A, C, E at 14th St.; L at Eighth Ave.; C, E at 23rd St.; 1, 2, 3 at 14th St.; 1 at 18th St.; 1 at 23rd St.
The High Line emulates Paris’s Promenade Plantée, a magical arbor that runs nearly three miles atop a disused railway viaduct, from the Bastille Opera to the city’s edge. But for now, the New York version goes hardly anywhere. At 20th Street, it hits a chain-link fence separating the current park from its future extension. You can stroll the entire open length in less than ten minutes. The park itself is a pleasant stroke of green, designed by Field Operations with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, that revives the romance of industrial brawn. A lithe, glass-walled steel staircase hangs from the superstructure at Gansevoort Street, leading to a hole cut in the trestle. It’s a fine way to make an entrance into this Jack-and-the-Beanstalk world, where nature and design have been arranged to simulate neglect. The walkway of concrete planks blurs into the grass. Sections of the original track materialize and peter out. Wooden deck chairs on train wheels slide along the rails, like pieces of equipment left over from another era. A couple of wider sections tend to the pastoral, with verdure shielding the pathway. But the architects never lose sight of the desire to behold the city beyond and below, and at times they satisfy that urge with a theatrical voilà. At 17th Street, a section of the structure falls away to create a grandstand suspended vertiginously above Tenth Avenue. The move echoes similar hanging spaces by Diller Scofidio + Renfro: the mediathèque of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, which looks over a thrilling expanse of harbor; the Juilliard dance studio perched above Broadway. This one offers a grittier vista of uptown traffic.