Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Urban Oases

Dear George,

When Katja and I were planning our 50th wedding anniversary trip to New York City, I decided my goal would be to photograph everything in the city (not including Queens or the Bronx). As it turned out, this goal was not realistic. However, I still got quite a few pics. While many involved street views, some of the most pleasing are of what might be called “urban gardens”.

My sister-in-law Ami’s itinerary had listed the High Line park on Manhattan’s lower west side as our first destination, but, because of drizzle on our arrival, we put it off for a day. It was worth the wait. I’d heard about the High Line from friends, but it was even better than I’d envisioned. We climbed up a stairway in the meat-packing district near Greenwich Village and spent an hour or so in a leisurely stroll up to 20th St. The High Line is on the former site of an elevated freight railway that ran from Spring St. to W. 34th. Railroad traffic ended in 1980, and, with philanthropic support from Diane von Furstenberg, Mayor Bloomberg, and others, a 1.4 mile section was turned into a city park or greenway. It opened a little over a year ago, and future plans call for its extension up to 34th St. It’s roughly 15 yards wide and lined by gardens on both sides, much of which incorporates the wild grasses, weeds, shrubs, and trees which had grown up among the unused railroad tracks over the years. Some of the tracks have been left in place for historical and decorative purposes, and there are great city views on the many side streets to the east and west. It strikes one as making very innovative use of what was previously just a deteriorating eyesore. Here are a few images of the High Line:

I hadn’t known it, but it turns out that there are over 600 community gardens spread throughout New York City. I ran across the West Side Community Garden on Columbus Ave. between 89th and 90th Streets just by chance. As you can see from the photo below, it’s a beautiful oasis in the midst of the city’s concrete. About 2/3 is flowers; 1/3, vegetables.

I tried to get up early each morning to take a solo walk in the neighborhood, and I’d usually go to Riverside Park which was right across the street from Ami and Bruce’s high-rise. There I discovered the 91st St. Garden, which is also planted and maintained by community members. I later learned that we’d seen it years ago because it’s the site where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan met and enjoyed their first kiss in the 1998 movie, You’ve Got Mail. A guy was busy watering plants when I first saw it in person, and the whole idea of volunteers collaborating to beautify the neighborhood was brought home. We’ll stop by again on our next visit.



G-Mail Comments

-Linda C (9-9): We could really use a community garden at our house Jayme and I let all the flowers die. Great photos

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