Mitch sent me a short note and some photos documenting his recent wintry visit to the High Line, which I present here unedited, the better to showcase the antic epistolary style that always cracks me up. Some quick backstory: When I read about the abandoned railway line years before its reincarnation as the High Line, I urged Mitch to check it out for me when in NYC, and he dutifully sourced a friend of a friend whose bathroom window opened onto the defunct elevated railway that was being unobtrusively recolonized with bird-and-wind-seeded plantings. This is the bathroom window that he is concerned about identifying these many years later. Otherwise, I think it’s fairly self-explanatory.
MB Maher: “There’s construction on the High Line where it moves through the
Standard Hotel, so scaffolding and caution tape are in evidence, but
still the skyway is full of people bundled tight speaking every
“And the plantings are SO dead — no effort was made by
anyone to even partially ameliorate the deafening thud of winter —
not an evergreen in sight — brittle sad rumors of prairie grasses,
scraggly thistles — it’s a sad scene. And yet the magic remains.
The novelty of walking at hip-height to a skyscraper, the persistence
of the natural world bursting through railroad ties, the reliability
of youthful birch. All here!”
“I concerned my photographic inquiries with finding the apartment where I first clambered onto the High Line in 2004, when it was in fact a freight line, and I became anxious with all the new construction in Chelsea that the apartment had ceased to
exist. His name was Aidan, he had an excellent sweater selection, and
he seemed partway between non-plussed and ambivalent about our desire
to use his bathroom window to scramble out onto the derelict rails.
He hustled about the apartment (in a killer turtleneck) and instructed
us to lock up as we left after our urban archeology, he himself was
out the door to a Guggenheim fundraiser. The walk along the tracks
(without iphone flashlights, or light of any kind) was sublime and too
detailed to be related here, but my frustration today in 2019 is in
not knowing which bathroom window I had so industriously used all
those years ago.”
“Was it this piece of red masonry, all bricked over
to prevent future ingress?”
“Was it this run-down apartment building with such a crazy gap to jump?
Was the bathroom window a casualty of meat-packing gentrification? No
That old dilapidated railway is certainly laying down new tracks in imaginations across the country: “There is a movement in cities across the world to reclaim underutilized infrastructure and reimagine it as public space.” The High Line Network