At the beginning of 2000 – 2002, a close friend lived on W 23rd St. @ 10th Avenue. Visiting him was always an event, based on the uncertainty of finding the car, parked where it was left. That section of Chelsea was desolate & deserted and one needed tremendous fortitude to venture out after dark. What has evolved over the past 16yrs, is nothing short of astounding. Namely, the development of the ‘el’ overpass (aka the highline) which sat derelict for nearly 2 decades after the last train ran in 1980. A group of New Yorkers calling themselves ‘friends of the high line’ was formed in 1999, and the rest … is history.
*The High Line rises 3 stories, spanning 22 city blocks from Gansevoort St. in Chelsea through Hells Kitchen. What was once a virtual wilderness in the middle of the city, has become one of its most innovative developments. It has evoked, for me personally, a renewed love for NYC and as you may have already guessed, I’ve had an ongoing love affair with New York City throughout my life. The HL is a masterpiece of industrial design, with a slightly rusty and slightly dark aesthetic. Through a pictorial history by Joel Sternfeld, the Highline project was led by Joshua David and embraced by a group of high minded, well healed and environmentally conscious New Yorkers.
The designers involved, mainly Diller Scofidio + Renfro, intentionally created ‘slow paths’ for visitors, in order to keep the pace in harmony with the plantings & views. The gardeners involved in the project maintained a high level of environmental sensitivity, using greenery that would change with the seasons. Back in time to 1846, freight trains shared the streets with wholesale meat markets, and as recently as the early 2000’s, the meat packing district was still home to these wholesalers. Sides of beef hanging on metal hooks in the middle of Little W 12th Street, was a typical siting. My daughter complained of feeling nauseated by the smell of beef, as she dined one summer night at Pastis.
The price of seeing and being seen.
The Chelsea Market, formerly the Nabisco Building, is the home to a variety of artisanal food vendors & specialty shops. Due to the foresight of designer Diane von Furstenberg, who brought her global headquarters to W 14th in ’97, the Meatpacking District is now the hippest fashion hub in the city, having been transformed from grit to glamor. The generosity of CSX Transportation, the company that purchased the abandoned tracks in ’98, was among the first to introduce the idea of creating a ‘public park’. Tremendous credit is also given to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for helping turn a vision into a reality.
In tribute to the High Line, and in keeping with outstanding NYC gardens, I’ve decided to highlight one of my favorite film locations. As a result of the distinct reputation the meatpacking district has earned, it’s become synonymous w. trendy boutiques, restaurants, clubs & more.. in other words ‘hangouts for the wannabes’, and those, who don’t necessarily aspire to be, believing they have arrived. For many others, it is simply called home. One of my favorite representations of home is that of retired banker Stephen K Mueller, whose duplex on W 14th Street is a perfect example of
open air living in the midst of the pulsating & vibrant area surrounding the meatpacking district. When I first met Steve, he was undergoing irrigation issues on his duplexed terraces.
For those of you unfamiliar with Manhattan real estate, irrigation issues is not a frequently talked about coop / condo issue !
Seems that after returning from travels abroad, the company responsible for keeping his gardens tended, left the automated system in ‘off’ mode. What resulted were 2 levels of dried out trees, shrubs and plants. To add to this misery, NYC had just experienced a debilitating heat wave. Fortunately, all was finally restored & the terraces’ River Birches, Bayberry bushes and Black Pines are thriving once again.
After attending NYU, this Maryland native knew that he’d be planting roots in Manhattan. He made the decision to settle in the Gramercy Park area, but after 11 years his spirit needed a change. The areas surrounding the West Village & Chelsea held tremendous appeal. Its convenience to subway lines, Penn Station, the Hudson River, a variety of ethnic restaurants and a lively nightlife, made Steve’s decision clear. He was equally taken by the quaint and charming townhouses lining its streets. and of course the High Line, which has been a tremendous draw for buyers seeking this unique
slice of lower Manhattan. When first viewing the Penthouse, he was initially attracted by the stellar views of the downtown skyline, the extraordinary light and open feel. However, the piece de resistance, was the potential for creating a unique landscaped garden covering 2 terrace levels in over 800 square feet.. by Manhattan standards, the size of a large 1BR apartment.
Upon completion of a gut renovation, including landscaping, Steve was finally ready to open the doors. He hosts parties for up to 200 guests several times a year. Equally impressive is his vinyl collection exceeding 5000 records, displayed behind his personal DJ booth.
The unusual amenities in this duplex apartment, would intrigue even the most jaded New Yorkers.
And as for those fahionistas who enjoy prancing on cobblestone streets, the Meatpacking District will make you feel right at home !
*excerpts from Treasures of New York/ Great Museums