The High Line New York City

A Dream Fulfilled

For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with New York City, even to the point of continuously watching (and therefore wearing out) my video cassette of Home Alone 2, Lost in New York.

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Photo: ©Anne-Marie Hayes 2012. The view of Manhattan from Brooklyn.

You may laugh, but this started a fascination with New York City for my twin sister and I. From the age of six or seven we would talk to each other of how one day we would visit the city that never sleeps, and stay in the Plaza Hotel, just as Kevin McAllister did in 1992. Well, in 2010, some eighteen years later, that dream became a reality, and we really did stay in the Plaza Hotel, order room service with a cheese pizza, and two scoops of ice cream, but we didn’t use our parents’ credit card to pay, just to clarify. On a serious note though, there is something about New York that gets me– the smells, the sights, the sounds, the feeling that anything is possible and nothing is out of reach.

Photo: ©Anne-Marie Hayes 2010. “Two scoops? Make it three. I’m not driving”. The famous Plaza Hotel from Home Alone 2, Lost in New York.
Photo: ©Anne-Marie Hayes 2010. “Two scoops? Make it three. I’m not driving”. The famous Plaza Hotel from Home Alone 2, Lost in New York.

In May, I will be working with the High Line on a photography and blogging project, after approaching them in October last year with my ideas. Luckily, they welcomed me on board. This will be my third visit to New York, but my first to the High Line. So why does the High Line fascinate me? Because it’s a remnant of New York’s industrial past that has literally turned itself into a natural greenway, meandering its way through the west side of Manhattan and becoming a haven for nature, in one of the busiest, most populated, and noisiest cities in the world. Nature and industry are often incongruous with each other, but The High Line proves exactly the opposite, with the intricacies of nature juxtaposed with the industrial ‘leftovers’ of Manhattan’s urban history. Having a keen interest in nature, plants and New York’s industrial beauty, I am intrigued to discover what hidden world is thriving ten feet above the city, and that’s exactly why I decided to pursue my interest and travel to New York in May.

Photo: ©Wikipedia
Photo: ©Wikipedia

Thousands of people walk the High Line every day, and while they may marvel at the beauty of the landscape, the pretty flowers, the colourful seasonal blooms, how many actually stop to realise that there’s a whole ‘hidden’ world living ten metres above Manhattan? I say ‘hidden’, but this world isn’t really hidden, rather subtly co-existing with over eight-million New Yorkers, who probably for the most part, don’t even realise that The High Line is home to hundreds of species. Bees, butterflies, ladybirds, the list is endless. My aim is to photograph these over a week in May using a macro lens so I can get ‘up close and personal’ with this hidden world, as well as highlighting the beautiful plants, thus emphasising a whole ecological world present in this wonderful city.

For those who aren’t familiar with the High Line, here’s a brief history. Located in lower Manhattan, construction of the elevated line (railroad) began in 1931 as part of New York City’s West Side improvement scheme. Three years later it was described as “one of the greatest public improvements in the history of New York” and served the city for years to come. The beauty of the line was that it connected directly with factories and warehouses, allowing trains to pull up inside the buildings. However, a drop in rail traffic in 1960, in part due to the construction of the Interstate Highway System, meant that the line wasn’t in demand anymore, and consequently the southern section of the line was demolished. The last train chuntered its way down the elevated line in 1980, and it remained unused for the next 19 years, until in 1999, after years of opposition from neighbourhood groups for its demolition, Friends of the High Line was established, and as they say, the rest is history.  This is such an exciting project for me and I hope to visit the High Line for many years to come, capturing the intricacies of a city that never sleeps.

To see more photos of my visit to the High Line, click here

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Thanks for reading!

 

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