In a town where 500 square foot apartments can fetch $4,000 a month, the installation of a small slice of lawn calls for a mayoral press conference. And Mayor Bloomberg was there on June 8 for the opening of the second phase of the High Line, New York’s most innovative park, built on an abandoned elevated rail line on the far West Side.
Years in the making, the new section includes a stretch of brilliant green grass, bird houses, adolescent trees and a new perspective on a newly resurgent Manhattan neighborhood that’s getting more alluring (and affluent) by the moment.
As someone who calls New York home, I explored the first section a few years back when I worked in Chelsea Market, the bougie shopping center that’s home to Food Network, Google, MLB.com and other wanna-be-big start-ups. The park, newly opened at the time, was just out the door-and a wonderful place for a mental health break.
With the new section, now pushing all the way north to 30th Street, the park should draw more people, which drives more business along the corridor. Real estate signs are sprouting up, and a pop-up beer garden has appeared, along with food trucks and a temporary art installation. (It happens to be sponsored by AOL, but I only found out about that when I visited.) Also along the new portion of park? The first U.S. property from Grupo Habita, a super-trendy Mexican boutique hotel group that’s a favorite of the Chelsea and Mexico City art sets.
It’s quite the resume for a disused rail trundle, left to rot in a forgotten corner of the city. No wonder the mayor-and tourists by the tens of thousands-are showing up to see what’s happening.