Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stroll


video

Pop Up Lunch is about creating places to eat but more than that, it is a celebration of potential.

On that note - my husband and I went for a stroll this weekend on the High Line. I know, I know - so much has already been said about this magical gem of a strolling ground. But I don't want to talk about its design, I want to talk about the visible shift in human behavior that seems to come out of its design.

If the term "pleasant" could be visualized and brought to life, it would be the High Line. It was as if the space itself had a calming effect and everyone was on their best behavior. It was extremely crowded, but no one was irritated or pushing. No one was in a rush, everyone was there to stroll. Cell phones and other digital devices were put down for the moment. It was like urban catnip.

We were surrounded by people from all ages and walks of life - tourists, natives, romantics, entire families and even teens (when is the last time I saw a teenager in the city??!!!). It offers great people-watching but it also offers more than that. It offers a reminder that it is a great big world out there and it would do all of us well to get out of our little bubbles a little more often.

I had heard about a woman who was suing (Friends of the High Line?, the City?, Field Operations?) because she had tripped while she was on the High Line. I do understand how she tripped. There are indeed gaps and I was so engaged in the views surrounding me that I almost went down a couple of times. But it seemed like a small price to pay for such a rewarding experience. Maybe I'd feel differently if I'd gotten hurt...

But maybe the gaps in the walkway are not a problem to be fixed but a design element to which we need to get better acclimated. Because when you are on the High Line, it feels almost too good to be true. It is as if we aren't used to public spaces this interesting, and we are still a little bit star-struck, a little bit clumsy. We don't usually have to take in so much at once. We don't usually have to watch our step and stay on our toes.

In time, I am sure that the High Line experience will become a little more natural to us, a little more familiar. But I hope that it will always keep us inspired and engaged.

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