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on the high line

Ancient Footfalls Beneath the High Line

Manhattan Island's 1609 shoreline, with the Lenape trail passing under today's High Line

Manhattan Island’s 1609 shoreline, with the Lenape trail passing under today’s High Line

Of the many additions to the revised & updated version of On the High Line, one of my favorites is a new map created by Maps For Good co-founder Marty Schnure. It uses data from the Welikia Project to show the path of an historic Native American Indian trail that once cut below today’s Gansevoort Woodland in the High Line park. (Click the image to enlarge it.)

Four hundred years ago, before the first Europeans arrived, this area was a prime hunting and fishing grounds for the Lenape people. From the estuary of the Hudson River they pulled 12″ oysters, 6′ lobsters and more than 70 species of fish. On land they hunted countless species of mammals including deer and bear.

In those days, the river was a bit closer to today’s park. We’ve been expanding the borders of our island for centuries; Marty’s map shows the original 1609 shoreline, which the High Line roughly follows. Intriguingly, the line bisects the Western Rail Yards at exactly the point where the temporary path in section three of the park will begin once it opens in the Fall. This path will lead visitors through the still-wild landscape that emerged after the rail line was abandoned, and toward a glorious view of the river — all of which takes place on modern landfill.

The second edition went on-sale this week, and continues to peel back the layers of landscape around the High Line, offering historical and cultural context for readers interested in the story of this fascinating place. [continue reading…]


Annik La Farge & Rick Darke on the Reading Viaduct in Philadelphia. Photo: Rick Darke

On July 11 my collaborator and friend Rick Darke and I are giving a special walking tour of the High Line. Rick is a renowned landscape ethicist, writer, horticulturist and photographer; he has been photographing and writing about the High Line since 2002, and contributed the preface, several short pieces and a number of photographs to my upcoming book On the High Line: Exploring America’s Most Original Urban Park.

As we walk we’ll talk about the history of the neighborhood — the railroads and port, industry, culture, architecture — and the beautiful “park in the sky” that has become a magnet for visitors from around the world. Rick’s expertise in horticulture and landscape ethics will make this walk a special opportunity to learn about the High Line’s design and its multilayered landscape. If you’re interested in photography, spending time with Rick on the High Line presents a golden opportunity to learn about ways to shoot the park in new and original ways.

Sign up at TheHighLine.org. The walk begins at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, July 11, and will last an hour. Tickets are $15 ($10 for members of Friends of the High Line) and all proceeds help fund the High Line, both today and in the future. The meeting location will be provided in the confirmation email.

On the High Line is available now. Go here for a list of retailer links. To learn about how the High Line went from abandoned railroad to award-winning park, read Joshua David and Robert Hammond’s excellent book High Line: The Inside Story of New York’s Park in the Sky.

See you on the High Line!