The High Line is the distressed skinny jeans of public parks, the gourmet taco truck of urban tourist attractions, and as such, it represents the high-water mark of the hipster aesthetic, which venerates poverty and decay as signifiers of authenticity.
No, no, no, no, no, NOOOOO! The High Line looks like a condominium. It is surrounded by condominiums and hotels that look like condominiums. No “hipsters” live in condominiums because condominiums cost lots and lots of money, which “hipsters” do not have, which is the reason why “hipsters” certainly do not “spend thousands on clothes skillfully designed to look like they were found in a dumpster [sic*].”
This is a STRAW MAN and a sloppily constructed one at that, unless of course you’re trying to draw connections between this bizarre symbol of our postindustrial service (and experience) economy to Those Darn Kids. As anyone who has removed his head from his ass before visiting the High Line would have noticed, the park has more to do with Spaniards and Italians than it does hipsters.
What the piece doesn’t mention about the High Line is that it’s a (CORRECTION: I had written that the park is “for-profit” which isn’t true. It is a lucrative private operation, but officially a nonprofit) private park, and maybe THAT’S what’s strange about it. Sure, aesthetically, the differences between the High Line and Central Park are striking, but maybe the fact that Robert Hammond, the park’s CEO or whatever-the-fuck, takes home substantially more than parks commissioner Adrian Benepe for overseeing, say, 10,000 times fewer acres of park land is what is truly remarkable about the park. But still, aesthetically, the park has as much to do with “hipsters” as the Standard Hotel does, which is to say: not at all. (And I’m not talking about Le Bain here — I mean the hotel.)
What I have found, the couple times out-of-towners have asked me to go with them to see the High Line, is that, like you might expect from a former railroad, you zip right through it. It’s over before you know it. Unlike the pleasure gardens of yesteryear, the High Line is not a place to waste a lazy afternoon; it is an experience to be consumed. Maybe some day they’ll charge an entrance fee.
In an effort to be kind here, I will say the piece is very well written and right, at times, about What The High Line Means — we do fetishize industrial grit now that we no longer deal with its ugliness. The High Line is an expression of this, I guess, though it looks more like a condo’s 12th floor tastefully xenoscaped roof deck than anything actually gritty. Aside from its zeitgeistiness, the High Line is a smart and creative (and profitable) reuse of something that would otherwise be gone forever. Whatever is wrong with the park — there’s plenty — hipsters and gentrification have nothing to do with it. I don’t like being around so many European tourists and amateur fashion photographers, so I just don’t go there. I recommend the author do the same.
This is the first entry in what I think will be an ongoing series here on I Don’t Know, Man, called Why Do New Yorkers Constantly Say Dumb Things About Gentrification?
*Dumpster is always capitalized, broh.
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