"The Nature of the High Line: A Jacobsian Perspective on New York's 'Park in the Sky'" by Julia Warren

 

"The Nature of the High Line: A Jacobsian Perspective on New York's 'Park in the Sky'" by Julia Warren

Environmental philosopher Ingrid Stefanovic believes today’s cities fail to foster an awareness of the interconnection among humans, their settlements, and the natural world. She envisions a new city that preserves moments of spectacle capable of showing urbanites that their past and present routines and contributions are not isolated from, but an essential part of, the world’s ecology.   

The High Line, a public park on Manhattan’s gentrified west side, has been recognized as a space that frames these moments in Stefanovic’s proposed natural city. The park is thought to preserve a part of New York’s industrial past by repurposing a 1930s viaduct, is noted as offering a glimpse at the beauty and vigor of the natural world through planting design, and is seen as a place where one can slow his or her pace and take in the consummate surroundings.

Just as cities cannot exist in isolation from their surroundings, however, the High Line cannot exist in isolation from social and historical contexts. Given these contexts, the operations of the park exclude portions of the public and perpetuate the homogenization of its surroundings. Moreover, the designed and manicured landscape pays no respect to the natural processes that had once laid claim to the space. Unfortunately, the moment has passed for the High Line to escape these shortcomings.

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