Yesterday we ventured into Manhattan to explore The High Line.
A former elevated railway line, it once delivered freight above the streets of New York City. When it fell out of use in the early 80s, wild grasses and flowers started to seed and grow among its tracks. This summer, a section of the High Line in the Meatpacking District reopened as a park. A wooden boardwalk has been built alongside the old tracks, which have been planted up with grasses, flowers and trees in the spirit of the wilderness that grew there for so many years.
Everything is beautifully designed, from the wild gardens to the sleek benches and chairs to the wooden sunloungers that line the walkway. You can wander along and watch the yellow taxis cruise the city streets below, admire the Manhattan skyline and rooftops, see the top of the Empire State building, and glimpse the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge in the middle distance. There's even a guy selling hot cocoa and cookies along the way.
It's a wonderful place to take kids; not only can they run ahead to their heart's content, there's no need to worry about them being mown down by a maniac cab driver if they step off the pavement. They can climb on the wooden benches, pretend to go to sleep on the loungers and there's even a kind of viewing gallery at one point, with stone bench seating, that was crawling with tiny children using it as their own personal playground. The Littleboys were in their element.
During the summer, the High Line was apparently so popular that they had to restrict access because of overcrowding. But on a mild, sunny November Day, there were just the right number of tourists and New Yorkers enjoying the view (and being a hip new attraction, it was a good place to spot Beautiful People).
The whole thing is a great example of how design, creativity and inspirational architecture can add something valuable to a cityscape, and find a new use for existing infrastructure. I hope London's urban planners take note.
Back home, after pizza and a trip to the playground in Washington Square, we watched Woody Allen's Manhattan on DVD (I'd never seen it before). A fitting end to the perfect New York day.