Saturday, December 19, 2009

The High Line

It seems the newly opened High Line park has been quite a hit this past summer. There has been a bit of controversy surrounding the newly opened park, and I'm generally part of the camp that thinks it was better before it was Disneyfied. My experiences with it go back to early 2008 when the lower sections were under construction and being stripped out for the park conversion.

I had managed to climb up one of the construction scaffolds and scale the side of the railway near a gas station and wandered south to the sections that were being worked on. At this point pretty much all of the grass and wildflowers were gone and they were in the process of tearing up the passageways through some of the buildings. I was able to get on a few rooftops and into some of the abandoned buildings that were connected to it and took some photos. I also discovered a stairway that led to the inside of an active meat packing plant along the route. I pulled my hoodie over my head like the employees I spotted, and walked right out the front door of the building and into Hogs N Heifer's Saloon right across the street where I was promptly extorted by the scantily clad bartenders.

It would be nearly a year before I visited the High Line again. The park had recently opened and I tried to visit it coincidentally on the same day as the LGBT Pride parade. Sure enough, the city decided to shut down the park early because too many people were trying to visit it. Not being one to be turned away so easily, I decided that I was going to see it that day no matter what. I made my way to the one entrance I was sure the parks department still had no control over and headed up. Walking past some Metro North Employee's smoking on an adjacent rooftop, I waved and said "Beautiful day, isn't it?" to which they agreed and didn't give me another look as I continued along the tracks. This section in particular was still wild and untouched by the parks department. The railings were all still beautifully rusty and the plants grew anywhere they pleased. I ran into a man walking along in the opposite direction and stopped briefly to chat with him. He said that he passes through pretty often and nobody seems to really care. He seemed a little twitchy and nervous as I spoke to him, so I thanked him and started on my way. As I began walking he said "Would you like to take a picture of me?" I was surprised but I agreed and quickly snapped a shot. Before I even had an opportunity to ask him for an email address or way to reach him if he wanted a copy, he was off walking down the tracks. I spent a while longer up there photographing and exploring the still abandoned sections and snuck a peek at the park before heading home.

Having had such a pleasant time up there, I knew I had to return with a model as soon as possible. It seemed the construction equipment was getting dangerously close to this last section and I'd kick myself if I didn't manage to pull off a shoot on it before it was turned into another boring park. I called up Marlo that week and we got together on a late afternoon to head up there. When we met near Penn Station, it was pouring rain, and we only had an hour or two of daylight left. We hopped from awning to awning and slowly made our way to the entrance, hoping that the rain would let off soon. It had slowed down to a drizzle and I decided that would have to be good enough and we started on
our way up. Just as we were getting to the area I planned to shoot in, the rain stopped completely and the sky opened up just in time for the sunset. Perfect! I couldn't have hoped for better conditions and the shoot went off without a hitch. Despite being only a few blocks from midtown, we only managed to attract the attention of a single guy working at a warehouse next to the rail line and were able to wrap it up pretty quickly. As usual, Marlo was great and we got exactly the shots I'd hoped to.

I guess I too was feeling a lot of love for this little section of rail and I ended up planning a little 4th of July celebration of my own up there. This year, they decided to have the Macy's fireworks displays over the Hudson River in honor of the anniversary of it's discovery. It seemed like it would be a perfect spot to view them from as it was both secluded and had an unobstructed view of the river.
Myself and a few others made our way through a little known subterranean connection to the High Line a few minutes before the fireworks were set to start. We bypassed all the crowds this way and discretely made our way to our VIP seats. We stretched out and cracked a few beers while the hoards of people just 20 feet on the other side of a fence stood packed like sardines, surrounded by police barricades and unable to move, drink, or sit. Yet another example of how it always pays to have your experiences on your own terms and not accept those that are pre-packaged for you.


  1. high line fireworks, is fucking wired and great composition, congratulations!

  2. brilliant work, this is what makes life so exiting my friend.
    creative and non-conforming.

    i raise a beer to you

  3. I love reading these blogs, even though I'm reading this in 2012.

  4. That guy look nice to hug Shane don't u think

  5. Thankyou for this wondrous post, I am glad I observed this website on yahoo. electric boom lift rental

  6. Bro that is so cool what u did and I only have one question. Y didn't u go back again and look at the rest of the island

  7. Did you guy ever go back and explore the other half of the island

  8. You cannot expect to stay on the right path if you are walking with the wrong people. goa family packages