A Vagabond's Dream: Walking the High Line

An aging vagabond poet of our city once had a strange dream about a park on an elevated old rail line, not so high above a stretch of the western part of the island.

Scene from The High Line

In the dream, the once familiar rail line was no longer overrun with weeds but had been prettified and cleaned up, with exotic trees and strange new grasses.

Scene from The High Line

Water fountains made poetic sounds, billboards were erected but with no signs, and birds alighted on strangely proportioned bird feeders made like scaffolding.

While the old tenements looked familiar to the old vagabond, other buildings of colorful glass and odd shapes jutted out over the rail line. It's curious that people would want to live so close to the hobos, he thought, and we might see them nekkid. On the other hand, these hobos walking with him looked well-dressed, and many carried books and children. Many of the ladies wore pants.

Scene from the High Line

Scene from the High Line

Scene from the High Line

The rail underfoot has vanished for the most part, appearing only here and there. "How's the train going to move through?," wondered the poet.

In the dream, the word "gallery" appeared on the front of many buildings near here. These places did not look at all like the museum galleries uptown off the park. No, not like the big museum at all. Looking over the railings and down to the street, the vagabond saw banners with strange images on the lamp posts, yet, pleasingly, the tavern looked like a tavern to him. He figured that the poorest artists had moved out of the Village, the place where poets live, and had been sleeping in these places that made biscuits.

Scene from the High Line

A couple of sights from the high line were the stuff of dreams or hallucinations. The vagabond poet dreamed that one day someone would sell good coffee up here, if only to help figure things out.

Scene from The High Line

The vagabond poet awoke slowly from the dream. The sound of a train whistle woke him up. But he thought he wasn't finished with the dream, as there seemed to be one more part of the high line he hadn't explored, somewhere out beyond the railyard that curves yonder to the river. And so he went back to sleep, just to see if he could get there.


Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from Sunday morning, June 12, 2011. Many more in this set on Flickr WOTBA. Section 2 of the High Line opened last week. The landscape architecture firm, James Corner Field Operations, designed the High Line with the architects Diller Scofidio & Renfro. Dreamers may find the official website here.

In the meantime, readers of this blog may consult the embedded map of the High Line and vacinity.

View Near The High Line in a larger map


  1. Thanks for the little tour. We came from the flora, so it's only natural to recreate.


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