"I wanted to get involved with the High Line, because I thoroughly approve of a 'park in the sky,' especially one that regenerates an existing structure," says British fashion designer Anya Hindmarch about the inspiration behind her High Line tote, designed to raise money and awareness for the elevated park that's scheduled to open in New York City this June. The brilliant swath of urban renewal that her chic canvas creation celebrates -- and supports -- is one of the city's few bright spots in this time of grim headlines.
I was lucky to get a preview when a small group of Indagare members recently toured the High Line. The elevated railway in the Meatpacking district that is being transformed into the city's newest public park will open its first phase (from Gansevoort to 20th Street) next month. We donned construction hats and signed liability waivers before ascending to the former tracks, which have been preserved in some spots and replaced by lush landscaping in others. As Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker so eloquently put it, "The High Line does not offer a God's-eye-view of the city, exactly, but something rarer, the view of a lesser angel: of a Cupid in a renaissance painting." It's a walking "park in the sky", and while we wended our way alongside the Standard hotel and through an adjacent building and over 14th Street, we were struck by the shifting views: into apartments, over busy streets, across to the Hudson River. "That's where Diane von Furstenburg does yoga," someone pointed to a skylight.
The High Line runs 30 feet above the street but not in a straight direction, so you catch glimpses of new sight lines. (At some points, advertising billboards are distractingly dominant.) Among the less obvious treasures we spied: a woman's prison, a seminary and a special view to Lady Liberty. One broad stretch faces the area that has been dubbed the Starchitect District, where Jean Nouvel's tower meets Frank Gehry's IAC masterpiece. Some of the new buildings were applauded and others derided by our opinionated group. However, there was universal agreement on the High Line, from the vision to the execution (the chaise longues facing the Hudson river are on wheels like those of the trains that ran along here): we were all fans, who left feeling that New York has a new reason to celebrate -- and finally, some good news. And if you buy one of Hindmarch's totes, which show a historic image of a freight train on the 75-year old steel structure, you'll be supporting Friends of the High Line, the community group working to maintain the park.
Read more about the High Line and see photos of the soon-to-be-opened park
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