Entering through a locked gate access on 34th Street just off Twelfth Avenue, our small, sensibly shod group picked our way along the tracks and the railroad ties, stepping over the grasses, wildflowers and other miraculously thriving flora 30 feet up on the trestle above the train yards.
We walked south until we ran out of track, as the last remaining un-developed stretch of the abandoned rail line met the northern most point of the wildly popular elevated park that now stretches from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West Twenty-Eighth in Chelsea.
Along the way we stopped to hear Alemani speak, eloquently and with visible passion (not to mention a delicious Italian accent) about Caterpillar, the multi-part Carol Bove sculptural work installed amongst the weedy overgrowth.
As the High Line's press describes it:
Installed along a 300-yard stretch of the untouched terrain of the High Line, Bove’s sculptures reveal themselves among the unruly vegetation, like mysteriously pristine ruins of a lost civilization or a contemporary version of a Zen garden. Abstract shapes and enigmatic forms are carefully placed . . . creating a unique viewing experience surrounded by the wilderness of the High Line and the stunning views of the Hudson River.
And as you can see –
– they are absolutely right.
While this was a privately organized visit and I doubt that Alemani conducts every tour, the experience is available to the public. Again – from the web site.
On view for one year beginning Thursday, May 16, 2013, Bove’s commission is the last opportunity to see this section of the elevated railway in its natural state before it opens as public parkland in 2014. The commission will be viewable during public walks on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays until May 2014. Admission is free and advance reservations are required.
A detailed account of the history of the High Line – opened in 1934, shut down in 1980 and narrowly escaping demolition in the late 1990s – is set out in Art on the Block's section "High Liners and Starchitechts." It's an incredible story about an incredible structure that has not only survived but regenerated itself in the heart of the city.
Catch it while you can.