The High Line’s great, no question, with its award-winning landscape design, well-curated public art, first-rate food vendors, excellent people watching, and just an overall slightly adventurous feeling of being somewhere a little different than everywhere else. Yes, even now, with the mile-long park non-stop packed with tourists. But what was it like up here on the High Line before the renovation, during the abandoned decades, when the “land” lay fallow, the steel rusted, the tracks strewn with broken rail ties and the detritus of surreptitious visits by graffiti writers and urban hobos?
High Line at the Rail Yards is the Undeveloped Stretch that Loops Around the Hudson Yards Development
Well, now you can see for yourself, as the High Line launches a year-long series of guided tours of park’s final, undeveloped stretch. They’re calling this final segment of the park High Line at the Rail Yards, as it loops around the LIRR trains between 30th and 34th Streets, which is the soon-to-be the site of the enormous Hudson Yards development. Already there’s a ton of construction going on here (the final leg of High Line Phase 2 is roofed with scaffolding!), so this is pretty much your last chance to see this part of Manhattan before it’s changed forever.
Brooklyn Artist Carol Bove has Seven Large Sculptures Now on View
And what makes your tour of High Line at the Rail Yards even more cool is Brooklyn artist Carol Bove’s Caterpillar, a specially commissioned series of seven large-scale sculptures spread out along the half-mile stretch of un-landscaped parkland. Bove’s three rusty steel pieces–A Glyph (at bottom), 14 (two above), and Cow Watched By Argus–fit in nicely with the rusted rail bed, obviously, and the big bronze slab of Monel (below) is so at home in the setting it looks like it could be actual debris. But my two favorite pieces in the exhibition were actually the ones that more emphatically announce themselves, Bove’s coiled sculptures made from powder coated steel, Prudence (at top), and Celeste (above).
Tour of the Undeveloped Section of the High Line are Free, but Hard to Get
High Line at the Rail Yards tours are free–they are three on Thursday afternoons, four on Fridays, and five on Saturdays–but you must RSVP in order to be ensured a slot. As of now the first batch of tours, through August 3, are fully booked, but round two, in late summer and fall, will become available in mid-June. Check back here, at the Friends of the High Line’s excellent website, to reserve your place. Also: I went on my tour on opening day, and only half of the people showed up. This is probably going to happen a lot, given that it’s a free thing that people book well in advance (plans change, things come up, etc.), so you might want to just show up and get on the wait list they do for every tour.