Delancey Street on the Lower East Side is somewhat near me. More interesting is that I used to live one block away from what’s now known as the High Line. Whenever I’m walking on the High Line with a friend I point out the building where I used to live (“The terrible one, right there”) and say how I always used to wonder what those elevated tracks were, which wound through buildings, factories, above streets. I never had the courage to climb up on those tracks myself and explore. But someone did. And he was so impressed by the weeds and grasses and flowers growing up there, wild, in between and all over the railroad tracks, that he started a fundraising campaign and hired an architectural firm that reconstructed the whole thing into a public park: replacing the original railway tracks with shiny new ones, and replanting the original weeds and flowers with the same species, or ones that looked the same but were even better. New real estate development followed, with condominiums rising along either side of the old rail line; I was walking along the High Line just last weekend and looked into a couple of people’s kitchens! There was a woman in one of the kitchens cooking something. Or was she just someone hired by one of the real estate companies to look like she was cooking? In another kitchen was a man who wasn’t wearing a shirt; most people in the new condominiums remember to draw their shades so they won’t have to look out onto the public park crowded with people that gives their homes such high value.
So when I hear about how someone found a really cool, abandoned space somewhere in New York, and they want to turn it into a High Line, or a Low Line, or a Sky Line—or a Bottom Line—I wonder if it might not be better to keep such places secret, rather than fill them with “special technologies that pipe in sunlight beneath the street’s surface.” (One forgets sometimes that the sun is just outside.) I also wonder if back in the day when I lived next to the still un-re-developed High Line I should have had a little more guts and climbed up there and wandered through the weeds myself.