REDNEPS | blog

Walking the High Line

Posted in Uncategorized by Andrew Spender on June 21, 2009

Starting at Gansevoort Street in the Meat Packing District and running to 20th Street in Chelsea, the High Line is a new elevated public park on the West Side. It was originally constructed in the 1930s to lift freight trains off Manhattan’s streets. The first third-of-a-mile stretch has been transformed into a wild flower paradise that retains the original aesthetic of a heavy industrial transport route.

The High Line is about 30 feet off the floor and it runs through a gentrified belt of the West Side

The High Line is about 50 feet off the floor and it runs through a gentrified belt of the West Side

When all sections are complete in the next few years, the High Line will be a mile-and-a-half-long elevated park, running through the West Side neighborhoods of the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea and Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen. It features an integrated landscape, designed by landscape architects James Corner Field Operations, with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, combining meandering concrete pathways with naturalistic plantings.

Iron work of the High Line.

The range of plants is extensive and it’s sure to improve with age. There’s an interesting section on the High Line Web site about the planting design.  I really like the way it has been planted to create a “reclaimed by nature” feel. The whole walk-way feels like a journey through a place that time forgot, but the detail and quality of the design is remarkable.

The contrast between the wild flowers and the industrial buildings makes the High Line enchanting.

The contrast between the wild flowers and the industrial buildings makes the High Line enchanting.

The views from the High Line are also fabulous. To the West, there are a series of industrial storage buildings and factories along the Hudson River, the majority of which have been converted to office buildings. The only Frank Gehry designed building in New York can also be viewed in all it’s glory. To the East, you get a different perspective of the very chic Meat Packing District and Chelsea with it’s blend of renovated-for-designer-retail industrial units and uber-modern residential blocks, with hidden gems like the Episcopalian seminary.

View looking East from the High Line. This picture has it all - old & new, residential and industrial, low-rise and Empire State.

View looking East from the High Line. This picture has it all - old & new, residential and industrial, low-rise and Empire State.

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Procession Season

Posted in NYC by Andrew Spender on June 14, 2009

The arrival of Spring in New York heralds many seasonal changes; flip-flops instead of wellingtons, frisbee instead of snowballs, and processions instead of traffic. It all kicks-off with Peurto Rican Day, which includes hundreds of thousands of people celebrating the island’s independence by walking down Fifth Avenue with pet anacondas, parrots, flags, banners…. you get the picture. It’s actually a fantastic sight to behold.

It seems like everyone has their day of celebration in New York. Yesterday, it was the turn of those who follow Hare Krishna. Thousands of the faithful pulled three enormous, highly decorated wooden wagons down Fifth Avenue while singing various songs with much gusto. I don’t think I have ever seen a crowd of people enjoying themselves quite so much while physically attached to a multi-ton appendage.

Hare Krishna Procession on 5th Avenue

Hare Krishna Procession on 5th Avenue

Bike Shop

Posted in Uncategorized by Andrew Spender on June 9, 2009

I stopped into a vintage bicycle store recently to take a little look-see. Old racers command big bucks among the stylish elite below 14th street. An old battered Raleigh or Schwinn enjoys a glorious second life here after a little TLC by one of the many skilled bike monkeys on the island.

In this photo, the original crank is being removed with an angle grinder to be fitted with a top of the line Ritchie replacement. Blink and you’ll have missed a rusty old bike sold for $20 in Ohio transformed into a $900 object-des-art.

Bike shop

Storming

Posted in Uncategorized by Andrew Spender on June 9, 2009

When it rains in New York, it doesn’t pour – it deluges! Even though this might possibly be the most boring video I have ever shot (it’s mercifully short at 55 seconds), I couldn’t help but try to record the ferocity of a storm that woke me up at 2.31 this morning. Somehow, it just doesn’t do it justice. I guess you had to be there.

Street Art

Posted in Uncategorized by Andrew Spender on June 9, 2009

One of the first things I noticed when I moved back to New York was the graffiti. I didn’t remember it being so prevalent the last time I lived in the city. Then it dawned on me that the East Village has rather more “creatives” than my old ‘hood, the Upper East Side.

But, as with most things over time, I stopped noticing the graffiti as I adjusted to life back in the city. However, this particular piece caught my attention–and that of a passerby–on a cycle through Chinatown.

Chinatown graffiti

Summer Squeeze

Posted in Uncategorized by Andrew Spender on June 7, 2009

I took a long cycle on Sunday up to my old ‘hood on the Upper East Side, then through the Bronx and down the Upper West Side, including a loop through Central Park for good measure. It was there that I enjoyed an hour with my current book, “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” by Vonnegut, in the Sheep Meadow. The weather was spectacular and it seemed like the whole city had decided to get their fix of grass, rays and frisbee. I counted 27 in this short video clip:

Hudson River Kayaks

Posted in NYC by Andrew Spender on June 6, 2009

The saying goes that New York is a small country off the East Coast of the United States. There’s a lot of truth in that for many reasons, but the fact is that Manhattan is an island. The Hudson River on the West side of the island and East River on the, err, East side, are packed with all kinds of commercial and pleasure boats, including some the very smallest jostling for room – kayaks. I have an affinity with little Kayaks battling with the strong currents and busy waterways because it must be similar to dodging the traffic on 5th Ave on my Brompton.

There are a few unimaginatively called kayaking clubs on the Hudson, like the New York Kayak Co. and The Manhattan Kayak Co. Among them is The New York City Downtown Boathouse. It is a volunteer run organization dedicated to providing access to the river for everyone. On most weekdays and weekends throughout the summer, anyone can kayak for free (yes, free!) via their boathouse at Pier 40. It’s a great way to see the city from an entirely different perspective. Take a change of clothes though – you’ll get very wet.

MoMA

Posted in Uncategorized by Andrew Spender on June 6, 2009

One of my favorite places to spend an afternoon in the city is the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). I enjoy the range and diversity of contemporary art it exhibits, but I think I appreciate the space even more.

The building was designed by Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi. It features a number of large exhibition spaces and a myriad of smaller, interconnected galleries on 6 floors that display the museum’s prestigious collection of work to more than 2 million visitors a year.

I like the sight lines that Taniguchi created inside the building. They offer tantalizing glimpses of art from one room to another, or into exhibitions through portrait windows across an atrium. Unlike many museums, it also recognizes it’s magnificent location by framing views of the outside world, as you can see from the pictures below.

There’s a lot more I like about MoMA that I’ll probably whittle on about in subsequent posts. For example, I think it’s great that you can upload your own photos of the museum via their Flickr photostream. Take a look.

View of MoMA garden from 4th floor.

View of MoMA garden from 4th floor.

View of 53rd street from 4th floor of MoMA

View of 53rd street from 4th floor of MoMA