I love the (relatively) new billboard on the High Line, which is part of the park’s great public art program. Joel Sternfeld selected Robert Adams’ black & white photograph of a highway in Nebraska, titled “Nebraska State Highway 2, Butte County” and it will remain on the billboard over the giant parking lot on 18th Street until the end of this month.
The High Line’s website explains that Adams made this image in 1978 “as part of a survey to discover how the grand landscapes of the western United States had been shaped, in ways both subtle and dramatic, by human development.” The empty road makes a strong contrast with our own “grand landscape” of Manhattan, towering majestically above Tenth Avenue where an endless stream of taxis, cars, motorcycles, trucks, bicycles, pedicabs, razors, and dudes on skateboards goes rolling by, day and night.
But I noticed something else when I looked at some photographs I took a few weeks ago: you can see the shadows of people walking along the High Line in the photograph. I have no idea if this was intentional, but Sternfeld understands better than anyone the way the sunlight dances on and around this park.
So there we are, walking along Robert Adams’ deserted Nebraska highway: yet another connection the High Line makes for us between the canyons of Manhattan and the prairies of the American west.