The entire length of New York’s High Line is increasingly being buried between dense blocks of mid-rise luxury residential buildings. One of the pleasures of the elevated walkway is the view it allows out to the surrounding city, but the park’s viewing spots are increasingly being blocked by new buildings replacing surface parking lots along the walkway. The 10th Avenue and 17th street overlook, with its tiered seating facing north up the broad avenue, is still one of the best public spaces in the city.
Now the Friends of the High Line, the nonprofit that runs the walkway is preparing a spectacular new viewing site along the elevated public/private park. The space is a spur off the main trunk line of the old rail bed that crosses over 10th Avenue at 30th Street. It stands dead center over 10th Avenue and allows for spectacular views up and down the wide boulevard. AN was given a tour of the still unopened spur by Cecilia Alemani from High Line Art and Adam Ganser, vice president for planning and design for the park. The overlook is set to open in April 2019 is currently being prepared to house a plinth upon which High Line Arts will place a rotating series of sculptures visible for cars driving north on the one-way boulevard.
The first art project on the plinth will be Brick House, a sixteen-foot-tall bronze bust of a black woman by Brooklyn’s Simone Leigh. The sculpture’s head, which will be clearly visible to the street below, is crowned by an afro, with cornrow braids that end with cowrie shells. The sculptor claims the female bronze is influenced by the architectural styles of “Benin, Cameroon, and Chad, a restaurant from the American South and Batammaliba architecture” from Togo. The skirted torso will have the effect of serving as an obelisk supporting a perspectival view that virtually never occurs in a city of gridded streets that never end in a public space. The overlook is the perfect place for a public viewing platform, and High Line Arts is preparing to make it the city’s next great public space.