressions change, wondering if they may have just been caught in a huge lie but in the end not bright enough to fully comprehend. Now on weekends, cops patrol the neighborhood, double checking that cabbies are not taking advantage of drunk women and circling them around town. A Parisian visiting the Meatpacking for the first time remarked that it looked just like East London. Not a compliment, by my book.
But for all these reasons, thank god for the Highline. It will be around long after the clientele changes and the businesses shift. And do check it out at night. The colors are much richer, the lighting is spectacular, and what can beat the Manhattan skyline at night? For High Line enthusiasts, Phase II of the High Line will be completed in Summer 2011, stretching from 20th to 30th St.
All photos by Joanie Tom
Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.