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Coney Island and the High Line are both places of amusement, culture, and society but they reflect these ideas in diverse ways. Over the past two weeks, I visited each of these sites and came to the unfortunate realization that even though I had lived here all my life, I had never taken the time to truly appreciate the arts of New York City. These visits opened my eyes and gave me the opportunity to take notice of the beauties of this ever growing and developing city.

“When you approach the High Line…what you first see is the kind of thing urban parks were created to get away from” (Goldberger). Urban parks are intended to allow their visitors to enjoy a delightful landscaped area and to unwind in its nature. However, as I stood on 10th Avenue and 14th street staring at the High Line from below, it seemed to do nothing of this sort. I knew that the High Line was a beautifully designed, 25-foot high park, but all I saw was an unwelcoming, heavy, steel structure. However, as I went up the stairs and laid my eyes on the remarkable nature for the first time, I now understood what the High Line was actually about. On that evening, I walked from 14th street to 30th street, taking in the colorful flowers that were visible due to bright lights placed along them, the stream of water, the benches that rose from the floor, the berries, the plants climbing up the fences, and the lights of the city both below and above me. With all the splendor of the High Line surrounding me, I couldn’t believe that people had once wished to demolish it. Thankfully, instead of paving over the High Line, it was incorporated into a place that removes you from the normal city atmosphere but at the same time is uniquely urban.


I was now able to fully understand what Goldberger had meant when he had written that, “Walking on the High Line is unlike any other experience in New York. You float about 25 feet above the ground, at once connected to street life and far away from it.” Although you’re able to see the street life, when you’re on the High Line you’re not apart of it anymore. New York City is known for its hustle-and-bustle, always moving quickly personality. However, the High Line is slower moving and serene. Couples are holding hands walking leisurely down the path and people are sitting on the benches reading books and relaxing amongst all this nature surrounding them. You no longer have to worry about being trampled over by a crowd of people walking towards you or getting lost in a never-ending metropolis. It’s as if you had entered a part of New York City that is ideal and unrealistic.

A piece of artwork that grabbed my attention was “Still Life with Landscape” by Sarah Sze. This steel structure acts as an observatory for birds, butterflies and insects by containing feeding spots and birdbaths. I found this compelling because similar to the High Line, this structure has a steel foundation that holds up a piece of nature. It amplifies the goal of the High Line to encourage people to take a break from the fast pace of the city and to instead, internalize the beauty surrounding them.


Whereas the High Line represented the serene side of recreation and culture, Coney Island on the other hand was more “out there.” With all of its amusement rides, lights, and attractions, it gave more of a “look at me” attitude that I hadn’t felt at the High Line. However, within itself, Coney Island has a contrast. On one hand, it’s a fast moving, exciting place where you could have a fun filled day with your family but on the other hand, it allows you to peacefully reflect on your life while gazing at the waves and seagulls flying by. I especially enjoyed the pier because it gave me an opportunity to get close to the ocean without having to go through the sand, which I am not particularly a fan of. As I walked on the Boardwalk, I noticed that many of the trashcans had been painted. They had drawings and names of random people on them; these paintings reminded me of the drawings I made as a child that my parents would hang up on the refrigerator. They made me feel more at home even though I was miles away.
In Delirious New York, Rem Koolhaas talks about electricity and how “the introduction of electricity makes it possible to create a second daytime” (35). Throughout my life, my favorite part about Coney Island has always been being able to see the rides lit up during the evenings. It gives Coney Island a whole new feeling and the contrast between the darkness and the lights fully isolates each ride from everything surrounding it. Although there is a lot of congestion, which Koolhaas discusses, the lights allow you to see each attraction individually. I found both of these sites very enjoyable and I’m looking forward to going again sometime.

Goldberger, Paul. “Miracle Above Manhattan.” National Geographic April 2011: 122-137. Print.

Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York. New York: Monacelli Press, 1994. Print.



View from High Line, of Hudson River

New York City: a bustling metropolis dominated by steel structures, speeding cabs, and agitated commuters. It’s a multifaceted metropolis, serving as the financial capital of the world or even a melting pot of culture and art, and its entirety defined by an imposing and ominous skyline. For its residents, New York City can be an artificial, urban prison for which natural, recreational escapes are required. Coney Island and High Line Park allow its denizens to escape from a purely artificial city to an artificially crafted “natural” resort.

Alleyway in Coney Island with various carnival games

Coney Island was one of the first natural escapes from the city ever since railroad tracks to the island were built in 1865.  Rem Koolhaas in Delirious New York suggestively, yet accurately, describes the island as a “clitoral appendage at the mouth of New York Harbor” (31). Coney Island enticed commuters from the city with its untouched, natural beaches, providing an escape from the growing metropolis. Although Coney Island was originally intended to provide “Nature to the citizens of the Artificial” (Koolhaas 33) it soon had to adapt to suit public’s evolving preferences, and did so by intensifying the “naturalness” of the island with “Super-Natural” attractions. Luna Park, Steeplechase Park, and Dreamland tried to channel the “Super-Natural” by offering fantastic aesthetics and unique attractions.  In no time, Coney Island was transformed into a “Worlds Fair” of technology and entertainment, using cutting edge technology to provide top-notch pleasure.

Unfortunately, Coney Island did not stand the test of time. All that remains today is a destitute amusement park, overshadowed by the ghost of its former self. Scattered along the boardwalk are hints of Coney Island’s illustrious past: a rickety, old wooden roller coaster; a rusty relic of an attraction too dangerous for our modern world; a worn sign alluding to Steeplechase Park; and a conspicuous alleyway of closed game stands. In a sense, Coney Island has returned to its roots, now offering visitors the simple pleasure of walking along a beach instead of the fantastic amusement parks it once had.

View from the High Line amphitheater

High Line Park was created fairly recently and does not have as colorful a history as Coney Island has had. The High Line was essentially salvaged from a derelict railroad line spanning the West Side of Manhattan. Although the entire park was built atop an abandoned railroad, aesthetically, it provides a stark contrast from the decrepit neighborhoods it runs through. The High Line is full of life, its walkways filled with people of various ages and a diverse array of foliage. It frames the city around it, at one location even showcasing a view down an avenue in an amphitheater. From the vantage points atop the High Line, one is as likely to see a sunset on the Hudson River, powerful street art or a seedy alleyway.

Coney Island and High Line Park ironically attempt to create an escape from an artificial, urban environment by artificially manufacturing what feels to be a “natural” world. While Coney Island’s parks were immensely successful commercially, their architects failed in creating a fantasy world that transcends the natural world. Ultimately, it was the natural world (the beach) and not the artificially created theme parks, which appealed to the public. High Line Park is a pastoral park that transcends the busy world around it; its deciduous fauna allowing its visitors to step away from the delirious sidewalks that pass underneath. High Line Park has become the modern Coney Island.

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This weekend I visited Coney Island and the High Line. I have been to Coney Island about four times in my life, mostly when I was little, so there isn’t much I remember.I had never even heard of the High Line until this September. So it can be said that this post is written from the perspective of a first-timer.

Here are some things I learned and noticed on my visits to these sites.



The High Line and Coney Island attract tremendous amounts of people including tourists, couples, and families.  The High Line is a park converted from an abandoned railroad track. The neighborhood that it’s housed in still reflects its history with graffiti on buildings, litter on the sidewalks, parking lots, and junkyards in the area.

The High line has become an escape and a place for relaxation for the neighborhood. It provides a break from the tight streets and fast-paced life of Manhattan while still allowing people to be close to home.  While on the High Line one is “connected to street life and far away from it” (Goldberger).  Walking on the High Line was a very strange feeling. I felt like I was floating in the middle of buildings, suspended in midair. I had a feeling of looking down from a window of a skyscraper but still being surrounded by plants.  As I walked around, the most obvious thing to me was the great number of tourists present. It was harder to hear English than any other language, enhancing the feeling of eccentricity that the High Line gives off.


The High Line combines the modern with the natural to create a unique experience.  As you walk along the High Line, the old tracks are visible under the various plants, reminding you of the High Line’s past. There are some areas that make it apparent that the plants were physically planted there and some other places where plants are allowed to grow high and in every direction. This gives the feel of the abandoned railroad that the High Line originally was.



          Some parts of the High Line are styled like the modern architecture that is visible in the skyline. The benches grow out of the ground, the elevators have clear walls, and the fountains recite famous quotes.









This architectural genius attracts thousands of people every day to the High Line.

Coney Island houses Luna Park and an aquarium besides the ocean. Both of these attract families and tourists because they are cheap and are able to provide instant entertainment. As Koolhaas explains in his book, Coney Island is technology combined with cardboard to make reality (42). Even though there is trash on the floor, the paint is peeling, and some places look like they will fall apart anytime (Cyclone), people keep coming. It has been designed to look like “ a magic city” (Koolhaas 42). The thrill of the experience is too good to lose.

One of the ways stores in Coney Island attract people is with the use of color. Everywhere you walk, there are bright colors on advertisements, signs, and rides. By using bright colors, weird pictures, and lights in their advertisements, stores draw people’s attention. On a side note, sometimes the mismatch of bright colors may bring a headache to the onlooker, but then again as a New Yorker multiple things squeezed into one place is a common sight.


When I got off the train stop for Coney Island, the first thing that attracted my attention was the number of colorful murals that lined the walls . They depicted things like sea creatures, clowns, and the ocean.









As I walked along the boardwalk, one thing I noticed were the various colorful flags and lights on top of all the restaurants and rides, a common characteristic of the neighborhood. People were riding their bicycles, flying kites, and fishing. What I found interesting were the colorful cans that line the boardwalk. They depicted scenes that had to do with the ocean and the amusement park. The cans and the murals are one of the ways of expression for the residents of the community, whose lives revolve around Coney Island.

Both Coney Island and the High Line have their individual characteristics that set them apart from other places of recreation in New York City. The High Line, because it’s a park above ground and Coney Island because it’s probably the only amusement park in the city next to the ocean. These places exhibit the essence of New York as seen through their backgrounds and artistic expressions. Places like these can never be found or duplicated anywhere else except New York.

Works Cited:

Goldberger, Paul. “Miracle Above Manhattan.” National Geographic April 2011: 122-137. Print.

Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York. New York: Monacelli Press, 1994. Print.


The 14th street entrance was in sight. Upon viewing the lackluster, metal staircase I lowered my expectations of what would greet me at the landing. In retrospect, I realize that this design aimed to resemble a staircase found at functioning above-ground train stations. This misleading staircase did not prepare me for the beautiful greens, yellows, and browns of the grasses, flowers, and trees. The High Line Park had merged innovative architectural scheming with varying natural features. However, within minutes of traversing the wooden floors amidst my fellow New Yorkers, I came to another realization: this was no park. The space was far too narrow. I found my sentiments in accordance with photographer Joel Sternfeld’s view that the High Line is “more of a path than a park” (Gopnik).

Newfound awareness of limited resources, both natural and monetary, have inspired New Yorkers, and Americans in general, to adopt principles of efficient reusing and recycling. This ideology directly manifests itself in the High Line. With the rails, of a path long abandoned, ingrained in the floors of the park, the depth of the innovative transformation is particularly noticeable. Rather than demolish and rebuild, the railway was revitalized. Furthermore, the urban renewal allows an eyesore of the past to mesh well with the surrounding neighborhood.

Still though, there is something unsettling about the Frankenstein-like rebirth. Once again, Sternfeld’s words echoed in my mind: “I just pray that, if they save the High Line, they’ll save some of the virgin parts, so that people can have this hallucinatory experience of nature in the city” (Gopnik). The high line was saved, indeed, but the hallucinatory experience is absent. The artificiality of the flora became painfully obvious when I witnessed work being done on a certain section of the park. The illusion was broken further through a reminder of the commercial nature of New York City. A mass of people surrounded a large coffee cart, with a gelato cart adjacent to it. A painter attempted to sell her wares a few steps down. This is one attribute of the city that remains timeless.

This commercial nature is even more apparent in Coney Island. Home to restaurants, nightclubs, bars, amusement park rides, and an aquarium, Coney Island offers distinct forms of pleasure. Each comes with a different price tag as well. In times of excess, the magnitude of choices often reflects the surplus. Coney Island seems to have been built on this principle. In a time when Coney Island’s fantastical creations produced much greater revenue, entrepreneurs allowed their imaginations to run wild.

Coney Island was not an escape from the urban confines to a natural setting. Instead, it was an escape to the fantasies of men and women everywhere. For this reason there was little consideration in the surrounding environment, natural or residential. The attractions of Coney Island are disharmonious with its surroundings. In fact, these motley attractions are disharmonious with each other. My walk along the boardwalk, away from the auditory and visual distractions, offered me the most serene pleasure. I could not help but wonder if Coney Island would have been a better place, had the majority of funds been invested in excellent maintenance of the beach.

The hustle and bustle of the city can place a great amount of stress on its residents. Throughout the years, the search for escape in New York City has been as common an endeavor as the search for the dollar. Although Coney Island and the High Line Park seem to take vastly different approaches to finding this escape, the synthetic environments of both left me jaded. A true escape can only be made within pure Mother Nature.

Works Cited

Gopnik, Adam. “A Walk on the High Line.” The New Yorker May 21, 2001: 44-49. Print.


New York City is like the people who live in it-diverse with many different stories and personalities. Each individual place reflects the people who built it, whether a hundred or five years ago, and the people who frequent it daily. Coney Island and High Line are two such sites that display their unique characters to their visitors. After walking around for only a few minutes I was able to detect an atmosphere in each of these sites created by the collective mood of the people there.

Coney Island was unlike any neighborhood I had visited before. Because it was a chilly and windy day there weren’t as many people on the streets and boardwalk as there are on a hot summer day but it was still bubbling with life. The feeling I got while walking around Coney Island was the ghost of what was once a glorious amusement park. The remainders of that time stand tall and proud, trying to remind us of what they once were.

Along the boardwalk I felt a shared serenity amongst the people walking, sitting, standing and selling. No matter what troubles they may have and how diverse they are from each other, they are all connected by Coney Island. Like the kites flying nearby, these people are all doing their own thing, yet somehow doing it unison.


My adventures at High Line were quite different than the ones I had at Coney Island. When I finally found the park all I could do was stare in wonder at this Shangri-La above New York City. From down below it appears to be just a walkway, with only gates, people, and a few trees visible. However, the truth is much more striking. As Goldberger says in “Miracle Above Manhattan”,  “walking on the High Line is unlike any other experience in New York. You float about 25 feet above the ground, at once connected to street life and far away from it.”

The High Line is an oasis in the desert that is the bustling industrialization of our city. High Line is the product of the post-industrial age, of a people wanting to experience the city without its constant changes and upgrades. It reminds me of post-apocalyptic science fiction novels, where the destruction of the world is blamed on our generation for our relentless drilling of oil and use of electricity. The new civilizations created in these novels have everything that we have, just greener and with a better appreciation of nature and the world as a whole. This thought came about especially from the rails visible through the bushes. In one place in particular, there was a single tree growing, exemplifying the idea of High Line as a rebirth of nature. High Line is a product of a generation who strives to cure the environment of the diseases we gave it and allow it to blossom in a way that we never allowed it to.

The plants and shrubbery at High Line were, to put it bluntly, not particularly gorgeous, and in any other place would be called weeds. However, it was their rawness that gave them charm in my eyes. Had there been beautiful roses and orchids growing there, all it would be is a garden. Because the plants were clearly left to their own devices, we can see true nature, untouched by humans (mostly), the way it is supposed to grow.

Both Coney Island and High Line are places of relaxation and enjoyment, though in very dissimilar ways. Coney Island gives the visitor something to do, while High Line gives the visitor the opportunity not to do. A contrast between Coney Island and High Line was the sensation of culture that grew over time in Coney Island versus the culture that is yet to come in High Line. While walking through High Line I felt as if it had more to give but needed time to prepare it. Coney Island has been around for decades and is confident in its culture and diversity. What particularly represented this concept at Coney Island were the painted trashcans along the boardwalk.








Another difference between Coney Island and High Line that struck me right away was the values of the times that they were created and how that reflected on each of the sites. Coney Island started becoming popular as machines were getting more complicated and accessible and the attractions built there incorporated the public’s yearning for technology into the pleasurable activities they marketed. The attraction and idea of High Line was the opposite, of throwing off the shackles of the modern and post-industrial age we locked ourselves in. The two sites are converses when it comes to the purposes of the people who created them but are alike in how they are products of their times. Both sites continue to pass along the messages of their creators and their eras, and allow them to live on through future generations.

Works Cited

Goldberger, Paul. “Miracle Above Manhattan.” National Geographic April 2011: 122-137. Print.


Coney Island and the High Line are products of different centuries and yet serve the same purpose of being a resort. I think that New Yorkers can be essentially described as “…a reservoir of people existing under conditions that require them to escape occasionally.” (koolhaas 30) Constantly being part of the hectic lifestyle associated with the city life and surrounded by buildings and technology can be suffocating. It’s no wonder that New Yorkers want a place of escape, where they can just relax and take a break.

Although Coney Island and the High Line each have their own distinct background, they both serve as a form of relief from the city life. It’s a place that people of all ethnicity and ages can enjoy and it’s not only limited to New Yorkers. Every year, these locations also attract thousands of tourists who are looking for entertainment. It’s a place where families can spend quality time with each other. They can take a stroll together and look at the scenery or just take a moment to talk to each other. It’s an opportunity for them to enhance the parent-children relationship, something that they might be too busy for at home. It’s a place where couples can meet and get to know each other better. It’s also a place where people can go by themselves and take pictures. These places allow people to unwind and take a break from their city life. Although both Coney Island and the High Line serve as a resort, there are differences in how they entertain their guests.

The High Line, built in the twenty-first century, embraces the city life and incorporates the ocean, traffic and tall buildings into the scenery. The background is constantly filled with sounds of traffic and construction. As you walk along the High Line, you are able to see both sides of New York, the past and present. If you start at the beginning of the High Line, near 17thstreet, there will be worn down and abandoned brick buildings and various construction projects. This is perhaps a representation of what New York used to look like, before new designs were introduced. However, once you reach 25th street the view changes drastically. Instead of the brick buildings there are now glass buildings, glass elevators and marble flooring. This provides a representation of modern New York, the result of technology and advancements.

In addition, the High Line is tailored to meet the taste of different people because it’s an assimilation of various environments. For example, there are beach chairs with flowing water on the floor that mimics the beach for those that enjoy spending time there. There is also a large grass field for children to play catch, do cartwheels or roll around on. It even has empty platforms for people to express their creativity in forms such as plays. People also express themselves through abstract and realist paintings of the city architecture. These paintings are available for sale on the High Line. The High Line can best be described as “… a series of manipulations and transformations performed on the nature “saved’ by its designers.” (koolhass 23) After all the majority of the High Line, down to its infrastructure is artificial. For example, the High Line is built on an elevated railroad track that’s held up by steel structures, all man made. The plants on the High Line are also planted and organized by the designers. There aren’t even any natural animals on the High Line. Several pigeons were on the rooftops of buildings near the High Line but there weren’t any on the High Line itself.

Coney Island, on the other hand, is built in isolation from the city life. The only evidence of the city is the tall buildings in the distance, but besides that it’s just the ocean, sand and amusement parks. The background in Coney Island is filled with sounds of the ocean waves and screams and laughter from those on the rollercoaster rides. Unlike the High Line, Coney Island creates a more historic atmosphere that evokes childhood memories. It’s filled with arcades, roller coasters, flee markets, street performances and carnival games that make you nostalgic.These types of entertainment are more interactive with the audience and evoke more intimate emotions such as fear, excitement and joy. Even the food there, such as Nathan’s and cotton candy, contributes to the festive carnival atmosphere in Coney Island. Aside from these, there’s also the beach where people can swim, sun tan and build sand castles. People can also go further down the boardwalk to go fishing or crab hunting. Both the beach and fishing provide a full escape from both the city and technology. In both these activities, people can revert back to the old times and use simple equipment for enjoyment. Both these activities can be enjoyed by family members of different generations because it’s one of the few things that hasn’t changed with time. Unlike the High Line, Coney Island is focused more on the arts. The walls and even the garbage cans along the boardwalk are filled with paintings of the sea life. The garbage cans, in particular, express environmental friendly phrases such as please don’t liter and New York pride.

Although both the High Line and Coney Island have different forms of entertainment for the audience, they both serve as a resort for those that want to take a break from the city life. They are places where people of all gender, ethnicity and age can enjoy. However, it seems that Coney Island is no longer being faced with the problem of “ …inordinate number of people assembling on the inadequate acreage…” (koolhaas 35) While walking throughout Coney Island, the place was practically deserted. Most of the arcades and even parts of the amusement parks were closed down. It seems that Coney Island has lost its popularity as people seek other forms of entertainment, such as the High Line.


Works Cited

Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York. New York: Monacelli Press, 1994. Print.


Coney Island and the High Line are two locations where one can escape the busy urban life, yet still be in or near the city. In Delirious New York, Koolhaas describes Coney Island as a place once filled with “technology of the fantastic” with theme parks for entertainment and leisure (29). In “A Walk on the High Line,” Gopnik describes the High Line as a place “in which New York has returned to the wild with an almost Zen quality of measure, peaceful distance.” Likewise, in “Miracle above Manhattan,” Goldberger describes the High Line as “a rare New York situation in which a wonderful idea was not only realized but turned out better than anyone had imagined.”

However, during my first-time visits to both locations, I was a bit disappointed that the “studium view” of both locations did not reach my expectations as others described them. In Coney Island’s case, the entertainment value dissipated over time compared to the Coney Island Koolhaas described during the early to mid-20th century. In the High Line’s case, Gopnik and Goldbeger’s descriptions of the High Line were somewhat exaggerations compared to what I have observed.

For a Friday afternoon, Coney Island seemed like a ghost town. The amusement parks were closed or deserted. Closed-down arcades surrounded an empty arcade. More people were in Nathan’s than on the boardwalk and the beach. The activity didn’t even change much as I waited for sunset. However, the small details of Coney Island did impress me. I noticed the garbage cans throughout the boardwalk with words, “Do Not Litter,” or some variation painted on them. Some contained special messages, such as “Mama Loves Shanna” and “Ally <3 Lee,” and little child paintings of the ocean in the midst of the chipped paint and rust. I felt that the ocean was a cemetery for the names that were painted on the garbage cans, filled with fading cries for a cleaner beach. I also noticed a sticker on a lamp post that said, “You were born original. Don’t be a copy,” as if Coney Island was speaking out to everyone. Coney Island was no longer seen as the “fetal Manhattan” as Koolhaas described, but instead it was its own kind in its entirety (30).

The next day I walked through the High Line on a cloudy afternoon. As mentioned in Goldberger’s “Miracle above Manhattan,” places transitioned around the High Line as if they were like “episodes.” For instance, the 10th Avenue Square was a theater-like complex with the city streets as an infinite stream of motion picture. Continue walking down south and one would then enter the sundeck, a tropical paradise-like section of the High Line. I admired the preserved use of the railroad tracks to echo of what it once used to be and to create an artificial coexistence of nature and industrial life with the trees and grasses growing over the tracks. Leisure on the High Line was limited though, from sitting on benches to relaxing on the sundeck. Despite the presence of the lawn around 23th Street, the space was not enough for recreational activities because many would either simply rest or sit on the grass. Jogging was even not an option with the constant congestion of crowds.

While visiting both sites, I noticed some striking similarities. Both attempted to create a tropical paradise-like atmosphere, whether it was the artificial palm trees on the Coney Island beach or the sundeck on the High Line. The murals around the Coney Island boardwalk and the abstract building structures around the High Line both reflected an artistic taste in the societies nearby. Furthermore, the messages on the garbage cans in Coney Island and the concept of the High Line itself reflected society’s interest for preservation. Amazingly enough, both were locations of interest for wedding photos. In Coney Island, a couple, along with their family, took photos on the beach with the ocean and sunset as the backdrop. On the High Line, a couple took photos with the back of a church (around 21st Street) as a backdrop in the midst of people walking by.

Although I did mention that I was a bit disappointed of Coney Island and the High Line as a whole, I admired many of the small details. Will I consider revisiting those sites again? Of course. Who knows what I will see in my next visit?

Works Cited

Goldberger, Paul. “Miracle Above Manhattan.” National Geographic April 2011: 122-137. Print.

Gopnik, Adam. “A Walk on the High Line.” The New Yorker May 21, 2001: 44-49. Print.

Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York. New York: Monacelli Press, 1994. Print.



When I first heard about the High Line, I’ll admit that I had my doubts. A garden on top of an old railroad sounded a bit strange, and possibly dangerous. This wasn’t helped by the fact that a few entrances were closed on the day that I came to visit. I had to wander around the base of the railroad before finding a staircase. As I climbed up, I was shocked by what I saw. Shrubs, grass, and flowers were arranged the edges of a path that meandered through the city up in the air. I have never seen a park quite like it before; it combined art with plant life and raised it into the air of one of the busiest cities in the world.

One of the first things that caught my eye were the transitions of old to new, and the natural to artificial and back again. Benches rose from the floor in a seamless slope, moving from the gray floorboard to rich maple-colored wood.Old railroad tracks sat parallel with the new walkway, perfectly integrated into the “floor.”A balcony overlooking the High Line Park was shielded by a fence of branches, chunks of wood, and leaves; a natural shield that does not conflict with the aesthetics of the park.

Central Park is a huge span of well-groomed trees and fields in a forest-like setting. This park did not have that option; buildings rise on either side, and cars are both seen and heard as they zoom beneath your feet. I very much enjoyed this aspect of the design; it recognized Manhattan instead of trying to completely rip itself from it. Gopnik describes this balance between the natural world and the reality of city life, “The High Line combines the appeal of those fantasies in which New York has returned to the wild with an almost Zen quality of measured, peaceful distance” (Gopnik). This is not a park full of exotic trees and perfectly arranged, colorful bouquets. The landscape echoes the original state of Manhattan before it was taken over by civilization, “…Corner recommended a wide range of plantings, with heavy leanings toward tall harasses and reeds that recalled the wildflowers and weeds that had sprung up during the High Line’s long abandonment” (Goldberger). This park embraces the past in its design and feel, letting you travel through old Manhattan as you walk the narrow path through the city air.

While I visited the High Line for the first time to complete this project, I have lived across the street from Astroland and Luna Park for most of my life. The Wonder Wheel, Cyclone, and Nathan’s Hot Dog Stand are everyday sights, and not something that stands out. They make up the general aura of the area; “Come have fun for a day. We aren’t the biggest show around, but you’ll have a great time.” This isn’t Six Flags; crazy thrills and broken speed records aren’t what Coney Island is about (unless you are referring to the record number of hot dogs eaten in a sitting). There is a feeling of nostalgia towards the neighborhood that’s been entertaining for over a century. This old timey atmosphere is something that I would characterize as the “studium” of my view of Coney Island. As Barthes sees the general settings of his photographs, this atmosphere is the overarching theme of Coney Island.The standard of a classic amusement park complete with a merry-go-round, cotton candy, and a few feature attractions is the first thing that is noticeable about the entertainment area. It is at its roots a family getaway destination for some fun in the sun and a spin around the Tickler.

Miss Argentina

I do love Coney Island for this. However, there is an unusual undertone that’s sometimes hard to miss if you don’t come in on the right day. When you do catch a gem, it changes your whole view of Coney Island. I was lucky enough to capture a photograph of something that would represent my “punctum.” As Barthes describes, “I feel that its mere presence changes my reading, that I am looking at a new photograph, marked in my eyes with a higher value” (Barthes 42).

Meet “Miss Argentina”; this lovely gentleman was kind enough to pose for the camera with his dog and parrot. There is a sense of “anything goes” that sneaks up on you at Coney and gives you a shock when you least expect it. It’s this surprise factor that really defines Coney Island for me. It isn’t just a place for a family retreat; you’re in for a show. To see examples of just how “interesting” things can get, come see the Mermaid parade in the summer and be prepared for a shock or two.It’s all part of the experience.



Works Cited

Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. New York: Hill and Wang, 2010. 42. Print.

Goldberger, Paul. “Miracle Above Manhattan.” National Geographic April 2011: 122-137. Print.

Gopnik, Adam. “A Walk on the High Line.” The New Yorker May 21, 2001: 44-49.Print.






     It is New York City when vertical and horizontal lines dominate the landscape, when unrecognizable languages assault the ears, and when art is discreetly infused into the landscape.  Coney Island and the High Line are both quintessentially New York, however they forge their own experience into the fabric of New York City.

The black, massive overhead railroad, at first glance, seems to introduce a more threatening aspect to the city, unnecessary with the underground subway system in place.  Walking up to the top of the railroad, every preconceived notion is instantly destroyed.  An innovative and inviting feature of New York City, the High Line, once threatened to be destroyed, creates a new space for visitors (Goldberger).  The High Line is an urban park, the floorboards riddled with sprouts of different plants, cleverly reminding the viewer that however urban and architectural New York City gets, no one can ever remove nature from the area.  Even the aroma of the plants confused the visitor as to where they actually were – the smells of the city perfectly covered.  The scenes of the High Line nearly exhibit a forecast of what may happen if humans were to suddenly disappear from New York City.  Like a set from Planet of the Apes, plants took over the urban landscape of the city; however this landscape was more controlled than if run by ape overlords. One interesting aspect of the High Line is the benches, which look like they are naturally growing out of the structure.  The integration exposes the intentions of the designers of the High Line – to introduce a more innovative way of assimilating nature into urban life.

     The buildings surround the abandoned line, finally granting the ordinary pedestrian a view of the roofs.  Those walking on the High Line seemed always to look outward, toward the river or toward the views of the skyscrapers and littered streets.  This reflects one of the purposes of the High Line’s creations – to present the city in a different way.  There was something to love in the dark, ruin of the High Line; two heroes (who formed the Friends of the High Line) shared their vision of the saved treasure with the rest of the world (Goldberger).  The city is at anyone’s reach while on the elevated line, but far away enough to allow the viewer to appreciate the architecture involved in it.  Every part of the High Line is drawn with lines, horizontal, vertical, diagonal, just as the city is.  It is clear that the neighborhood has influenced theHigh Line, the plants frame the buildings, highlighting the profiles of the buildings.  In one portion of the High Line, a bleacher like system is constructed, leading to clear glass panels, showcasing the city as if it there were some sort of performance.  The performance is clear, the spontaneous happenings of New York City (today it is a wedding right on top of the High Line).

     Unlike the High Line, Coney Island is not one single entity – it is a vast, complex neighborhood – including an amusement park, an aquarium, and a stadium.  Cutting through the parking lot, the activity of the neighborhood was apparent – many different basketball games taking place, loud music permeating through the air, and whistles blowing from all different directions.  The walls of the stadium featured 9/11 memorials, listing the brave men and women that risked their lives.  Walking further up the ramp, the beach comes to view as well as the iconic “Parachute Jump.”  Like in Manhattan, to see the entirety of the structures on Coney Island, one must look up.  The Wonder Wheel, Steeple Chase, and Cyclone penetrate the sky – presenting a world of illusion introduced to reality.  However, unlike the High Line, Coney Island becomes almost simulated.   Though, this artificiality in the architecture of Coney Island does not halt visitors from enjoying the attractions – in fact it is what draws them in (Koolhaas 35).  Becoming “the total opposite of nature” (Koolhaas 33), Coney Island’s purpose is apparent – to build a resort of imagination, constructed in steel, and emblazoned with amusement – “a fetal Manhattan” (Koolhaas 30).

     The trashcans seemed to be an emblem of Coney Island, strange enough.  Around every ten steps along the boardwalk was a trashcan, but it was transformed into art – a message is placed in the midst of a colorful painting “Keep Our Beach Clean,” “Don’t Litter.”  Further into the neighborhood was a large mural of … something; people jumping in water, a fish larger than these humans, and huge resigned faces, seemingly everything and nothing at once. Artwork like this littered all of Coney Island, in a way reminding the visitor of the sometimes strange American culture provided by the area.  Hot dogs, hamburgers, baseball, roller coasters, boardwalks, and steel structures, all captured this essence of America, with the compactness and activity resembling New York City.  While the High Line provided an escape from the bustle of Manhattan to view it from a different vantage point, Coney Island infused and contained the activity of its visitors.  The novelty of Coney Island is well defined, with the old architecture from which it was derived exposed in the styles of the amusement park and the signage of the small eateries.  A performance of sorts was occurring at Coney Island as well, a circus of illusion clashing with reality.

     It is New York City when words fail in describing the sizzling action occurring through countless moments.  Folding into the membrane of New York City are two attractions – Coney Island and the High Line, each capturing an aspect of the future and the past, freezing it into the present and making it available for countless visitors to experience the true New York City – in its various forms as a thriving existence.

Works Cited

Goldberger, Paul. “Miracle Above Manhattan.” National Geographic April 2011: 122-137. Print.

Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York. New York: Monacelli Press, 1994. Print.


Conceived more than 100 years apart, Coney Island and the High Line are two New York City sites which are both products of their times, reflecting different ideas about recreation, culture, and society.  The two locations are very difficult to compare, because I believe that they are somewhat different.

Both of these attractions offer its visitors an escape from the world around them.  The High Line takes its visitors above New York City, giving them a bird’s-eye view of New York.  It contains a handful of artwork dispersed throughout the walkway.  The High Line also includes benches along both the edge of the el and near the old train tracks, now overgrown with foliage.  It also contains a viewing gallery, where people can sit and overlook the New York traffic as it drives by underneath them.

Coney Island takes its visitors away from the busy streets of Brooklyn and propels them into an entirely different world.  Coney Island houses the boardwalk, a peaceful walkway along the Atlantic Ocean.  The area also contains parks, ballparks, and amusement parks, and notably an aquarium.  It’s the home of the original Nathan’s Famous and also is the end of the line for five of New York’s MTA subway lines.

“The most peaceful high place in New York right now is a stretch of viaduct called the High Line.” (Gopnik).  This is the way that Gopnik described the High Line, as opposed to the way that Gorky described Coney Island as a place where people “become a particle in a [gigantic] crowd.” (Koolhaas 68).  My personal experiences have brought me to believe that, today, these descriptions are reversed.  According to what I saw, Coney Island is a peaceful place to go; whereas, the High Line is a place where one gets lost in an enormous crowd of people, and peace is the last thing one can find.

I found that when I was at Coney Island, most of my time was spent on the Boardwalk.  I went on a Saturday afternoon, and I found the Boardwalk to be a very peaceful, relaxing place to be.  I was intrigued by the old parachute jump outside of MCU Park, due to its immense size and finding that it was composed of symmetric and repeated geometric shapes.  I feel that it is like the Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn.

I found that while I was on the High Line, most of my time was spent shielding myself from other people and tourists around me.  The High Line was anything but peaceful.  It was jam-packed with people, trendy and rude locals and tourists alike.  I felt like I was playing touch football, I would get slammed into from the left and as I was flying right, I would get slammed into from behind.  It was so full of people that I could barely walk unencumbered.  I do feel, however, that the High Line would be a potentially calm place to be, less the immense crowd.

Both the High Line and Coney Island were the opposite of what I expected to find.  Perhaps my off-season visits gave me a wrong impression of the sites.  Reading articles and seeing pictures of the High Line, people expect it to be an empty, peaceful place.  Maybe the High Line is different on a Saturday afternoon than at other times.  Likewise, people expect Coney Island to be a jam-packed, boisterous place, with crowded beaches and the hugely popular Mermaid Parade.  But in late September, it is a calm, fun place to be, with thinning crowds.  I hope to one day return to the High Line to find that empty, peaceful place, and to go to Coney Island during the peak of Summer and be greeted by a large, rambunctious, but fun crowd of Brooklynites.


Gopnik, Adam. “A Walk on the High Line.” The New Yorker May 21, 2001: 44-49. Print.
Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York. New York: Monacelli Press, 1994. Print.

High Line 1
High Line 2
Boardwalk Pier
Parachute Jump

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