The third section of New York City’s High Line opened to the public yesterday, the finale in an landscape saga designed jointly by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and James Corner Field Operations. The last section runs around the massive Amtrak and Long Island railyards, before descending to ground at 34th Street and 11th Avenue.
By all accounts — or rather, those of the city’s leading journalistic observers of architecture and the built environment — this final stretch is an understated conclusion to the gritty glamour of the first two sections, which opened respectively in 2009 and 2011. Of the three components, this last one is the most rustic: there’s no electricity (so it closes every night half an hour before dusk) and the design interventions number relatively few (the updated variety of bench installed this time around is the most prominent). Instead, the original rail tracks are actually left exposed and landscaping is decidedly overgrown. And the entire final section will be decidedly different a decade from now, when the Hudson Yards will have populated the now-empty area around 12th Avenue and 34th Street with some of the city’s tallest, glitziest skyscrapers.
Critical responses are, by and large, positive: Michael Kimmelman practically pens a love poem to New York City over at the New York Times. Vanity Fair’s Paul Goldberger and New York Magazine’s Justin Davidson offer less sentimental but equally affirmative takes; only James S. Russell provides a thorough, and somewhat more somber, analysis of the real estate development swarm that is fast redefining the skyline that surrounds the comparably low-hanging High Line. Find choice quotes from each critic after the jump: (more…)