Archive for the 'Site Observations' Category

No Escape from the City

Sep 27 2011 Published by under Site Essay,Site Observations

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.

No responses yet

A Hasty Apology

Sep 26 2011 Published by under Site Creative,Site Observations

Told me not to tell anyone.

Secret amongst the few,

it should remain.


But how could I not share?

Awe-inspiring wonders.


Vivid descriptions

of green and rust,



I tasted

at the tip of my tongue.

Spit them out with vigor.


How could I divine?


Induced by the masses,

clean and corrupt.


Now I must believe.

Happiness is genuine.


The secrets out.

And I’m sorry.



No responses yet