Citation
Deconstructing the High Line

Material Information

Title:
Deconstructing the High Line the representation and reception of nature in post-industrial urban park design
Creator:
McEntee, Patsy
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
1 electronic file. : ;

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Picturesque, The, in architecture ( lcsh )
Parks -- New York (State) ( lcsh )
High Line (New York, N.Y. : Park) ( lcsh )
Genre:
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Review:
The aim of this thesis is to study how nature is represented and perceived through the lens of cultural values which influence the development, design and reception of public park spaces. This research uses the High Line in New York City (designed by Field Operations and DillerScofidio + Renfro) as a case study to explore how underlying values about nature have influenced its development as an elevated rail, an abandoned infrastructure and now a celebrated model for reuse as a park. In 2009 the space was opened to the public as a re-interpreted eco-typical botanic garden portraying an idealized nature and showcasing "wild nature"as its own aesthetic. Drawing from Semiotic and Reception theory, this thesis analyzes how modes of representation have been used to construct particular meanings and ideologies about the landscape. These values are revealed through the semiotic manifestation of both material and immaterial signs which influence a visitor's reception and experience of nature. The development of the High Line exemplifies the polarity between the cultural ideal of the static and orderly garden and the messy processes of wild nature. This thesis argues that while the space's history as a "wilderness" inspired its preservation, its design and development indicate a continued value for the idealized representation of nature through Picturesque representation and the selective editing of site history.
Thesis:
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Colorado Denver. Landscape architecture
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographic references.
General Note:
Department of Landscape Architecture
Statement of Responsibility:
by Patsy McEntee.

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|University of Colorado Denver
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|Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
858280525 ( OCLC )
ocn858280525

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Full Text
DECONSTRUCTING THE HIGH LINE:
THE REPRESENTATION AND RECEPTION OF NATURE IN
POST-INDUSTRIAL URBAN PARK DESIGN
by
Patsy McEntee
B.A., Binghampton University, 1995
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Landscape Architecture
2012


This thesis for the Master of Landscape Architecture
degree by
Patsy McEntee
has been approved
by
Joern Langhorst
Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture
College of Architecture and Planning
University of Colorado at Denver
Anthony Mazzeo
Senior Instructor of Landscape Architecture
College of Architecture and Planning
University of Colorado at Denver
Charles Chase
Director of Landscape Architecture Studies
at College of Architecture and Planning,
University of Colorado at Boulder
April 12. 2012
Date


McEntee, Patsy (MLA)
Deconstructing the High Line:
The Representation and Reception of Nature
in Post-Industrial Urban Park Design
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Joern Langhorst
ABSTRACT
The aim of this thesis is to study how nature is represented and perceived
through the lens of cultural values which influence the development, design and
reception of public park spaces. This research uses the High Line in New York
City (designed by Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro) as a case study
to explore how underlying values about nature have influenced its development
as an elevated rail, an abandoned infrastructure and now a celebrated model for
reuse as a park. In 2009 the space was opened to the public as a re-interpreted
eco-typical botanic garden portraying an idealized nature and showcasing wild
nature as its own aesthetic. Drawing from Semiotic and Reception theory, this
thesis analyzes how modes of representation have been used to construct
particular meanings and ideologies about the landscape. These values are
revealed through the semiotic manifestation of both material and immaterial signs
which influence a visitors reception and experience of nature.
The development of the High Line exemplifies the polarity between the
cultural ideal of the static and orderly garden and the messy processes of wild
nature. This thesis argues that while the spaces history as a wilderness
inspired its preservation, its design and development indicate a continued value
for the idealized representation of nature through Picturesque representation and
the selective editing of site history.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Approved by
Joern Langhorst
Associate Professor
University of Colorado at Denver


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Id like to thank my advisor, Joern Langhorst for his enthusiasm, contributions
and support of my research. Id also like to thank Department Chair Ann
Komara for her participation and assistance. I am grateful to Senior Instructor
Tony Mazzeo for his continued insight from the crossroads of theory and
practice and Charlie Chase for his instrumental voice from the field of
landscape ecology. In addition, Id like to thank the Brandeis Family for the
Thesis Scholarship in Landscape Architecture.


The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green
thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity... and
some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature
is imagination itself.
William Blake


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Figures...................................................vii
Tables .............................................. viii
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION .......................................... 1
2. METHODOLOGY............................................ 5
3. SITE DESCRIPTION AND CONTEXT........................... 11
4. THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS AND UNDERLYING CONCEPTS........21
Landscape Architecture Theory....................21
Reception Theory......................... 23
Semiotic Theory..................................26
Cultural and Ecological Performances.............28
5. LANDSCAPE AS IDEA: THE FOUR NATURES.....................31
1st Nature: Wilderness and Idealization 33
2nd Nature: Cultivated Landscape.................35
3rd The Garden: Nature and Imagination...........38
4th Nature: Hybrid Landscapes....................42
6. TRANSFORMATION: BUILDING A RECEPTIVE HISTORY OF SITE.... 44
High Line as Infrastructure, as Wilderness, as Celebrated Park
7. CONSTRUCTION AND PRODUCTION OF NATURE............... 59
A Semiotic Analysis of Landscape
8. DECONSTRUCTION (CONCLUSION)..........................76
APPENDIX
A. SEMIOTIC ANALYSIS DIAGRAM.........................83
B. HIGH LINE PARK MAP.............................. 96
C. PARK DEVELOPMENT AND DESIGN DOCUMENTS............ 97
GLOSSARY OF TERMS........................................ 105
BIBLIOGRAPHY..............................................109


LIST OF FIGURES
Figure
3.1 Context map of the High Line (2012).................................. 11
3.2 Context Map of the High Line, Section 1 with access points..........14
3.3 Timeline of the High Lines development.......................... 18-19
6.1 Looking North from 23rd St. and Ninth Avenue........................ 46
6.2 High Line/Chelsea Warehouse Marketing Ad.............................48
6.2 High Line Guerilla Gardening.........................................51
6.4 High Lines 2003 Presence from Street Grade .........................52
6.5 Joel Sternfeld: Ken Robsons Christmas Tree......................... 54
6.6 High Lines Former Main Entrance.....................................55
6.7 Joel Sternfeld: Save the Tracks Mural............................... 56
6.8 Joel Sternfeld: Ailanthus Trees..................................... 56
6.9 Wild Relics......................................................... 58
7.1 Railway Vines.........................................................59
7.2 Joel Sternfeld: Fallen Billboard.....................................62
7.3 Chelsea Grasslands...................................................62
7.4 Piet Oudolfs Planting Design Drawing ...............................66
7.5 The Urban Pastoral Landscap..........................................66
7.6-7.12 Signifying Practices in the Development of the High Line........ 66
B. 1 High Line Park Map and Regulations, Section 1 ...................... 90
C. 1.1 High Line Planting Design and Landscape Zones....................91
C. 1.2 Landscape Construction............................................92
vii


C.1.3 Plant Design Bloom Chart...............................................93
C.1.4 New Architectural Projects along the High Line.........................94
viii


LIST OF TABLES
Table
2.1 Semiotic Analysis Diagram......................................... 9
3.1 Pre-Development Financial Assessment..............................13
3.2 Post Development Financial Assessment.............................13
3.3 Construction Funding Sources......................................13
3.4 Land Use Comparisons 2002 and 2010............................... 15
3.5 NYC Park Operations Cost Comparison.............................. 16
7.1 Tenets of the Picturesque........................................ 61
A.1 Semiotic Analysis Diagram of the High Line....................... 87
C.1.1 Flora Species Found Along the High Line Pre-development (2002). 92
IX


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
The integrated perspective of nature as culture is one that dates to the
writings of Immanuel Kant and has continued as a contested subject between
scholars of the natural and social sciences ever since. In contrast with Aristotles
work which initially drove the division of nature1 and culture, the idea emphasizes
the intricacy of connection between nature and the production of human
meaning.2 This debate has polarized the objective and subjective understanding
of nature by pitting the reality and ready apprehension of nature against the truth-
value questioning of scientific knowledge.3 Most recently, the development of
sociological theory termed social constructivism views human and non-human
nature as incomprehensible outside of culturally-based knowledge schemes.4
Contemporary French sociologist Bruno Latour supports this synthesized
approach as unambiguous proof of the complex interactions between nature and
culture, contending that objectivity and subjectivity are modern myths that
support a whole host of questionable dualisms.5 As a result, nature as culture
is envisioned such that it cannot be reduced to the human perception of nature
versus nature itself. With this in mind, we struggle to negotiate the objectified
relationship that has been established through cultural modes of representation.
This conflict is exacerbated in urban environments where the need for more
green space holds greater aesthetic, social, health and economic value than in
less densely settled areas where such space is more readily available. The
urban-nature dialectic is one that has been maintained by values that have
historically communicated a reverence for the orderly appearance of nature
through the typologies of park, garden and streetscape. Such landscapes
maintain the perceived separation between the human and non-human systems
that interact outside of the spatial designations humans make for nature. In
addition, this objectified view of nature is reinforced through the material and
immaterial acts of representation which can be interpreted through a semiotic
study of our landscapes.
By studying the signs and signifying practices that are laden in the
development of a site, the values and authors of these texts may be extracted.
For centuries, the Picturesque genre of landscape design has conveyed specific
ideologies and aesthetics about the treatment of nature. For the visitor, such
landscapes blur the boundaries between what is perceived to be natural and
1 The term nature has many contexts and meanings. For this inquiry, when I talk about nature, I am only
calling it nature in the singular but am acknowledging that nature has many natures and qualities. The
nature I refer to is one that includes both human and non-human processes though the symbolic character of
language leaves the term open to interpretation. This being the case, the essence of the problem is the
interpretation of the word nature as meaning non-human biotic and abiotic systems that specifically are
exclusive of human operations.
2 University of California Santa Barbara^ New Visions of Nature, Science and Religion.
http://www.newvisions.ucsb.edu/visions/nature as culture/ index.html (accessed 4.10.12).
3 Paul R. Gross and Norman Levitt, Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994).
4 James D. Proctor, The Social Construction Of Nature: Relativist Accusations, Pragmatist And Critical Realist
Responses, Annals of the Association of American Geographers 88 no.3 (1998): 352-376.
5 Bruno Latour, Pandora's Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, 1999).
1


what is designed, thereby suggesting nature as the author of landscapes that are
anything but natural.6 This constructed nature has consequences because it
communicates an idealistic nature with particular qualities that are deemed
beautiful through the lens of culture though they may not in fact be ecologically
healthy.7 In addition, the repetition of a singular landscape genre develops an
expectation of a particular experience of nature, limiting the phenomenological
and imaginative human experience from a landscape and the richer texts
developed from its reception.8
Robert Smithson observes, The Picturesque, far from being an inner
movement of the mind, is based on real land; it precedes the mind in its material
external existence. A park can no longer be seen as a thing-in-itself, but rather
a process of ongoing relationships existing in a physical region- the park
becomes a thing-for-us. This observation supports what John Dixon Hunt has
termed the Reception of Nature.9 This perspective treats landscape as a
narrative from which every visitor reads a text. The text is largely shaped by
cultural constructs, but it is also shaped by their own individual experiences and
presuppositions of what nature is and how it performs. The narrative that is
written through the practice of landscape architecture uses a combination of
form, material, space and geophysical characteristics as a means of shaping the
story. It exists temporally and on many scales: it has multiple histories because it
includes the history of the space while concurrently including the visitors history,
memory, values, and their current and future experiences of the site.
This thesis will analyze the High Line in New York Citys Chelsea
neighborhood (designed by Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro) as an
urban post-industrial site that has undergone both cultural and ecological
succession and is now a model for infrastructural re-use. The High Line is a
mechanism for the expression of cultural values and by studying it much can be
learned about the role and perception of nature in our contemporary urban
landscape. The High Line as a post-industrial site is part of a larger context, the
succession of obsolete sites and infrastructural networks in urban centers across
the U.S. Cycles of development, use and abandonment have become recognized
more clearly in the post-industrial era as large tracts of urban areas have been
subject to abandonment and neglect through disuse. These patterns of neglect
have revealed ecological opportunities and the availability for processes of plant
succession and the messiness of nature to take hold.10 In urban areas where the
landscape is constituted of rigid architectural forms and is planned for human
density and the efficient movement of people and goods, the disorderly form of
wild nature is an anomaly, juxtaposed with our own preferences for organized
urban systems. While the existence of weed species in these areas have often
been viewed as indicators of abandonment by humans, their proliferation is often
curtailed by redevelopment within a short enough time period that opportunities
6 Susan Herrington, "Framed Again: The Picturesque Aesthetics of Contemporary Landscapes," Landscape Journal 25
(March 2006): 24.
7Joan Nassauer, "Messy Ecosystems, Orderly Frames," Landscape Journal 14 (1995): 161-170.
8 Susan Herrington, "Framed Again: The Picturesque Aesthetics of Contemporary Landscapes," Landscape Journal 25
(March 2006): 24.
9John Dixon Hunt, The Afterlife of Gardens (Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004).16.
10 J.P. Collins et a I, "A New Urban Ecology," American Scientist, 88 (2000): 422.


for further successional use by species through the development of shrubs and
small trees are eliminated quickly.11 The history of the High Line features this
stage of transition as one that influenced a change in the human relationship with
the urban wilderness, in its transformation from eyesore to icon, creating
opportunities while concurrently driving efforts for demolition.
Though its implementation took 50 years to come to fruition, in 1932 the
elevated railway viaduct was a symbol of modernism and technological progress,
a feat of engineering that produced environmental benefits for the community.
Commercial activity sustained its use for another 50 years when shifting
transportation infrastructure favored the trucking industry over rail. By 1980 the
structure, neglected and forgotten in a primarily industrial district, became a relic
that the City chose to ignore. The derelict space developed new uses and
meanings as it became a transgressive space for illicit activities and the
occasional guerilla garden. Its deteriorating skeleton was viewed as an obstacle
to business growth while it concurrently became a petri dish for successional
processes to interact with human habitats. This hybrid landscape became a
wilderness for multiple living systems.12
Since the late 1990s, visual representation practices have had a
significant role in the High Lines development, preservation, design,
maintenance, publicity, urban planning, and use. By 2005, a 20-year long battle
within the neighborhood to demolish the structure resulted in its preservation, but
not without the iconic representation of the space as a wilderness. From 1999-
2000 art photographer Joel Sternfeld photographed it, revealing it as a
melancholic and otherworldly space, pristine and authentic.13 This act of
representing an unkempt, wild nature that took hold in the midst of Manhattan
transformed cultural views of the space from neglected human domain to that of
wilderness, inspiring its transformation.14 By iconifying it, describing it and
marketing it as such, a neighborhood preservation effort started by two people
became a massive economic juggernaut, backed by NYCs fashion, design and
Hollywood elite. In one swoop of powerful landscape imagery, a space with a
varied past of both celebrated and sordid human activity became objectified as a
romantic and imaginary realm of nature, devoid of people, transgressive and
mythical.
The High Line also reveals the economic implications of park
development, and the effects of neighborhood rezoning and environmental
justice for communities. While the High Line cultivated a donor society of wealthy
Manhattanites eager to support a high design park of private-public partnership,15
11 J.P. Collins et a I, "A New Urban Ecology," American Scientist, 88 (2000): 418.
12 Before site demolition, horticultural taxonomist Scott D. Appell of the Historical Society of New York inventoried the
species on the site. There are personal accounts of how people in the neighborhood used and viewed the site. Because
there was never a study completed to inventory the kinds of wildlife and insects that were found in the abandoned
space, we are unable to confirm the variations in fauna and insects that have changed site over the course of its
transformation. As a result, the inventoried species may be described but with the assumption that varying species of
birds and insects co-habited the site in order to propagate the ecosystem that grew there.
13 YouTube Website, "New York Voices: Joel Sternfeld," 4 March 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch2v =INzr7g8FQgk
(accessed December 12, 2011).
14 Adam Gopnik, "A Walk on the High Line: The Allure of a Derelict Railroad Track in Spring," Joel Sternfeld (ed.) Walking
the High Line (New York: Steidl Pace McGill Gallery, 2001),48-9.
15 Alex Ulam, et al., "Back On Track: Bold Design Moves Transform A Defunct Railroad Into a 21st-Century Park,"
Landscape Architecture 99 (2009):95.
3


it is questionable if the long term maintenance of such a park is feasible. At
$672,000 an acre to operate annually, it is NYCs costliest park to maintain, with
the average park costing $9,555 an acre.16 The redevelopment of post-industrial
sites into fashionable new parks also has far-reaching consequences to the
diverse and low-income neighborhoods that have nurtured their community for so
long. Like Central Park, the planning of parks for the initial purpose of providing
urban communities with social, recreation and health benefits quickly spurred
higher-income commercial and housing developments, displacing their original
inhabitants. Such communities that are in the greatest need of parks are soon
priced out of their own neighborhood once the parks are built.
The High Line is significant because of its role as an idealized model of
infrastructural re-use and urban renewal. Cities both nationally and internationally
have struggled with what to do with defunct urban infrastructural networks and
too often the tendency has been to demolish and build anew. Many U.S. cities
are looking to re-create the public space through similar projects in their own
urban landscapes from obsolete or soon to be outdated infrastructural elements;
Detroit, Atlanta and Memphis are interested in applying the model to their
outmoded transportation structures.17 Similar projects are also being discussed
for Chicago (Bloomingdale Trail), Philadelphia (Reading Viaduct), Jersey City
(the Sixth Street Embankment) and St. Louis (the Iron Horse Trestle).
This thesis looks at the complexity of the reception of nature and the
numerous layers of cultural information that builds a viewers response to
landscape. The chapters of this thesis have been constructed in a similar
fashion. Site History (Ch 3) and Theoretical Foundations (Ch 4) create a
groundwork for the exploration of Landscape as Idea (Ch5). Chapter 5 analyzes
the production of ideas regarding nature through the lens of the four natures.
Chapter 6, Transformation elaborates on the building of a reception of site,
emphasizing the human and non-human forces that shaped the High Line while
taking note of aspects of its development that were either emphasized or
dismissed in its new role as public space. Finally, Chapter 7 The Construction
and Production of Nature highlights the cultural values of the Picturesque that are
pervasive in the High Line and can be identified through the site by way of a
semiotic analysis.
The High Line provides a valuable site for studying an urban
infrastructural corridor whose meaning has been transformed by the human and
non-human processes acting on a site over time. Despite the undeniable role of
humans within this ecosystem, this landscape has been re-created as one that is
separate from nature through modes of representation, with design playing a
primary role in framing this perception. The High Line provides a unique
opportunity to understand landscape architecture as an evolving practice whose
tactics should be further challenged and explored as a medium for the
propagation of cultural ideals.
16 Rich Calder, "Sky High Costs" New York Post, 10 August 2009, http://www.nypost.com
/p/news/regional/skv high costs iWavNI68fwWJ3YVGVNIOhL (accessed October 12, 2011).
17 Kate Taylor,"The High Line, a Pioneer Aloft, Inspires Other Cities to Look Up," The New York Times, 15 July 2010,
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/15/arts/design/15highline.html (accessed March 10, 2012).
4


CHAPTER 2
METHODOLOGY
Method
A single case study of the High Line in New York Citys
Chelsea/Meatpacking District will be presented in this document. A study of this
park highlights the polarities between the cultural perception of ecological
beauty and that of ecological health and the modes of representation that
promote this differential. This case study will have multiple units of analysis in
order to analyze the different modes of representation which influence a visitors
experience of a site. The complexities of historical, ecological and social factors
that are present in the High Line are represented through:
1. Development of archival research
2. Development of relative theory
3. A semiotic analysis of landscape elements, park development practices
and design development documents. Production of diagrams that analyze
relationships.
4. Informational interviews
The collection of qualitative research followed Robert Yins criteria for
research design quality,18also summarized by L. Kidder and Judd.19 Research
was collected and analyzed to construct and determine internal validity.
Theoretical foundations for the research were established and tested to
determine external validity. A case study protocol and database was created for
the collection and analysis of the research in order to demonstrate the reliability
and diligence of the data compilation.
/. Archival Research
Sources of Information have included: Design development drawings,
public process meeting minutes, planning documents, books, photography
(marketing, art-photography, informational, historical), web-based articles, You-
tube videos, newspaper articles, and magazine and journal articles.
The history of the High Line is well documented regarding its
development and inception. The events surrounding efforts to preserve and/or
demolish the structure are even more so though conflicting information regarding
public safety and health issues due to the degradation of the High Line was
laundered in the mass-media. Socio-economic implications for the local
community as well as local
8 Robert K. Yin, Case Study Research : Design and Methods. Applied Social Research Methods Series (Thousand Oaks,
Calif.: Sage Publications, 2003), 35-41.
19 Judd T. Kidder, Research methods in Social Relations (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1986), 26-29.
5


businesses and landowners are ever-present in the community meeting minutes
and planning documents that exist. The rise of celebrity of the Friends of the High
Line founders and the strategies to gain support for the park was a highly visible
series of promotional events. As was the well-publicized design competition to
generate ideas for the park. As noted previously, media coverage in anticipation
of the park and since its opening in 2009 is endless and multifaceted, illustrating
how the High Line has become its own cultural juggernaut.
II. Development of Relevant Theory
A body of theoretical literature was developed for the purposes of
analyzing this research. The application of this theory provides context for
understanding how the research is presented and the framing of the argument
through the lens of Reception and Semiotic Theory. Landscape architecture
theory provides a historical context for the values about non-human nature as it
has developed in the U.S. This literature is summarized in Chapter 4.
III. Semiotic Analysis and Diagram Development
Both physical/material and non-material signs graphically, spatially and
conceptually illustrate the semiotic relationships evident on the site. In addition to
photographic representation collected during site visits during the past year,
photographic imagery was collected from its early history as an active railroad as
well as during its abandonment. The art photographer Joel Sternfeld was hired to
capture the wild space in 2000 and his work has also been instrumental for
analysis. The Friends of the High Line maintain a website that functions in a
variety of ways: besides posting historical, regulatory, media-related and
programmatic information about the High Line, it also provides an interactive
online database for photo-imagery. Visitors to the High Line are able to upload
their own photography to the site. Despite being a small representation of the
number of visitors, this publicized imagery exemplifies the subject matter and
types of experience that is interpreted from the site.
IV. Informational Interviews
Many of the desired interviews for this research project could not be
performed because of a lack of responsiveness on the part of the interviewees or
their organizations, specifically Friends of the High Line and Field Operations. At
the start of the research phase, the objective had been to perform informational
interviews with the stakeholders and designers of the space in order to extract
the nuances of cultural values that shaped and directed the design intent during
design development. Multiple attempts were made to make contact with the
designers of the High Line. Requests for interviews and specific information from
landscape architects from Field Operations went unanswered, as did information
and interviews requested from Piet Oudolf, the planting designer. Various
stakeholders including the City of New York Parks and Recreation Department,
and additional staff of the Friends of the High Line were all unresponsive to
requests for interviews and documentation.
6


The High Lines caretaker, Friends of the High Line (FHL), is more than
the custodian, fundraiser and operations entity for the park. They are also the
communications coordinator for everything to do with the High Line. From
programming to media coverage to design queries to visitation and public
process, one individual from FHL, Kate Lindquist, fields every question. Any
contractor that worked on the project has been directed to withhold information
without a directive from Lindquist. FHL has provided me with a list of potential
contacts; however, the organization itself was reluctant to provide me a contact
due to an overwhelming number of requests. Johnny Linville, Horticulture
Forman for FHL was a source of an abundant amount of information about the
construction, maintenance and design of Phases 1 and 2. Through a series of
interviews via phone and a site tour of the space, Linville was an instrumental
source for understanding the current landscape maintenance regimes,
operations protocol, gardening practices and relations with the public visitors.
Communication about the High Line has always been highly visual, from
the early efforts to save the structure with the rallying efforts of neighborhood
postings to the distinctive logo development which gave credence to an unfunded
but highly connected community organization (the newly established FHL in
1999). This is evidenced through the use of powerful photo-imagery by Joel
Sternfeld, the wide range of photography captured by visitors strolling the narrow
corridors of the space and the views recorded from the roofs of adjacent
buildings. Such viewpoints have provided unique perspectives of this space over
time and have been significant in influencing the modes of representation of the
High Line.
Methods of Chapter Analysis
Chapter 5 Landscape as Idea: The Four Natures:
Chapter 5 analyzes the production of ideas regarding nature through the
lens of the four natures and the language that has been used to shape values
and human responses. This chapter uses Chapter 4 Theoretical Foundations to
build a foundation for understanding the cultural constructs of imagining nature.
Chapter 6 Transformation: Building a Receptive History of Site:
A true receptive history would include for the individual visitor an
understanding of the sites history. Those who live in Chelsea no doubt would
carry with them a much more thorough and in depth account of peoples
relationship with the site over time. Archival research regarding the High Line has
been exponential since the parks development, but the two other significant
periods of time that the space has evolved through has been significantly
underdeveloped in cultural recordings and representation. As far as cultural
representation goes, the history of the High Line began in the popular media only
at the point when Joel Sternfeld produced and marketed his art photography of
the space. Prior to that point, the High Line was as good as forgotten since in


many ways it had already been dismissed as a pending demolition. Because of
this, there exists a need to represent this history that is so critical to
understanding the palimpsest of this site. As a result, Chapter 6 employs a
variety of historical accounts and interviews in an effort to recreate the processes
that acted on the site over time, processes that shaped its development and the
responses that people had to natures wild acts of defiance.
Chapter 1 Construction and Production of Nature
There are two layers of analysis that are done to extract information from
the High Lines design and development. The first layer is the semiotic analysis
and the second layer is the identification and categorization of signs and
signifying practices into categories of Picturesque qualities.
The diagram which analyzes the signs and signifying practices identified
in the development and design of the High Line can be found as Appendix A. The
table is included below and notes the table headings and information type
relevant to each sign being evaluated. The third row explains the type of
information, how the information is derived and lists questions that are relevant to
semiotic analysis and modes of representation. As with any semiotic
interpretation, signs may signify multiple concepts and can fall under multiple
modes of representation (index, icon, and symbol). I also acknowledge that I am
the individual who is performing this analysis and that I bring along my own set of
values to the interpretation. Regardless of this, the values that I have identified
are strong cultural values that underlie a human world that is American and
capitalist. Because I bring this same background to the analysis, I aim to extract
the values that are part of my own culture.
For this analysis, the semiotic theory of Saussure will be used, offering a
dyadic sign: where the sign is composed of the signifier and the signified:20
The signifier is the form which the sign takes.
The signified is the mental concept represented by the signifier.
While a broadly Saussurean framework is being applied in this analysis,
Peircean distinctions will be used. I am adopting this model with the
understanding that the form need not be physical; it may be material or
immaterial as supported by Peirce.21 Peirces conceptual modes of icon, index
and symbol are important means of investigation in the interpretation of the
varying types of relationships that exist between the signifier and the signified.
The recognition of icon, index and symbol reveal the degree to which the form
identified represents the concept, and thereby how direct or arbitrary that
relationship is. It is important to note that Peirces semiotic theory recognizes that
signs can be anything (material or immaterial) as long as it mediates between its
object and an interpretant; icons, indices and symbols are classes by which signs
20 Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: the Basics (New York: Routledge, 2002), 18.
21 Paul Cobley, Semiotics: The Routledge Companion (New York: Routledge, 2010), 92-93.
8


relate to its object.22 Based on the nature of arbitrariness related to Saussures
system of signs, those that study semiotics emphasize that the relationship
between the signified and the signifier is dependent on learned social and
cultural practices.23 As a result, the ability to interpret signs amid the conceptual
modes of icon, index and symbol is reliant on the strength of the conventionality
of the sign. That is, an interpreters ability to read the signifier from the signified is
based on how well that relationship has been acquired through cultural practice.
The table of contemporary Picturesque tenets which I am using to evaluate the
signs that have been identified is included in Chapter 1 The Construction and
Production of Nature.24
Following is the Semiotic analysis table describing how the research was
interpreted:
Table 2.1 Semiotic Analysis Diagram
Modes of Relationship (Between the signifier and the signified)
Signifier (Material or immaterial representation or signifying practice) Description Signified (The concept the form represents) Index (Nature of connection: causal or physical) Iconic (Resembling or imitating, posessing similar qualities) Symbolic (Signifier does not resemble the signified- learned relationship)
Photographic representation of the sign or signifying practice is included in this cell. Description of signifier What is the concept or concepts that the signifier communicates? Indexical modes exhibit direct relationships between the signifier and the signified Is the signifier perceived as resembling or imitating the signified, being similar in possessing some of its qualities. Icons include all metaphor and photographic/ visual representation. Is this a mode in which the signifier does not resemble the signified but is arbitrary so that the relationship must be learned? (All language is symbolic).
22 Idem.
23 Paul Cobley, Semiotics: The Routledge Companion (New York: Routledge, 2010), 31.
24 See Chapter 4, Theoretical Foundations for the foundations of thought driving the Picturesque. Re-interpretations and
contributions to this theory can be found in: Susan Herrington, "Framed Again: The Picturesque Aesthetics of
Contemporary Landscapes," Landscape Journal 25 (March 2006): 24.
9


This thesis looks at the complexity of the cultural information represented
in the landscape in building a viewers reception of nature, both prior, during and
after an initial experience. The chapters of this thesis have been constructed in a
similar fashion. Site History (Ch 3) and Theoretical Foundations (Ch 4) created a
groundwork for the exploration of Landscape as Idea (Ch5). This Chapter
analyzes the production of ideas regarding nature through the lens of the four
natures and the language that has been used to shape values and human
responses. Chapter 6 Transformation elaborates on the building of a reception of
site, emphasizing the human and non-human forces that shaped the site while
taking note of aspects of its development that were either emphasized or
dismissed in its new role as public space. Finally, Chapter 7 Construction and
Production of Nature highlights key cultural values that are communicated
through the site by way of a semiotic analysis.
10


CHAPTER 3
SITE DESCRIPTION AND CONTEXT
LOCATION25
West Side of Manhattan, Chelsea/Meatpacking Districts, New York, NY, USA
Section 1: Gansevoort Street to 20th Street (This case study is limited to
Phase 1)
Section 2: 20th Street to 30th Street
Section 3: West Side Rail Yards: 30th to 34th Streets (This portion of the line
was only recently secured in 2011)
SIZE26
Section 1: 2.79 acres, 9 blocks, .5 mile
Section 2: 2.14 acres, 10 blocks, .5 mile
Section 3: 2.15 acres, .45 mile
Total length: 1.45 miles without Post Office spur
Total: 6.7 acres, 22 blocks, 1.45 mile
25 The High Line, "High Line_ Press_info_Collated, March 15, 2011," http://www.thehighline.org/news/press-archive
(accessed April 2, 2011).
26 Design Trust for Public Space, Reclaiming the High Line, 2002, 7,
http://www.designtrust.org/pubs/01_Reclaiming_High_Line.pdf, (Accessed 2.10.2012).
11


Park Precedent
While the media touts the High Line as the first elevated linear park built
on old railroad track, this is only true in the U.S. The idea originated in Paris in
1988 with the design of the Promenade Plantee, a 2.8-mile-long series of
gardens built atop an abandoned railway viaduct in the Right Banks 12th
Arrondissement. The design of the Promenade Plantee is formal and balanced
with a linear walkway as the axis. The park is anchored on one end by the Opera
Bastille and the other is Bois de Vincennes. Like the High Line, the Promenade
Plantee is also set compactly amongst the architecture of buildings.27
Economic Impacts
The High Line is managed by Friends of the High Line, a non-profit,
private partner to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The
501(c) (3) non-profit was founded in 1999 by two neighborhood residents,
Joshua David and Robert Hammond to advocate for the High Line's preservation
when the structure was under threat of demolition. It is set up in the same way as
the Central Park Conservancy, as a public-private partnership. Friends of the
High Line provide over 90 percent of the parks annual operating budget,
responsible for maintenance of the park, and public programming pursuant to a
license agreement with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
FHL also led the design process for the High Line's transformation to a public
park, partnering with the City of New York on an international design competition
that eventually selected the team of James Corner Field Operations (landscape
architecture) and Diller Scofidio + Renfro (architecture).28 FHL is responsible for
all staffing except for security, which is the sole staff responsibility of the City of
New York Parks and Recreation Department.29
Pre-Development 30and Post Development Financial Assessments31
Requests made to the Friends of the High Line for specific financial data
related to construction and operations of the park went unanswered. In 1992,
amidst the Chelsea property owners' efforts to remove the High Line, the Surface
Transportation Board had required that all funding for demolition be secured prior
to the project, a cost of $100 million.32
27 Witold Rybczynski, "Bringing the High Line Back to Earth," New York Times, May 14, 2011.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/opinion/15Rybczynski.html (accessed 10.10.11).
28 The High Line, "About Friends of the High Line," http://www.thehighline.org/ about/friends-of-the-high-line (accessed
March 12, 2012).
29 Kate Lindquist, Telephone interview with Patsy McEntee-Shaffer. Boulder, CO, December 8, 2011.
30 Joshua David, Robert Hammond. High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky, (New York: Farrar, Straus
and Giroux, 2011), 46.
31 Kristina Shevory, "Cities Seethe OtherSide of theTracks," New York Times, August 2, 2011,
http://www.nytimes.eom/2011/08/03/realestate/commerdal/dties-see-another-side-to-old-
tracks. html?_r=3andadxnnl=landref=realestateandsrc=meandadxnnlx=1331607737-UIMel7TrUFH7pq
OqwCdRAandpagewanted=print (accessed December 10, 2011)
32 Design Trust for Public Space, "Reclaiming the High Line" (2002), 71,
http://www.designtrust.org/pubs/01_Reclaiming_High_Line.pdf (accessed 2.10.2012).
12


Table 3.1 Pre-Development Financial Assessment
Estimated construction costs (Sections 1 and 2) Estimated revenue from tax revenue increases
$65 million to build Financial analysis indicated that the High Line could spur development and add an additional $250 million in incremental tax benefits to NYC over 20yrs.33
This study was completed by HRandA Advisors, John H. Alschuler (who was the current
board of directors of FHL in 2009).
Table 3.2 Post Development Financial Assessment
Actual construction costs (Sections 1 and 2) Real estate development
$153 million to build $2 billion in new developments In 5 yrs since construction started, 29 new projects created, including 2500 new residential units, 1000 hotel rooms, 500,000 sqft of office and gallery space, an estimated $900 million in new residential and commercial development.34
Table 3.3 Funding of High Line Construction
Construction Funding sources35 Contribution
City of New York $112.2 million
Federal Government $20.3 million
State of New York $400,000
Caledonia, developers of an adjacent luxury apartment building. Contribution was in exchange for zoning rights which enabled them to add more floor area to their building $6.9 million
Friends of High Line, including other private and corporate funding sources $13.2 million
Total design and construction cost of Sections 1 and 2 (Construction took place from April 2006-June 2009) $153 million
Alex Ulam et al., "Back On Track: Bold Design Moves Transform A Defunct Railroad Into A 21st-Century Park,"
Landscape Architecture 99 (2009): 100.
34 Tom Topousis, "It's One El Of A Park," New York Post (November 12, 2007),
http://www.nypost.eom/p/news/regional/it_one_el_of_park_cajThNYvrl0rGdPm9cGNVL (accessed April 25, 2012).
35 New York City Economic Development Corporation, "High Line Project Profile" (March 1, 2012),
http://www.nycedc.com/project/high-line (accessed 3.5.12).
13


Figure 3.2 Context Map of the High Line, Section 1 with access points
Community Profile:
The following data presents a comparison of land use, demographic and
economic data within Manhattan Community District 4, the district through which
all but four blocks of the High Line travels. District 4 extends twice the length of
the High Line and therefore may not be a measure of the High Lines impact on
changing the demographics of a neighborhood. At this time, 2010 data for the
specific census tracts adjacent to the High Line does not include income and
education statistics, important indicators of the trends in gentrification of a
neighborhood. The statistics for Census tracts 79, 83, 89, 93, 97 and 99, the
tracts immediately adjacent to the High Line, should be analyzed in the future
when the information is available. The fact that this information is not yet readily
available suggests that the speed of change within communities is occurring at a
rate that is faster than we are willing or able to monitor and respond to.
Following is additional information that reveals current dynamics of the
Chelsea neighborhood:
Between October 2008 and June 2009, the median list price for a home in
the vicinity of the High Line rose from $870,000 to $1,300,000 at the
opening of the first section of the new park.36
Multiple large low-income and rent-stabilized housing projects exist in
Chelsea east of 10th Avenue.37
17% of residential units in Manhattan are nuclear families while 50% of
them single person occupants.38
36 Zillow 'NY 10011' in Zillow Home Prices and Home Values, http://www.zillow.com/local-info/NY-10011-home-
value/r_61625/#metric1Xmt%3D18%26dt%3Dl%26t p%3D5%26rt%3D7%26r%3-D61625%26 el%3D0 (accessed June
2011).
37 Design Trust for Public Space, "Reclaiming the High Line" (2002), 60,
http://www.designtrust.org/pubs/01_Reclaiming_High_Line.pdf (accessed 2.10.2012).
14


Community Open Space Needs38 39
Prior to the development of the High Line as a park, the west side of
Manhattan had a disproportionately low acreage-per-capita of parks than the rest
of Manhattan. Community Board 4 ranked fourth from the bottom of 59
community districts in terms of open space. It had less than one-fifth of an acre
per thousand residents. The average city-wide access to open space is 2.5 acres
per thousand residents.
Table 3.4 Land Use Comparison: 2002 and 2010
2002 2010
Lot Area Lot Area
% of % of
# of Lot # of Lot
Lots Sq. Ft. Area Lots Sq. Ft. Area
Zoning Type
1- 2 Family Residential 103 172.2 0.5 130 218.2 0.6
Multi-Family Residential 1,354 6,773.10 17.9 1,373 7,563.30 19.5
Mixed Residential / Commercial 708 3,144.40 8.3 797 4,539.40 11.7
Commercial / Office 425 4,220.30 11.2 467 4,883.30 12.6
Industrial 382 3,985.10 10.5 239 2,379.30 6.2
Transportation / Utility 152 10,505.30 27.8 117 10,779.7 27.9
Institutions 155 3,539.60 9.4 176 3,838.60 9.9
Open Space / Recreation 19 773.5 2.1 18 756.3 2
Parking Facilities 215 2,285.90 6.1 159 1,766.60 4.6
Vacant Land 78 2,228.70 5.9 76 1,783.70 4.6
Miscellaneous 171.7 0.5 20 198.3 0.5
Total 3,626 37,799.8 100 3,572 38,706.6 100
38 YouTube, "The New York High Line: An Urban Model, Or Not?" YouTube Website, (12/8/2010)
http://fora.tv/2010/12/08/The_New_York_High_Line_An_Urban_Model_Or_Not (accessed November 21, 2011).
39 Design Trust for Public Space, "Reclaiming the High Line" (2002), 7,
http://www.designtrust.org/pubs/01_Reclaiming_High_Line.pdf (accessed 2.10.2012).
15


Annual Maintenance and Operations Costs
The High Line costs $4.5 million a year to maintain. The City of New York
contributes $1 million of this amount annually.40 FHL provides over 70 percent of
the High Lines annual operating budget, and is responsible for maintenance of
the park, pursuant to a license agreement with the New York City Department of
Parks and Recreation."41 42
Table 3.5 NYC Park Comparison: Annual Operations and Maintenance Costs42
Park Cost per acre
High Line (NYCs most expensive green space per acre to operate.) $672,000 per acre.
Bryant Park $479,166 per acre
Central Park $32,000 per acre
Average New York City park $9,555 per acre
Security costs
The park has 11 park enforcement patrol officers for the 4.9 acres of Sections
1 and 2 within the trendy, designer boutique-filled Meatpacking District. The
Bronx gets five enforcement officers, for all 6,970 acres of Bronx parkland. City
parks patrol officers at the High Line also operate crowd control and manage
numbers on the High Line, limiting access at peak periods. The City of New York
is responsible for the funding and staffing of all safety and security
enforcement.43
Staffing44
FHL staff features four people earning more than $100,000, including
Hammond, who earned $280,000 last year. 45 There are a total of 30 F/T staff,
administrative and field personnel. FHL staffs 7 F/T year-round gardeners and
utilizes over 200 volunteers during the spring green-up (the event when all cut-
back of dead foliage takes place) and the growing season.
40Rich Calder, "Sky High Costs," New York Post, August 2009, http://www.nypost.eom/p/news/regional/
sky_high_costsJWqyNI68fwWJ3YVGVNIOhL (accessed October 12, 2011).
41 The High Line, "About Friends of the High Line," Friends ofthe High Line http://www.thehighline.org/ about/friends-of-
the-high-line (accessed 1.15.12).
42 Rich Calder, "Sky High Costs," New York Post, August 2009, http://www.nypost.eom/p/news/regional/
sky_high_costsJWqyNI68fwWJ3YVGVNIOhL (accessed October 12, 2011).
43 Alex Ulam et al., "Back On Track: Bold Design Moves Transform A Defunct Railroad Into A 21st-Century Park,"
Landscape Architecture 99 (2009): 107.
44 The High Line, "About Friends ofthe High Line," Friends ofthe High Line http://www.thehighline.org/ about/friends-of-
the-high-line (accessed 1.15.12).
45 Rich Calder, "Sky High Costs," New York Post, August 2009, http://www.nypost.eom/p/news/regional/
sky_high_costsJWqyNI68fwWJ3YVGVNIOhL (accessed October 12, 2011).
16


Programming and Visitor use
The first year Section 1 of the High line opened over two million visitors were
recorded with an average of 15,000-20,000 visitors on a busy Saturday during
the growing season. Visitorship consists of 50% New York City residents and
50% non-residents. Of these non-residents, 25% are international travelers,
primarily from Europe and Japan.46 FHL started an education program in 2000
which has developed school trips, youth programs, arts programming, and
cooperative programming with the Hudson Guild.
46 YouTube, "The New York High Line: An Urban Model, Or Not?" YouTube Website, (December 8, 2010)
http://fora.tv/2010/12/08/The_New_York_High_Line_An_Urban_Model_Or_Not (accessed November 21, 2011).


THE HIGH LINE: HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT
Pre-Development (1900-1930)
1847
The City of New York
authorizes street-level
railroad tracks down
Manhattan's West Side to
Canal Street.1
1896
New York State extends
the railroad's franchise
from 50 to 500 years.2
Congestion of transportation
traffic from rail, ship and street
traffic constricts commercial
traffic with congestion in area.
Over 500 people take part in
protests.3
1911,1916,1925
Multiple models for elevated
multi-transport corridor are
presented. Implementation is
eventually delayed by World
War I involvement.'1
1847
1896 1908 1911-1925
1851
1900
1929
1851
So many accidents occur between -j ggg
freight trains and street-level traffic About 250 meat p|ants
that 10th Avenue becomes known and slaughterhouses
as Death Avenue. For safety, men on thrive in the area.6
horses, called the West Side Cowboys,
ride in front of trains waving red flags.5
1929
After years of public debate about the
hazard, the City and State of New York
and the New York Central Railroad
agree on the West Side Improvement
Project, which includes the High Line.7
Figure 3.2 Timeline of the High Line's Development
Active Use by the Railroad
(1934-1960)
Abandonment and
Opportunistic use (1960-1990)
1934 _______
The High Line opens to trains. It runs from
34th Street to St. John's Park Terminal, at
Spring Street. Milk, meat, produce, and
raw and manufactured goods come and
go without causing street-level traffic.8
1960s
The southernmost section of
the High Line is demolished.
Rail traffic begins to decline.9
1983
Congress passes the National Trails System
act allowing "rail banking"for the use of
non-motorized trails pedestrian/bike trails
as interim use with the intent for future
transportation needs.10
1934
1960s 1983
1950s
1980
1985-1989
1950s
Growth of interstate trucking leads
to a drop in rail traffic, nationally
and on the High Line.11
1980
The last train runs on
the High Line pulling
three carloads of frozen 1985-1989
turkeys.12 A group of property
owners lobbies for
18


Regeneration, Re-use and Redevelopment
1999
Friends of the High Line is founded
by Chelsea residents Joshua David
& Robert Hammond advocating for
the High Line's preservation & reuse
as public open space. Joel Sternfeld
is hired to photograph the urban
wilderness.'4
October 2002
A study done by Friends of the
High Line finds that the High
Line project is economically
rational: New tax revenues
created by the public space
will be greater than the costs of
construction.15
December 2002
The City files with
the federal Surface
Transportation Board
for railbanking,
making it City policy to
preserve and reuse the
High Line.'6
March September 2004
Friends of the High Line
and the City of New York
conduct a process to select
a design team for the
High Line.The selected
team is James Corner Field
Operations & Diller Scofidio
+ Renfro.'7
1999
2002
2004
2001
2003
2001 2002
The Design Trust for Public
Space creates "Reclaiming the
High Line,"a planning study
jointly produced with Friends of
the High Line, which lays out a
planning framework for the High
Line's preservation and reuse.
About 36 meatpackers remain in
the area.'8
March 2002
Friends of the High Line
gains first City supporta
City Council resolution
advocating for the High
Line's reuse.'9
January-July 2003
An open ideas competition,
"Designing the High Line,"
solicits proposals for the High
Line's reuse. 720 teams from
36 countries enter. Hundreds
of design entries are displayed
at Grand Central Terminal.20
July 2003
Friends of the
High Line and the
City jointly testify
before the Surface
Transportation Board
in support of High
Line reuse.21
19
June 2005
The Surface Transportation
Board issues a Certificate of
Interim Trail Use for the High
Line, authorizing the City and
railroad to conclude railbanking
negotiations.22
2005
April 2006
Construction begins on
Section 1 (Gansevoort Street
to 20th Street).23
2006
June 2008
Final designs are
released for the High
Line's transformation
to a public park.24
June 9,2009
Section 1
(Gansevoort Street
to West 20th Street)
opens to the public.25
2009
April 2005
An exhibition showcasing the
preliminary design by James
Corner Field Operations & Diller
Scofidio + Renfro opens at the
Museum of Modern Art.26
2008
2011
April 2006
Groundbreaking is celebrated
on the High Line with the
lifting of a rail track. The first
phase of construction on
Section 1 of the High Line
2005-2011 Open House
NYC continues to lead
tours of the "wild" High
Line.29
November 2005
The City takes ownership of the High Line
from CSX, who donates the structure, a
Trail Use Agreement is signed. These two
actions effectively preserve the High Line
south of 30th Street.27
June 8, 2011
Section 2 (West 20th
Street to West 30th
Street) opens to the
public.30


Timeline footnotes
High Line, History of the High Line, Friends of the High Line,
http://www.thehiqhline.orq/about/hiqh-line-historv (accessed January 12, 2012).
Design Trust for Public Space Website, Reclaiming the High Line 2002 http://www.
desiqntrust.orq/pubs/01 Reclaiming High Line.pdf (accessed 2.10.2012).
Donathan Salkaln, "History of Chelsea, Chelsea Reform Democratic Club Website,
http://crdcnvc.org /Websites/CCtest/lmaqes/Historv/New Chelsea History Timelime.pdf
(accessed February 10, 2012).
High Line, History ofthe High Line, Friends of the High Line,
http://www.thehiqhline.orq/about/hiqh-line-historv (accessed January 12, 2012).
Idem.
AMNY, Last ofthe Pack, AMNY, http://www.amny.com/urbanite-1.812039 /last-of-the-pack-
inside-the-beefy-heart-of-the-meatpacking- district-1.1753483 (accessed January 30, 2012).
High Line, History ofthe High Line, Friends ofthe High Line,
http://www.thehiqhline.orq/about/hiqh-line-historv (accessed January 12, 2012).
Idem.
Idem.
Idem.
Idem.
Idem.
Design Trust for Public Space Website, Reclaiming the High Line 2002 http://www.
desiqntrust.orq/pubs/01 Reclaiming High Line.pdf (accessed 2.10.2012).
4 Idem.
5 High Line, History ofthe High Line, Friends ofthe High Line,
http://www.thehiqhline.orq/about/hiqh-line-historv (accessed January 12, 2012).
3 Idem.
7 Idem.
3 Design Trust for Public Space Website, Reclaiming the High Line 2002 http://www.
desiqntrust.orq/pubs/01 Reclaiming High Line.pdf (accessed 2.10.2012).
9 High Line, History ofthe High Line, Friends ofthe High Line,
http://www.thehiqhline.orq/about/hiqh-line-historv (accessed January 12, 2012).
Idem.
Idem.
Idem.
Idem.
Idem.
Idem.
Idem.
Idem.
Idem.
High Line, History ofthe High Line, Friends ofthe High Line,
http://www.thehiqhline.orq/about/hiqh-line-historv (accessed January 12, 2012).
Idem.
20


CHAPTER 4
THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS AND UNDERLYING CONCEPTS
Multiple theories and theoretical concepts are applicable to the analysis and
understanding of the High Line. For this project, the most relevant landscape
architectural theory that has driven the research and analysis includes:
The historical treatment of wilderness and the human-nature dialectic that
has motivated the persistence of Picturesque ideals in American
landscape architecture.
Reception theory and the idea that visitors carry both individual
experiences and perceptions as well as embedded cultural values with
them in the reading of a site.
The power of landscape to communicate values regarding nature through
cultural practices. This section will summarize existing theory that
discusses the conflicts surrounding the human-nature dialectic. The
recognition that the Picturesque aesthetic has produced cultural
preferences for the idealizeation of nature.47
I. Landscape Architecture Theory
History and Tenets of the Picturesque Aesthetic
While the genre was conceived and debated in the 18th century by William
Gilpin, Uvedale Price, Richard Payne Knight, and Edmund Burke among others,
the tenets by which I am evaluating the High Lines design and performance are
those that have been examined and explored in contemporary design by William
Cronon, Susan Herrington and Joan Iverson Nassauer.
In The Trouble with Wilderness, William Cronon, explores the historical
foundations of the American perception and treatment of nature, saying, It is not
too much to say that the modern environmental movement is itself the grandchild
of romanticism and post-frontier ideology, which is why it is no accident that so
much environmentalist discourse takes its bearings from the wilderness these
intellectual movements [of the sublime and the frontier] helped create.48 He
identifies embedded values regarding the sacred treatment of nature and how
the romantic
47 When I use the term "idealization of nature" I am referring to the preferencing of particular qualities of nature which
serve to exclude humans as part of nature. These qualities are identified culturally as "good" or "beneficial" and include
the visual aestheticization of nature. In effect, these strategies actively dismiss the messiness, destructiveness and
adversity that occur within non-human ecological processes while depreciating humans' similar role in shaping their
environment.
48 William Cronon, ed, "The Trouble with Wilderness" in Uncommon Ground (New York: W.W. Norton and Company,
1996), 72.
21


Sublime became a driver for the preservation of land. This preservation effort
became an escape from the industrial qualities of urbanity, developing into a
domesticated source of class-based recreation where wilderness became a
playground for peoples personal fantasies. Cronon also addresses the editing of
the historical narrative in order to sanitize nature by extracting human history
from the landscape, citing the removal of the Native Americans as an act of
purification of the Frontier myth. He notes that idealizing a wilderness too often
means not idealizing the environment in which we actually live, the landscape, for
better or for worse we call home.49
In Framed Again: The Picturesque Aesthetics of Contemporary
Landscapes, Susan Herrington discusses the three faces of the Picturesque,
analyzing the Picturesque genre of landscape design as a style, as an ideology,
and as an aesthetic. She recognizes the last centurys trends in human-
landscape interactions through environmental psychology which focused on
human preference for conditions and behaviors. This view supports a perception
of the landscape predominantly as a source of information.50 Critical to her
argument is the idea that understanding how the aesthetic mode of the
Picturesque operates expands how we perpetuate ideals and values through
Picturesque techniques. According to scholars, such landscapes have conveyed
an ideology that has been described as an effort to naturalize the power and
wealth of the hegemonial sect.51 She discusses design techniques that have
been used historically to mask human authorship of the landscape and discusses
tenets of the Picturesque that continue to be used such as the application of
landscape narrative, primacy of the spectator, and the use of artifacts to create
mental connections between sensations, ideas, and memories.52 The use of
Picturesque aesthetics in contemporary landscapes has ignored the theoretical
contribution of the genre, reducing its contribution to aesthetic techniques while
limiting the varied experience of the landscape.
Joan Iverson Nassauer contends in Messy Ecosystems, Orderly Frames
that the naturalness that Americans appreciate today is more closely related to
an 18th century concept of the Picturesque and the beautiful than it is to the
understanding of ecological function.53 Because the cultural concept of this genre
of design produces a landscape that looks tended, not wild, it becomes a
recognizable system of landscape conveying symbols that work beside
neatness to represent human intention.54 Nassauer posits that landscape
language that communicates human intention, particularly intention to care for
the landscape is design communication that can be used for the improvement of
ecological quality. The cultural language for cues to care can provide a context
49 William Cronon, ed, "The Trouble with Wilderness" in Uncommon Ground (New York: W.W. Norton and Company,
1996), 85.
50 Rachel Kaplan, Stephen Kaplan, Robert L. Ryan, With People in Mind: Design and Management of Everyday Nature
(Washington D.C.: Island Press. 1998), 9.
51 Ann Bermingham, Landscape and Ideology: The English Rustic Tradition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986),
1740-1860.
52 Susan Herrington, "Framed Again: The Picturesque Aesthetics of Contemporary Landscapes," Landscape Journal 25
(March 2006): 25.
53 Gina Crandell, Nature Pictorialized: "The View" In Landscape Eiistory (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993),
161-170.
54 Joan Nassauer, "Messy Ecosystems, Orderly Frames," Landscape Journal 14 (1995): 168.
22


for ecological function in design.55 She attests that despite the love humans have
for the cultural concept of nature, people do not know how to see ecological
quality directly, only through our cultural lenses. In this way, people expect to
see design that communicates human intention in settled landscapes so when
wild vegetation develops, people perceive these lands as being neglected. The
same indigenous communities presented in gardens or preserves are understood
as nature and people find this landscape aesthetically pleasing. Nassauer
maintains that the Perception of human intention may be the difference between
a nature preserve and a dumping ground...the existence of design cues for intent
must be present.56
II. Reception Theory
One way of exploring the experience of designed landscapes is through
the adaptation of literary reception theory to the study of gardens. This thesis
uses John Dixon Hunts theory of reception of nature to understand the High Line
as a complex narrative. In this case, the garden is a text written over time and
space, the visitor brings a pre-visit understanding of the spaces past as well as
pre-conceived notions about natures operations on the site. In The Afterlife of
Gardens, John Dixon Hunt writes:
The interaction between a literary text and the readers
processing of it takes place in certain conditions that control that
interaction; these have to do with genre, tone, structure, etc., as
well as the social conditions in which it is read. The same is true of
a garden, except that conventions and circumstances are
different, even unique to that art; it uses different materials,
involves the spatial experience of perambulation and (prime
among the senses) viewing, and draws on assumptions that
visitors bring with them about garden art and its different
genres...A garden may propose or even instruct, and its visitors
dispose or construct meanings and experiences from that...for
without stimuli or triggers, no response or interpretation will be
forthcoming.57
Hunt argues that such an approach via the reception of gardens expands
their significance and meanings.58 He contends that gardens are experienced
often by a succession of visitors at different times and often from different
cultures; differing experience, though partially determined by the design intent
and its subsequent modifications, also augments the site's potentialities, and this
"afterlife" of gardens comes to enhance the original moment of creation. Hunt
references Wolfgang Iser and his concept of the Implied Reader from literary
reception, a role that is purely a theoretical construct and not a specific person.
He extrapolates the idea to infer that the garden then has an Implied Visitor
Ibid,166.
56 Joan Nassauer, "Messy Ecosystems, Orderly Frames," Landscape Journal 14 (1995): 168.
57 John Dixon Hunt, The Afterlife of Gardens (Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004),16.
58 Ibid, 14.
23


where the garden itself is made up only of a series of changing viewpoints, each
one restricted in itself.59 In addition, the viewers knowledge of the landscape,
such as the history of the site or the understanding of ecological processes, can
alter their ability to enjoy the designed qualities of the site, an idea that is also
aligned with Panovskys three levels of iconography. Detailed technical
knowledge will also deter appreciation of Romantic qualities, aesthetic readings
and even imagination.60
Reception theory is also addressed by Elizabeth Meyer in Sustaining
Beauty. She talks about the Brundtland Commissions three legs of sustainability:
ecology, social equity and economy and how the ecological operates in relation
to social justice and economic profit but not in terms of aesthetics. Meyer makes
a case for the inclusion of beauty into discussions of sustainability.61 She
quotes Anne Whiston Spirn who describes the performative aesthetic of
ecological processes:
This is an aesthetic that celebrates motion and change, that
encompasses dynamic processes rather than static objects, and
that embraces multiple, rather than static objects and that
embraces multiple, rather than singular, visions...This aesthetic
includes both the making of things and places and the sensing,
using, and contemplating of them.62
Meyers manifesto discusses design as a cultural act, a product of
culture made with the materials of nature and embedded within and inflected by a
particular social formation, employing ecological principles while also enabling
social routines and spatial practices.63 She also attests to the perception of
nature in urban environments: Most constructed nature in the city needs care,
cultivation, and gardening... natural-looking designed landscapes quickly
become invisible landscapes and neglected landscapes.64 Another of Meyers
tenets speak to the performance of beauty as an event that works on our psyche
and is an experience that is discovered through the sensorial experience.65 Such
a reception of nature is accessed cognitively through seeing and touching,
smelling and hearing, between reason and the senses, between what is known
through past experiences and what is expected in the here and now.66 Meyer
contends that the fundamental beauty of landscape resides in its ability to
change over time.
The application of theory related to landscape and memory is critical to
this research because of the shifting interpretations associated with the High Line
as a place transformed and reinterpreted over time. These types of cognitive
processes are significant in the treatment of sites that have experienced varied
59 Elizabeth Freund, The Return of the Reader: Reader-Response Criticism (London: Methuen, 1987), 144.
60 John Dixon Hunt, The Afterlife of Gardens (Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004),16.
61 Elizabeth Meyer, "Sustaining Beauty: The Performance of Appearance," Landscape Architecture 98, no. 10 (2008): 94-
95.
Ibid, 100.
Ibid,117.
Ibid,120.
Ibid,119.
Ibid,123.
24


cultural meanings. In terms of the imposing post-industrial ruins of our urban
infrastructural networks, the scraping of a skyline through the demolition of such
works leaves indelible images of a past often ignored and superceded by a
subsequent function and form. Multiple opinions exist on the approach towards
landscape and memory with Sebastien Marot arguing that a sites role in memory
should be used as a design approach.67 Complimentary to this, Peter Latz
asserts that relationships must be made concrete and visible and that there is a
cognitive re-processing of the place on behalf of the viewer; it is the viewer, not
the designer who re-interprets space to create their own picture of a place.68
These two approaches imply differing degrees of control on the part of the
designer when considering the amount of influence the designer has on the
visitors experience. Latzs perspective is more open-ended in understanding
how the space will be re-interpreted over time and in turn, provides alternatives
for design strategies that may be more flexible in meaning to the visitor.
Exploring landscape as an idea frames a discussion for its understanding
as a medium for the communication and proliferation of cultural values.69 Theory
supporting the exploration of cultural meaning conveyed through landscape will
be expounded upon in Chapter 5 of this thesis with brief summaries of the
relevant texts included here. In Recovering Landscape, James Corner addresses
landscape as both idea and artifact having the capacity to critically engage the
metaphysical and political programs that operate in a given society; landscape
architecture is not simply a reflection of culture but more an active instrument in
the shaping of modern culture. Through its design and molding it conveys
historical mores while also having the power to reinforce hegemonial agendas.70
Also relevant to the discussion of the High Line is the concept of the three
natures, a 16th century development in which the expression third nature was
used to distinguish the human designer of landscape. The three natures will be
discussed further in the subsequent chapter, Landscape as Idea.
In The Social Creation of Nature Neil Evernden discusses the conceptual
domestication and systemization of nature that has occurred which frames our
continued treatment of it through culture. Naming nature has created
relationships and associations with those conventions, thereby shaping how we
understand what those elements are. But in doing this, fundamentals of nature
have become social creations, with their explanations and meanings being
biased with the language of culture. According to Evernden, The thing itself is
not the thing without its meaning to culture.71 Frederick Turner also explores the
complexities of an unpredictable and transformative nature in The Invented
Landscape. He emphasizes the need to analyze natures qualities through the
understanding of tendencies of the human species.72
67 Sebastien Marot, Sub-Urbanism and the Art of Memory (London: Architectural Association, 2003).
68 Udo Weilacher, Syntax of Landscape : The Landscape Architecture of Peter Latz and Partners (Boston, Mass., London:
Birkhauser, 2008).
69 Denis Cosgrove, Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape, (Totawa, NJ: Barnes and Noble, 1985).
70 James Corner, "Introduction." In Recovering Landscape : Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture (New York:
Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 13.
71 Neil Evernden, The Social Creation of Nature (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 110.
72 Frederick Turner, The Invented Landscape (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 44.
25


Turner distinguishes that ideas of sustainability and homeostasis are unnatural
goals because of natures agency to change, improve, complexify, and
sometimes destroy.73
Anne Whiston Spirn notes that the perception of the world as a complex
network of relations has been a major contribution of ecology allowing us to see
humans as one part of an interconnected system. She observes that the
tendency has been to use this information to move directly from these insights to
prescription and proscription. In this way ecology has been used as an authority
with the historical use of nature as a guide for landscape design which defined an
aesthetic norm, the ecological aesthetic.74
III. Semiotic Theory: Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Peirce
The study of social and urban semiotics will be used (the study of
meaning as generated by signs, symbols, and their social connotations). The
dyadic model will be used in conjunction with tenets of Peirce. The two differing
modes of thought regarding semiology and semiotics originate with Ferdinand de
Saussure (1857-1913) and Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), respectively.
While semiotic theory was originally developed by Ferdinand de Saussure, his
concepts were largely grounded in the analysis of language as the basis of social
life. For the analysis that is being performed as part of this case study, the dyadic
model of Saussure will be used in conjunction with tenets of Peirce. Peircean
semiotics differs from Sassurean semiotics because Peirces theory is normative
and not descriptive like Sassure. It is also a formal and general theory of signs
which means that it applies to any kind of sign and because cognitive science is
formal; its signs are relative to any subject.75 Peirce also denies intuition, the
direct relation between an object and its interpretant without the intervention of a
sign. He supports that every intellectual experience is a sign-mediated
acquisition of knowledge. Signs are the medium for thoughtminds are sign
systems and thought is sign action. Anything can be a sign as long as it mediates
between its object and its concept. Icons, indices and symbols are classes by
which signs relate to its object by degrees of directness or arbitrariness76
The significance of Pierces model to the investigation of this thesis is its
relevance to Reception Theory. By assuming culture to be a system of signs, we
acknowledge that the values and customs practiced and perpetuated by a group
are communicated through those signs. Such signs that are communicated
through the experience of a landscape or a park must be understood as received
by the visitor, functioning as the interpretant of the signs. The significance of
performing a semiotic analysis of the High Line is what it reveals about
contemporary cultural values about nature and park development. Umberto Eco
put forth: Reconstruction of cultural code does not mean explanation of all
Ibid, 41.
74 Anne Whiston Spirn, "The Authority of Nature: Conflict, Confusion, and Renewal in Design, Planning and Ecology," In:
Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning, (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991), 37.
75 Paul Cobley, Semiotics: The Routledge Companion (New York: Routledge, 2010), 91.
76 Ibid, 92-93.
26


phenomena of the given culture, but it rather enables us to explain why this
culture has created this phenomena.77
Semiotic codes are defined as procedural systems of related conventions for
correlating signifiers and signifieds in certain domains.78 These codes provide a
framework within which signs make sense: they are interpretative devices which
are used by communities of people operating with the knowledge of certain value
systems. They can be broadly divided into social codes, textual codes and
interpretative codes.79 Signs have no inherent significance without sign-users
investing them with meaning through the association with a recognized code.
Pierce developed a way to analyze the directness of the relationship a signifier
has with its signified (Saussurian terms) through the modes of index, icon
symbol.80 The classification of these modes demonstrates the degree to which
the sign meaning must be learned, therefore it can be inferred that the cultural
meaning associations for the learning of arbitrary relationships must be
pervasive.
INDEX
The Peircean classification considers index as A mode in which the
signifier is not purely arbitrary but is directly connected in some way (physically
or causally) to the signified this link can be observed or inferred (such as smoke
or a clock).81 Thusly, the form which is represented is directly related to the idea,
either physically or causally. Signs that exhibit an indexical relationship between
the form and the concept need the least amount of cultural learning associated
with them.
ICON
The Peircean classification considers icon as A mode in which the
signifier is perceived as resembling or imitating the signified (recognizably
looking, sounding, feeling, tasting or smelling like it) or being similar in
possessing some of its qualities (a portrait, a diagram, metaphors).82 All of the
following common definitions of icon fit within Peirces mode for understanding
the degree of relatedness between the signifier and the signified of a sign.
Photos (all unedited images) are not only iconic, but indexical; point by point they
correspond to nature at a particular point in time.83 Iconic signs are highly
motivated because their signifiers are highly constrained by their signified. The
extent to which the signified determines the signifier is high, therefore the less
motivated and the more learning of a convention is required.84 Peirce considered
7 Umberto Eco," Introduction," In: Y.M. Lotman, Universe of the Mind: A Semiotic Theory of Culture (New York: I.B.
Tauris, VII-XII, 1990).
78 Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: The Basics (New York: Routledge, 2002), 27.
79 Umberto Eco," Introduction," In: Y.M. Lotman, Universe of the Mind: A Semiotic Theory of Culture (New York: I.B.
Tauris, VII-XII, 1990).
80 Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: the Basics (New York: Routledge, 2002), 243.
81 Ibid, 244.
82 Ibid, 40.
83 Ibid, 42.
84 Ibid, 38.
27


every picture an icon because they have qualities that resemble the objects they
represent, exciting analgous sensations in the mind.85 Chandler notes that
pictures tend to resemble what they represent only in some respects.86
In general, icons are also used in a sense as symbols, i.e. a name, face,
picture, edifice or a person readily recognized as having some renowned
significance or embodying certain qualities. Such an icon is a singular image that
represents something else of greater significance through literal or figurative
meaning. They are most often associated with religious, cultural, political, or
economic rank or position.87 Vladimir Lossky and Leonid Ouspensky observe in
The Meaning of Icons that throughout history, a variety of religious cultures have
been inspired and sustained by concrete images. The use and function of such
images, either for teaching, inspiration, worship, adoration, or ornament and
aesthetics depends upon the system of beliefs of that particular religion and at
the time of practice.88
The development of icons in contemporary society reveals a set of values
that portray a reverence for pop culture and cultural ideals: Hollywood figures
such as Elvis, long-standing cultural places such as Rockefeller Center or
resilient corporate brands such as Coca Cola have all been identified as iconic.
Particular images or works by specific artists and their modes of representation
are also iconic: Michaelangelos David, the Rosie the Riveter ad campaign,
DaVincis Mona Lisa. All of these images have become icons representative of
associated or suggested meanings. The associations and meanings of icons
change with the development and evolution of cultures. It is important to note the
historical use of icons as images that communicate a religious significance and
indicate values for reverence, otherness and sacredness. These valued objects
are made separate from the human world, occupying a representational
presence that can be accessed within the human world through such material
images, but are in fact not of this world and hold a place of elevation that exists
within the imagination, a place that resides in both faith and fantasy. Its relevance
is to culture and representation, though its use is distinctive within religious
doctrine to represent entities that do not have a physical or material presence.
SYMBOL
The Peircean classification considers symbol as A mode in which the
signifier does not resemble the signified but which is arbitrary or purely
conventional so that the relationship must be learnt (such as the word 'stop', a
red traffic light, or a national flag).89 Symbolic signs are unmotivated because
the concepts they represent are not tightly associated with their form. The less
motivated the sign, the more cultural learning of a convention is required.90 Its
relevance is to culture and representation, though its use is distinctive within
85
86
87
89
90
Ibid, 39.
Ibid, 39.
Vladimir Lossky, Leonid Ouspensky, The Meaning of Icons (Yonkers. New York: SVS Press, 1999).
Idem.
Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: the Basics (New York: Routledge, 2002), 38.
Ibid, 40.
28


religious doctrine to represent entities that do not have a physical or material
presence.
IV. Cultural and Ecological Performances
I. Urban ecology:
Despite an abundance of research in urban ecology, the study of the
interaction of cultural and ecological processes has been limited.91 While the
planning fields are still based in a scientific approach,92 one that is founded in
determinism,93 culturally influenced landscape ideals should be accounted for.94
Nina-Marie Lister posits that too much nature-modeling in urban landscapes
deprives these environments of the potential amalgamation of culture and nature.
Urban landscapes are heavily influenced by a multitude of factors. Varying
densities of people and vegetation, topography, water sources and
microclimates, architectural and infrastructural forms all interact to create a
landscape layered with cultural, ecological and spatial meaning. The act of
garden making is a process inherently molded by human expression and
interpretation.95 As a result, centuries-old ideas of the sublime and the pastoral
continue to be represented through the design of public urban park spaces,
perpetuating cultural ideals of nature as neat and orderly.96
The literature that addresses the interaction of cultural and ecological
systems in the production of new environments sits at the crossroads of several
disciplines, all of which utilize a distinct language in their treatment of both nature
and culture. These fields include landscape architecture, urban ecology, urban
planning and cultural geography. Much of the urban ecological literature
integrating human and non-human systems has been produced through the
collaborations of urban ecologists and urban planners with the specific purpose
of slowing ecological and evolutionary change through the better understanding
of shared energy systems.97 The social and biological sciences have largely
studied human and ecological processes as separate circumstances.98 Literature
from the field of urban ecology has generally held fast to the methodologies of
the biological sciences, while emphasizing the need for improved integration of
both social and ecological sciences in order to better understand complex urban
systems. C.S. Holling viewed dynamic ecosystem development whereby living
91S. T. A. Pickett, M. L. Cadenasso, "Advancing Urban Ecological Studies: Frameworks, Concepts, and Results from the
Baltimore Ecosystem Study," Austral Ecology 31, no. 2 (2006): 114-125.
92 Nina-Marie Lister, "Sustainable Large Parks: Ecological design or designer ecology?" In: J. Czerniak and G. Hargreaves
(eds.), Large Parks (Princeton NJ: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007),37.
93 Ibid, 39.
94 James Corner, "Introduction." In Recovering Landscape : Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture (New York:
Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 9.
95 John Dixon Hunt, Greater Perfections: The Practice of Garden Theory ('Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press,
2000), 76.
96 Gina Crandell, Nature Pictorialized: "The View" In Landscape History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993),
161-170.
97 Alberti M. Alberti, et al., "Integrating Humans into Ecology: Opportunities and Challenges for Urban Ecology."
BioScience vol. 53, no.12 (2003): 8.
29


systems evolved unpredictably and discontinuously, with regeneration or
reorganization occurring in response to disturbance events."
The language of urban ecology has attempted to redefine urban
environments in a way that inserts humans and their urban landscapes into
ecosystems that are much larger and complex than the bounds of the city itself.
Thus the use of terminology such as human dominated ecosystems and the
integration of human and non-human processes becomes the human-
influenced ecology of these environments. The nature of this language bridges
between ecology and culture: terminology such as mosaics, patches and
corridors are adaptable in describing such urban ecological fabric. While this
integration and acknowledgement in the field is certainly a step in the right
direction, there are complications with the use of such language. By inserting
humans into terminology applied to ecological models which are systems
assumed to be reproducible, predictable and pre-determined, such language
implies that that the interactions of human and non-human processes result in
dynamics that exhibit these same qualities. Regardless, differences in the use of
language to describe integrated systems also exist within the field of urban
ecology. Urban hybrid systems, human and natural systems and human-
dominated ecosystems are among the terminology used by ecologists to
describe the ecosystems of urban environments. 99 100
II. Urban planning:
Urban planning literature addresses environmental planning and the
temporal adaptation of urban spaces through the lenses of land use,
transportation planning and urban renewal. In terms of this research, pertinent
literature focuses on the production of space, revitalization of neighborhoods,
rezoning and reuse of urban landscapes. There are several classic texts that are
still relevant today including Jane Jacobs The Death and Life of Great American
Cities and Kevin Lynchs Image of the City. Both texts are instrumental at
identifying elements and qualities of cities that create vibrant urban spaces that
function over the course of time and create environments that are resilient to
change. More recent texts such as The American City: What Works and What
Doesn't have addressed fundamental problems with traditional planning
approaches that have contributed to the decline of many American cities.
Ideas about the role of park and green space in urban environments are
an ever-present theme in city planning. From an economic standpoint, they can
shape and energize neighborhoods, driving new development and generating
sales and property taxes for the city. The economic argument has often
outweighed the other many benefits of park development that may be more
difficult to quantify. Regardless, a paradox exists in regards to the potentials for
species diversity in the city. While city conditions may suggest lower rates of
vegetative diversity; large expanses of impermeable surfaces, air pollution and
99 C.S. Holling, 'The Resilience of Territorial Ecosystems," Sustainable Development of the Biosphere, (Cambridge, U.K:
Cambridge University Press,1986).
100 Alberti M. Alberti, et al., "Integrating Humans into Ecology: Opportunities and Challenges for Urban Ecology."
BioScience vol. 53, no.12 (2003): 8.
Hough, Michael. Cities and Natural Process. London ; New York : Routledge, 1995.
30


intensified wind and heat may imply an environment with diminished conditions
for viable habitat. But urban ecologists of the last fifteen years have come to
understand the urban environment as both highly altered and ecologically
diverse, exhibiting more point to point variation across space than in naturalized
settings.101 This diversity has been studied through the development of urban
plant ecological research. The integration of the urban design discipline with
plant ecology can provide opportunities for understanding vegetative habitat
within the city while creating opportunities for
design projects as ecological research.102
101 J.P. Collins et al, "A New Urban Ecology," American Scientist, 88 (2000): 422.
102 S. T. A. Pickett, M. L. Cadenasso, "Advancing Urban Ecological Studies: Frameworks, Concepts, and Results from the
Baltimore Ecosystem Study," Austral Ecology 31, no. 2 (2006): 114-125.
31


CHAPTER 5
LANDSCAPE AS IDEA
The Four Natures
In Recovering Landscape James Corner posits, Landscape is both idea
and artifact, it has the capacity to critically engage the metaphysical and political
programs that operate in a given society....landscape is an ongoing project, an
enterprising venture that enriches the cultural world through creative effort and
imagination. He goes on to say that there is a belief that landscape architecture
is not simply a reflection of culture but more an active instrument in the shaping
of modern culture.103This observation speaks to the active agency of landscape,
while artifact speaks to the incorporation of the historical context of landscape.
While Corner uses the term landscape here, landscape is implying a space as
an amalgamation of both nature and culture. The intention in this chapter is to
explore the meanings of nature that have developed and informed the
perception of landscape. The attitudes and movements that have fed the nature-
culture dialectic will be addressed in the subsequent paragraphs. While Corner is
addressing landscape in a way that proposes the use of invention to recover
the vitality of landscape, this chapter is addressing landscape as idea as a
means of examining the ways that the reception of nature is pre-conceived,
before the experience of a site. This pre-history is built in part by the cultural
practices of hegemonial sects while also unique to the visitors cultural heritage
and familiarity with the subject matter.104
How landscape is constructed in the minds of its audience is a matter of
cultural constructs that set a stage for idea and artifact. Anne Spirnes
observations of landscape as a reflection of culture and landscape as an
instrument of shaping culture105 imply an evolving conversation between
historical meanings and how meanings are reinforced or challenged through the
experience of contemporary landscapes. Historical ideas about nature have also
been influenced by the manufacturing of language developed by groups with
differing objectives. Language is an intentional device that has been used to
construct nature in particular ways. The object of reference (that of nature) may
be the same, but the fact that language is a symbolic representation of the
subject makes it an object constructed by cultural relationships. According to
Saussures original framework that considered all language as symbolic, the
actual relationship between the language that pertains to the object and the
object itself has a completely arbitrary relationship; the relationship between the
signified (the concept of nature) and the signifier (the language used to describe
it) constitutes the sign. Pierce contended that because this relationship between
103James Corner, "Introduction." In Recovering Landscape : Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture (New York:
Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 1.
104 Susan Herrington, "Framed Again: The Picturesque Aesthetics of Contemporary Landscapes," Landscape Journal 25
(March 2006): 32.
105 Anne Whiston Spirn, "The Authority of Nature: Conflict, Confusion, and Renewal in Design, Planning and Ecology," In:
Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning, (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991), 24-49.
32


the signifier and signified has no resemblance, the relationship must be
learned.106 The contemporary understanding of nature is complex and through
the medium of language, landscape is re-presented and re-translated in a variety
of ways. This chapter uses John Dixon Hunts framework of the three natures to
demonstrate how language has played a role in the historical and cultural
development of meanings regarding nature in the U.S.
Since the middle of the 16th century, nature has been symbolically separated
into three realms, each inferring a different cultural treatment. The three
categories vary between scales of human intervention in the physical landscape.
John Dixon Hunt illuminates these three categories of landscape first defined
during the Renaissance:107
i. 'First nature' being unmediated nature and wilderness, the natural world
of both the raw materials of human industry and the realm of the gods.
ii. Second nature being the cultivated or cultural landscape, including
agriculture, infrastructure, and urban development. These are places
where humans have altered the environment for the purposes of human
habitat and survival.108
iii. Third nature being the garden, a combination of nature and culture. Hunt
refers to gardens as a third nature because of their self-conscious re-
presentation of first and second natures; they are an artful interpretation of
a specific place...for specific people.109 The term is used to distinguish
the human designer of landscape and their expression is more
sophisticated, more deliberate, and more complex in their mixture of
culture and nature than Second nature.110
In the U.S. these relationships have varied greatly over the last 200 years due to
the dynamic shifts in cultural movements and values and have driven a
reverence for nature and wildness where it exists outside of second and third
natures. Alternatively, great efforts have been made to domesticate wildness
where it exists within the realms of second and third natures, which can be seen
through the development of the High Line. Despite the varying degrees of
human intervention that occur within the realms of first, second and third natures
in the landscape, a distinct separation has been built between nature and
humans through modes of representation.
6 Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: The Basics (New York: Routledge, 2002), 243.
107 John Dixon Hunt, Greater Perfections: The Practice of Garden Theory (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press,
2000),33-34.
108 Ibid, 59.
109 John Dixon Hunt, Greater Perfections: The Practice of Garden Theory (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press,
2000), 63.
110 Ibid, 34.
33


I. 1st Nature: Wilderness
i. The history of wilderness in the U. S.
Contemporary ideas about wilderness vary between the mythical and
imaginary and the measureable and idealistic. The prevailing cultural assumption
of the last two centuries has been driven by imaginings of wilderness as an
uninhabited landscape, where the nature-culture dialectic casts any use as ab-
use.111 The long-standing sentimentality for nature as untouched by humans has
been driven by multiple cultural forces that have perpetuated dreams of remote
forests and distant mountain peaks. William Cronon accounts the history of
cultural thought underlying the objectification of nature through the settlement of
America. He notes that wilderness hides its unnaturalness behind a mask that is
all the more beguiling because it seems so natural. As we gaze into the mirror it
holds up for us, we too easily imagine that what we behold is Nature when in fact
we see the reflection of our own unexamined longings and desires.112 While
wildness had once been the evil that civilization needed to be protected from, by
the 1862, Thoreau was likening it to the Garden of Eden.113
The power of wildernesss influence is due to its learned value to culture
and the sacredness we hold for it. William Gilpin, Edmunde Burke, and
Emmanuel Kant wrote about experiencing the Sublime in the vast powerful
landscapes where one could find God.114 The sublime was not a pleasurable
experience, it was a terror of being brought so close to the presence of the
divine.115 The emotion evoked by the sublimity of wildness, the sacred context,
othered it from peoples daily lives.
Wilderness became an icon during the 19th century due to the romantic sublime
movement and the rise of primitivism, the belief that the cure to the ills of the
civilized world was a return to simpler way of life, embodied in the American
frontier.116
After the Civil war, wilderness became the playground for urban ideas of
recreation, not for cultivation or permanent residence. Cronen attests, Ever
since the 19th century, celebrating wilderness has been an activity mainly for well-
to-do city folks.117 The projection of class-based imagination of leisure time onto
the American landscape did much to shape an iconic wilderness. The Sublime
became domesticated as more and more people came to sentimentalize nature
and view wilderness as a spectacle. No longer was there a sense of terror but
the imposing mountains became named with religious conventions of worship
such as Cathedral or Church Rock.118 The settlement of the Frontier drove a
111 William Cronon, "The Trouble with Wilderness" in Uncommon Ground (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996),
69.
112
113
114
115
116
117
118
Idem.
Ibid, 70-71.
Ibid, 73.
Ibid, 74.
Ibid, 76.
Ibid, 78-79.
Ibid 79.
34


wilderness preservation effort which coincided with the movement to set aside
national parks and wilderness.119
Another event that fueled the idealistic view of wilderness as uninhabited
was the expulsion of the Native American tribes from their territories. This act
contributed to the American view of the frontier wilderness as unsettled and
pristine, though it had been home to others. It was then conquered with
mapmaking and land designations: once wilderness was mapped with
boundaries, named and classified in governmental regulatory terms, wilderness
lost its ruggedness and savageness.120 The act of measuring, quantifying and
distributing wilderness into systems of regulation and protection altered the
symbolic meaning of wildness into something tamed and tended.
Cronon contends that ideas of the sublime and frontier oriented
wilderness cause us to adopt too high of a standard for what counts as
natural.121 As a result, the symbolic representation of wilderness creates further
distance for people living in a rapidly-changing, technologically advanced society,
idealizing an idea of a relationship with nature that is not attainable. A further
complication of understanding nature lies in the learned cultural representation of
language such as nature, wilderness, wildness, and ecosystem. While the
definitions of nature, wilderness, and wildness all clearly describes
conditions specifically exclusive of humans, ecosystem describes a complex
community of organisms within which we are the top of the hierarchy. Doubtless,
our supremacy in this hierarchy and ability to perceive control of our
environments inhibits our ability to fully understand the complexity of the
ecosystem of which we are a part.
In The Authority of Nature, Anne Whiston Spirn reflects on the ideologies
that the differing roles of ecology propagate in the world: Ecology as a science
(a way of describing the world), ecology as a cause (a mandate for moral action)
and ecology as an aesthetic (a norm for beauty) are often confused and
conflated...The perception of the world as a complex network of relations has
been a major contribution of ecology permitting us to see humans, ourselves, as
but one part of that web. There has been a tendency, however, to move directly
from these insights to prescription and proscription, citing ecology as an authority
in much the same way that nature was employed in the past to derive laws for
landscape design and to define an aesthetic norm, the ecological aesthetic.122
For the purposes of this chapter, ecology as a cause will be addressed as
second nature and ecology as an aesthetic will be addressed as third nature.123
//. Ecology as a science (a way of describing the world)124
Through taxonomy and other methods of classification and measurement
used by science, every thing in the world as it exists physically is named and
120 William Cronon, "The Trouble with Wilderness" in Uncommon Ground (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996),
79.
121 Ibid, 87.
122 Anne Whiston Spirn, "The Authority of Nature: Conflict, Confusion, and Renewal in Design, Planning and Ecology," In:
Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning, (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991), 37.
35


described. Simply through the act of objectively characterizing something, those
objects are disassociated from the entity doing the classifying, eliminating the
relationship that exists between them. In The Social Creation of Nature,
Everenden quotes Maurice Merleau-Ponty who suggests that To return to things
themselves is to return to the world which precedes knowledge...and in relation
to which every scientific schematization is an abstract and derivative sign-
language, as is geography in relation to the countryside in which we have learnt
beforehand what a forest, a prairie, or a river is. To return to things themselves is
to observe them before they were nature, that is, before they were captured and
explained, in which transaction they ceased to be themselves and became
instead functionaries in the world of social discourse. Once named and
explained, they become social creations, and their primordial givenness is
subordinated to their social utility.125
In The Invented Landscape, Frederick Turner speaks of nature as the
new Divine, speculating that the environmentalist ethic has in effect replaced
God with nature.126 He expounds upon this ecological religion, identifying
unspoken principles of this new creed which drive the values underlying the
nature-culture separation. Two of these are:127
Homeostasis is a basic feature of nature where balance is restored
after disturbance and nature has an ideal state that shouldnt be
altered.
Humans are subordinate and separate from transcendent nature,
where humans are evil with an unnatural presence in the world.
The language of urban ecology has attempted to redefine urban
environments in a way that inserts humans and their urban landscapes into
ecosystems that are much larger and complex than the bounds of the city itself.
Thus the use of terms such as urban hybrid systems,128 human dominated
ecosystems and the integration of human and non-human processes becomes
the manner in which a mixed urban ecology is conceptualized. While the
acknowledgement of this integration may be a step in the right direction, there
are complications with the use of such language. By applying the terminology of
ecological modeling to humans it is inferred that such hybrid systems may be
predicted, controlled and reproduced.
II 2nd Nature: Cultivated Landscape
i. Ecology as a cause,129 a mandate for moral action and the
environmentalist religion
5 Neil Evernden, The Social Creation of Nature (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 110.
126 FrederickTurner, The Invented Landscape (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 38.
127 Ibid, 39.
128 Michael Hough, Cities and Natural Process (New York: Routledge, 1995).
129 Anne Whiston Spirn, "The Authority of Nature: Conflict, Confusion, and Renewal in Design, Planning and Ecology," In:
Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning, (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991), 37.
36


Modes of thinking regarding ecology as a mandate for moral action can
be viewed through the lens of second nature. It is through the critical discussion
of our own habitats and productive landscapes that we create idealized visions of
what a healthy ecosystem is. Today dirty rivers, polluted soils, and large
ominous black and rusting steel structures stand massive and alone in the
landscape. Barbed wire fence and heavily bolted locks delineate gated
entrances. Once the source of employers of hopeful immigrants and new
residents of rapidly growing cities, these post-industrial landscapes of vast scale
have become a symbol of blight and economic disparity in their vacancy. Other
infrastructural structures speak to the immense impact of moving freight and
people in and out of the city each day. The development of these utilitarian and
infrastructural structures of the Modernist era did not often reflect aesthetics.
They are frequently situated on the banks of waterways, making them prime real
estate for a subsequent type of industry, high end mixed-use and residential
redevelopment. Because of this, they quickly identified and planned for
redevelopment, though the scale of the development often entails a significant
magnitude of time, time during which the site sits vacant, scraped or partially
excavated. Our postmodern response to the abuses of the land can be
understood as denial, perhaps a stage of cultural grief for the loss of a once-rich
landscape. Such activity further admonishes humans for their cultivation of the
land, reinforcing the need to prevent such abuses in places designated and
preserved as wild.
Twentieth century environmentalism reinforces this: if we keep people out
of wilderness, than those places will remain intact and will retain biodiversity,
leave remote ecosystems alone to flourish of their own devices.130Wilderness
has also been established culturally as an ecological ideal where strategies are
used to place nature in select places with the purpose of functioning in particular
ways. Andrew Blum notes that Existing ecological strategies have simply put
ecology in the city rather than engaging it in larger systems and in a more holistic
way.131 He continues, The landscape architecture-ecologist collaboration is
complex and has complications- design aims to implement intentions and
interventions while ecology is looking to measure using a theoretical framework
of undisturbed nature.132
//. Nature as a thing-for-us:133 Productive landscapes and meeting
human habitat needs
The language of urban planning has addressed the role of nature in
human environments and the adaptation of urban spaces over time through the
lenses of land use, transportation planning and urban renewal. City planning
130 William Cronon, "The Trouble with Wilderness" in Uncommon Ground (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996),
82.
131 Andrew Blum, "Metaphor Remediation: A New Ecology for the City/ The High Line Competition," In Michael Van
Valkenburgh Associates : Reconstructing Urban Landscapes, edited by Anita Berrizbeita (New Haven, Conn.; London :
Yale University Press, 2009): 257.
132 Ibid, 258.
133 Anne Whiston Spirn, "The Authority of Nature: Conflict, Confusion, and Renewal in Design, Planning and Ecology," In:
Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning, (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991), 37.
37


efforts focus on the production of space, revitalization of neighborhoods,
rezoning and reuse of urban landscapes. Neil Everenden notes,
A forest may be a mythical realm or a stock of unused lumber,
but either way, it is able to serve a social function. It is, in that
sense, never itself but always ours, our system of distinctions
among the worldly phenomena...It is our habit, and perhaps an
inevitable one, to subsequently construe nature as the source
itself. Yet nature is not the well, but the bucket, and a leaky one at
that.
We can certainly know the concept nature; as a container,
it is ours completely. But the contents can never be known as
encountered in experience if we begin with a denial of experience.
Indeed, we might say that it is through the dismissal of direct
subjective experience that we are made vulnerable to the
imposition of the social abstraction called nature and the
conventions it entails... .But how are we to have any experience of
non-objectified nature if, as social beings, we are inevitably
immersed in a world of symbols and abstractions.134
The treatment of nature as a source for health and wellness permeates
our contemporary culture. There has been an increased emphasis for the
development of parks on the part of municipal and federal entities with the goal of
increasing peoples access to outdoor recreation. Such efforts have included the
analysis of per capita access to green space and the development of parks for
the specific use preferences of a community. In addition, the amelioration of
urban climate conditions and microclimates is a significant result of the
incorporation of vegetative living systems into urban landscapes.135
Ideas about the role of park and green space in urban environments are
an underlying driver in city planning. From an economic standpoint, they can
shape and energize neighborhoods, driving new development and generating
sales and property taxes for the city. More often than not, the economic
argument has taken a front seat to the other aspects of park development that
may be more difficult to quantify. Corner addresses the economy of landscape:
At the level of consumer (public demand) and producer (regional economic
development interests), landscape is increasingly sought for its unique and
intrinsic characteristics- its scenery, history, and ecology. Whether as theme
park, wilderness area, or scenic drive, landscape has become a huge, exotic
attraction unto itself, a place of entertainment, fantasy, escape, and refuge.136
He goes on to note that the tendency today is to treat landscape as a giant
commodity.137
4 Neil Evernden, The Social Creation of Nature (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 110.
135 Anne Whiston Spirn, The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design (New York: Basic Books, 1984).
136 Alexander Wilson, The Culture of Nature: North American Landscape from Disney to the Exxon Valdez (Cambridge,
Mass:Blackwell, 1992).
137 James Corner, "Introduction." In Recovering Landscape : Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture (New York:
Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 9.
38


The commodification of nature that occurs as a result of park building
further alters the face of a neighborhood. Human systems shape these
landscapes through cultural agency while spatial meanings are produced through
a set of societal values and mores.138 In Recovering Landscape Corner refers to
two key observations about the perception and reception of landscape as it
pertains to productive landscapes within its cultural context. As observed by
Corner As is widely prevalent in painting, film, communications media, and
tourist marketing campaigns, contemporary representations of landscape
typically invoke idealized images of countryside devoid of modern technology,
urbanization and change.139 He also quotes Raymond Williams, A working
country is hardly ever a landscape,140 an assertion supported by Jean-Francois
Lyotard: To have a feeling for landscape, you have to lose your feeling of
place.141 This implies that place is a cultural construct and that one must lose
the awareness of the built environment in order to sense the constructs of nature.
There are broader implications to this assumption because it again asserts a
passive role to nature and an active role to humanity.
III. 3rd The Garden: Nature and Imagination
i. Ecology as an aesthetic, a norm for beauty142
During the 16th century, the concept of third nature arose in order to
distinguish the human design of landscapes which differed from the second
nature of cultivated landscapes and the first world of unmediated nature or
wilderness.143
This third nature referred to the human construct of the garden, which
presented a metaphorical and imaginative place for people to express and
explore their ideas about nature. Throughout history, gardens have been created
for the purpose of absorbing their visitors into imaginary worlds while also
grounding them physically and tangibly.144 Alternatively, ecology as a concept,
as a norm for beauty, and as an ideology driving a style of landscape design has
only developed within the last 150 years. John Dixon Hunt affirms, The act of
garden making is a process inherently molded by human expression and
interpretation.145 As a result, centuries-old ideas of the sublime and the pastoral
continue to be represented through the design of public park spaces,
perpetuating cultural ideals of nature as neat and orderly.146 What is further
problematic is that the ecological models that have been simulated through the
8 Henri LeFebvre, "Social Space", in The Production of Space (Blackwell Publishers, Cambridge, 1991), 68-128.
139 James Corner, "Introduction." In Recovering Landscape : Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture (New York:
Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 8.
140 Raymond Williams, The City and the Country (Oxford:Oxford University Press, 1973), 36.
141 Jean-Francois Lyotard, The Inhuman, trans. Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby (Stanford, Calif: Stanford
University Press, 1991), 189.
142 Anne Whiston Spirn, "The Authority of Nature: Conflict, Confusion, and Renewal in Design, Planning and Ecology," In:
Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning, (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991),37.
143 John Dixon Hunt, The Afterlife of Gardens (Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004),43.
144 Ibid, 53.
145 John Dixon Hunt, Greater Perfections: The Practice of Garden Theory (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press,
2000), 16.
146 Gina Crandell, Nature Pictorialized: "The View" In Landscape History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993).
39


sublime and pastoral were not ecotypes at all but landscapes that had already
been altered by the human hand of preceding native cultures. By looking at
ecology as a model for design, landscape architects conceal the role of humans
in the formation of what that landscape looks like, falsifying the qualities of the
natural.147 As a result, however close the design gets to replicating natures
ecotypical models, it is always laden with cultural values through human decision
making, selective editing and the communication of aesthetic or ideological
preferences. Anne Spirne contends, Nature and natural are among the words
landscape architects and ecologists use most frequently to justify their designs or
to evoke a sense of goodness but they rarely examine or express precisely what
the words mean to them and they are genuinely ignorant of the ideological
minefields they tread.148 In effect, what is occurring is a translation of selective
ecological values into aesthetic values
Joan Nassauer is critical of aestheticized ecological values in Messy
Ecosystems, Orderly Frames when she submits, The naturalness that
Americans appreciate today is more closely related to an 18th century concept of
the picturesque and the beautiful than it is to the understanding of ecological
function.149 The cultural concept of picturesque nature produces a landscape that
looks cared for, not wild. It enters the recognizable system of landscape form
with powerful symbols that work beside neatness to represent human
intention.150 An obvious comparison to exemplify this is between the Park de
Buttes-Chaumont and Central Park. Hunt notes that while a landscape such as
Buttes-Chaumont builds a fantasy which is both influential and apparent, Central
Park offers an illusion of wilderness that is more powerful for having less obvious
production.151
Hunt also speaks about the pervasive quality of landscape to reference
other places, ideas and events through a site. He refers to this as re-presentation
because of the repeated use of these references and notes that the
understanding of these texts enhances the experience of them.152 Through the
many readings of cultural signs and signifying practices, landscape architecture
has a powerful role in asserting new meanings or perpetuating the historical
discourse. But while Hunt observes that the literary text has no ability to respond
to the readers responses, he notes that the garden changes over time, directly
challenging the visitors pre-conceived notions of what it is, and how they
experience and respond to it. 153 Hunt makes the distinction that the the full
147 Susan Herrington, "Framed Again: The Picturesque Aesthetics of Contemporary Landscapes," Landscape Journal 25
(March 2006): 22-37.
148 Anne Whiston Spirn, "The Authority of Nature: Conflict, Confusion, and Renewal in Design, Planning and Ecology," In:
Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning, (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991), 33.
149 See Gina Crandell, Nature Pictorialized: "The View" In Landscape History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,
1993).
C. Howett, "Systems, signs and sensibilities: Sources for a New Landscape Aesthetic," Landscape Journal 6(1988): 1-12.
S.K. Robinson, Inguiry into the Picturesgue, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991).
R.B. Bonsignore, "Representing the Ecological Function of Midwestern Farm Streams: Price's Picturesque Applied to
Stream Corridors," Master's thesis, University of Minnesota, 1992.
150 Joan Nassauer, "Messy Ecosystems, Orderly Frames," Landscape Journal 14 (1995): 163.
151 John Dixon Hunt, The Afterlife of Gardens (Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 50.
152 John Dixon Hunt, Greater Perfections: The Practice of Garden Theory (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press,
2000), 76.
153 Ibid, 16.
40


experience of a landscaped site includes the distinction that it is separate from
the other worlds however ambiguous and that this is done using the abstraction
or modeling of natural and cultural worlds.154 For the High Line, this included
strategies within the site design which were botanical, sculptural, aquatic and
spatial.
//. The High Line as virtual reality: the use of myth and metaphor
The integration of the natural and cultural worlds into the space of third
nature often employs the use of other literary devices such as myth and
metaphor. Hunt notes that one of landscape architectures least explored qualities
is its ability to build a virtual reality through the combination of a felt experience
of both organic and inorganic materials with a deliberate creation of fictive worlds
into whose inventions, systems and mythological or metaphorical languages we
allow ourselves to be drawn.155
As a virtual reality the authors of the High Line created a myth of the wild.
FHL represented to the public something of a Brigadoon-type fiction. The
idealized wild that only existed in their imaginations and not in urban park spaces
became the alternative reality that already existed but was inaccessible. The fairy
tale was further enhanced by the artistic representation, media and marketing of
the site. The use of Sternfelds photos in 2000 aestheticized the messy ecology
while the use of metaphor in describing the space built a reception pre-history in
the imaginations of the future visitors. David Hammond observed, a lot of New
Yorkers dream about opening their closet and there being a secret room on the
other side and their apartment just got to be twice as big... .this is how I viewed
the High Line...that there was this huge space that you didnt know existed, just
waiting for you to take advantage of it.156
Hunt emphasizes the role of the liminal experience of entering a garden
and feeling that it is a special zone is demarcated by the distinct qualities of its
entrance.157 Then the experience is sustained by the immediate understanding of
the designed space, its order, its purpose. He references the existence of a
theatrical metaphor which leads the visitor from one place to another, building a
specific experience prescribed by the designer where the visitors involvement is
as an actor/spectator.158 In this way, the garden literally becomes theatre, a
place where people are staged through the design strategies of aesthetics.
Comparisons may be made with the experience of a zoo; the removal of
interactions with the subject and the framing of particular views and experiences
create an atmosphere of spectatorship, one that eliminates any possibility of
active participation in the space. And by creating a theatrical and virtual realm,
the visitors also assume character roles other than who they are in reality.
In The Iconography of Landscape, Denis Cosgrove and Stephen Daniels
posit that the palpable existence of the garden is as strong as its imaginary
155 Hunt John Dixon Hunt, Greater Perfections: The Practice of Garden Theory (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania
Press, 2000), 38.
156 New York Voices: Joel Sternfeld http://www.youtube.com/watch2vHNzr7g8FQgk (Accessed 12.1.11)
157 Hunt, John Dixon. 2004. The Afterlife of Gardens. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press. 40
158 Ibid, 41-42
41


existence.159Like the painters of the American Wilderness, the metaphorical
language used about the wild High Line creates the myth of nature that holds
particular idealistic characteristics. These learned qualities are a production of
human thought and imagination, ideas that are developed in an alternative mode
to visual representations such as photography, drawing, or painting. Because of
its symbolic nature, language has the power to create unique interpretations on
the part of the individual human imagination.
Through linguistic signs, the High Line reveals a contemporary reverie for
nature in the city. This romanticism and longing for wildness that is repeatedly re-
imagined through the use of metaphors adapted from popular fairy tales and
fictional narratives recently adapted into the minds of adults through Hollywood
film production. Since the inception of efforts to preserve the space, the
experience of the wild High Line has been compared to Alice in Wonderland,
the Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings tales, all suggesting
alternative realities based in childhood fictions. This alternative reality has been
written about in the popular media and reiterated by Joel Sternfeld and
representatives of Friends of the High Line. Such metaphorical representation is
aligned with John Dixon Hunts suggestion of the physical gardens role as a
virtual reality.160 Conversely, this virtual reality of a mythical garden was being
built around a wild nature that was all but inaccessible except to those who built
the myth, including Friends of the High Line, the influential supporters of the
preservation effort and the media journalists who now had a romantic subject to
write about subsequent to the tragedy of the 9-11 World Trade Center attack.
But it was Sternfeld who was the catalyst for transforming the corridor of
messy weeds into a mythical enchanted prairie in the sky: in a YouTube interview
that was released shortly before the Section 1 opening, Sternfeld described his
experience coming upon the space as a wild landscape when he photographed it
in 1999-2000. The High Line is this Alice in Wonderland experience, you go
through the keyhole and suddenly you are in another world that you never knew
existed. .. 161
Following are selections from a feature article for the New York Times,
written by Adam Sternbergh, exemplifying the High Lines influence to inspire
journalists to conjure dreams through metaphorical poetics:162
The High Line is, according to its converts...the happily-ever-after at
the end of an urban fairy tale...Its a flying carpet, our generations
Central Park, something akin to Alice in Wonderland ... through the
keyhole and youre in a magical place...The idea of a park on a railbed in
the sky... Youre in the clouds, as it were, on the level of the Jetsons.
He goes on to say, I ducked through a hobbit-size door in the
backside of a Tenth Avenue warehouse...then we all stooped through the
door he punched in his back wall three years ago, and boom, there we
159 Denis Cosgrove and Stephen Daniels, The Iconography of Landscape (Cambridge: University Press, 1988), 1.
160 Hunt, John Dixon. 2004. The Afterlife of Gardens. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press. 37.
161 YouTube Website, "New York Voices: Joel Sternfeld," 4 March 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch2v =INzr7g8FQgk
(accessed December 12, 2011).
162 See Appendix for Table of metaphorical language used to chronicle the mythical wild High Line.
42


were, on the High Line, a moment that felt like stepping through the back
of the wardrobe, out into Narnia.
A quote from Adam Gopnik was included in the article: The High
Line does not offer a Gods-eye view of the city, exactly, he wrote, but
something rarer, the view of a lesser angel: of a Cupid in a Renaissance
painting, of the putti looking down on the Nativity manger.163
In many respects, the mythical representation of the abandoned High Line
built a pre-text for what the public was to anticipate from the experience and for
the reception of the designed nature. Denied of the wild experience, the general
public was limited to the illusion created by what they read and the imagery they
viewed. While longing for the myth, they were provided instead with the spectacle
that is the simulated wilderness of the contemporary park design. Neil Everenden
talks about the implications of exerting too much control of non-human processes
in our environments: Through our conceptual domestication of nature, we
extinguish wild otherness even in the imagination. As a consequence, we are
effectively alone, and must build our world solely of human artifacts. The more
we come to dwell in an unexplained world, a world of uniformity and regularity, a
world without the possibility of miracles, the less we are able to encounter
anything but ourselves.... This is why wildness is most realized in terms of
mythology and fairytales...the inability to imagine it outside of culture and human
artifact.164
///. 4rd Nature: Nature and cultural systems as hybrid ecologies
Some contemporary landscape theorists argue that over the course of the
20th century, another nature has developed, a 4th nature which considers a
landscape of greater scale and complexity. This fourth nature encompasses the
following qualities:165
These environments are varying scales of mutating environments which
fuse natural and artificial, technologic and infrastructural.
Such natures are monitored and controlled, the ecologies are amplified
or manufactured with the intent of augmenting performance and
responsiveness, controlling the flow of resources, monitoring data or
redressing environmental imbalances.
The dialectic is no longer nature versus city, or natural versus artificial,
but positions within a spectrum of mediation and manipulation of nature,
landscape and built environment.
163 Adam Sternbergh, "The High Line: It Brings Good Things to Life," NY Magazine, 29 April 2007,
http://nymag.eom/print/2/news/features/31273/ (accessed December 12, 2011).
164 Neil Evernden, The Social Creation of Nature (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 116.
165 University of Waterloo School of Architecture Fourth Nature Conference, "Fourth Natures: Mediated Landscapes,"
University of Waterloo, Canada http://www.architecture.uwaterloo.ca/fourthnatures /about-fourth-natures.html
(accessed 2.10.12).
43


Within this realm of thinking about nature and city, there has been a rise in
architects, landscape architects, urban planners and ecologists looking at how
existing infrastructural systems can be catalysts for organizing and defining the
constructed
environment, proposing scenarios in which the boundaries of built and unbuilt,
mediated and natural are growing ever more complex and ambiguous.166
Recent theory has also been developed by Bruno Latour who:
detected two contradictory processes at work in modern societies:
first, the increasing proliferation of hybrids mixing nature (the physical,
objective world) and culture (the human, subjective world), and
second, the recurrent tendency of purification, which attempts to reinforce
the epistemological separation of nature from culture, object from subject.
At the very moment in history, in other words, that the science wars seem
to pit objectivity against subjectivity, the evidence of complicated
intertwinings between the two realms seems unmistakable. The
contention is that objectivity and subjectivity are modern myths that
support a whole host of questionable dualisms, many of which refer
directly to science and religion as antipodes.167
This fourth nature is readily exemplified in the ignored, abandoned
spaces of our contemporary cities. Obsolete infrastructural networks and vacant
post-industrial spaces of the modernist movement have become sites of
opportunity for hybrid ecologies. These spaces which exist within the systematic
confines of the built urban landscape quickly transform back to wild, reminding
us of the culturally based perception of failures associated with neglect, including
the propagation of messy native and weed species.168 In this sense, neglect is
perceived in spaces when the orderliness of a specific human intention can not
be ascertained,169 even though non-human processes are an integral part of
ecological succession and the agency of nature to act on and remediate the site.
As a result, there is frequently pressure to make use of the space through its
redevelopment, largely halting any further successional processes that would
progress the space into true habitat which could sustain a degree of
biodiversity.170 The wild garden that develops in spaces that are vacant and
abandoned is a far cry from the purposely constructed natural garden that is
built within cultural contexts, but each have both a profound and conflicting
influence upon the people who experience these spaces.
The objectification of nature occurs through each aspect of the concepts
of the four natures: Inasmuch as landscape objectifies the world, in the form of
scenery, resource, or ecosystem for example- it sets up hierarchical orders
among social groups and among humans and nature more generally. Corner
6 University of Waterloo School of Architecture Fourth Nature Conference, "Fourth Natures: Mediated Landscapes,"
University of Waterloo, Canada http://www.architecture.uwaterloo.ca/fourthnatures /about-fourth-natures.html
(accessed 2.10.12).
167 Bruno Latour, Pandora's Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press,
1999).
168 J.P. Collins et al, "A New Urban Ecology," American Scientist, 88 (2000): 422.
169 Joan Nassauer, "Messy Ecosystems, Orderly Frames," Landscape Journal 14 (1995): 164.
170 J.P. Collins et al, "A New Urban Ecology," American Scientist, 88 (2000): 422.
44


notes, One is always an outsider, as far as the beholding of manufactured
landscape goes, for to be inside entails the evaporation of landscape into
everyday place or milieu. It is in this deeper sense that landscape as place and
milieu may provide a more substantial image than that of the distanced scenic
veil, for the structures of place help a community to establish collective meaning
and identity.171 As members of an ecosystem and residing at the top of the
hierarchy, it may seem unnatural for humans to actively think about urban
environments as complex systems that are simultaneously both human and non-
human. But despite complex infrastructural networks, these landscapes continue
to respond to numerous sets of stimuli that are both biotic and abiotic in
character. While the city is a heavily proscribed environment made up of the
highest densities of people, architecture and infrastructure, it remains a dynamic
product of nature.
171 James Corner, "Introduction." In Recovering Landscape : Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture (New York:
Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 11-12.
45


CHAPTER 6
TRANSFORMATION: BUILDING A RECEPTIVE HISTORY OF SITE
The Nature Of Nature in The City:
The High Line as An Expression Of Human and Non-Human
Processes Over Time
The purpose of this chapter is to develop a reception history of the High
Line and to build an understanding of the site as a palimpsest. The layers of this
palimpsest have been built and intertwined by processes that are not solely
controlled by humans. Any site, whether it be first, second, third or fourth nature
is touched by the human hand in some way, just as it is touched by non-human
ecological forces. These interactions are always at play on a site and work to
develop new relationships and changing qualities of landscape amongst hybrid
ecosystems.
The intent here is to describe the evolution of these processes in a way
that allows an understanding of how these processes responded over the course
of the last century and through the lens of the High Lines four historical phases.
While this section provides a historical account of cultural movements in flux, the
goal is to consider the development of the High Line as a physical element of a
complex habitat whose role changes within the context of spatial contention.
Throughout the research that I have conducted, there has been selective editing
of the sites history and an active dismissal of the original role of the site as active
transportation system and abandoned space. If any signifying practice
symbolized a true repugnance for the structure, it was the iconifying of the space
through Joel Sternfelds photo documentation and then the subsequent scraping
and removal of every biotic and abiotic process on the site. This chapter will
explore the High Line and the Chelsea neighborhood as a habitat responding to
environmental conditions and operating as a medium for urban nature. It will
also explore the relationships between the establishment of non-human
ecosystems in urban environments and the resulting cultural changes that occur
over time. By constructing a narrative that recognizes the human and non-human
processes of the site a more extensive receptive history may be illuminated,
providing a richer understanding of the dynamic forces that have and continue to
act on the High Line.172
Throughout its history, the High Line has functioned as a sign, exhibiting
varying degrees of relationships between what it is and its meaning. This can be
attributed to the multiplicity of context that the space experienced through its
cultural history. According to Semiotician Daniel Chandler, Contexts can change
the mode of classification. Signs can not be classified in terms of the three
modes without reference to the purposes of their uses within particular contexts.
" Research completed as part of the Mannahatta Project shows that the island was an extremely diverse place at the
time of Henry Hudson's arrival in 1609. The 56 catalogued ecological community types rivaled the biodiversity of
Yellowstone. Despite the known ecological history of the place as one dense with trees and streams, this chapter does
not aim to evaluate the development of the ecology overtime, but the responses of people to conditions within their
own habitat and the non-human processes that respond accordingly. See Eric W. Sanderson Sanderson, Eric.
Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City. Abrams Books. 2009.
46


A sign may be treated as symbolic by one person, iconic by another and
indexical by a third.173 Similarly, a sign can be a symbol, an icon and an index:174
The park map of the High Line is a good example of this: it is indexical in
identifying the physical locations of elements, it is iconic in representing the
directional relations and distances between landmarks, and it is symbolic
because it uses symbols whose meaning must be learned. Chandler further
interprets semiotic theory by noting that Signs may also shift in mode over
time.175 Such transient and unique qualities of sign systems parallel tenets of
Reception Theory as it pertains to interpretations of a landscape. Cultural
associations like Nassauers cues of care altered the human understanding of
the High Line as cared for over the decades.
As a result, the High Lines identity changed, allowing for it to be
perceived with differing meanings and as all three modes of index, icon and
symbol in each of its historical periods. At the time of its initial construction as
transportation infrastructure it was a symbol of modernism, of the ability of
humans to overcome nature with technology and a symbol of urbanization.
Concurrently as icon it represented the overcoming of site adversity, New Deal
economics, and city building. As index the High Line exemplified shipping
industry efficiency, safety for citizens and a traffic-sorting system.
After abandonment by the railroad, the High Line became contested
terrain, derelict space and growing medium. As a symbol it represented the citys
devolving post-industrial status, the rise of the automobile industry, and the post-
modern era.
Its presence became iconic of the inefficiencies of government planning, the
social fragmentation and upheaval that was occurring in the neighborhoods and
playing out in through the rise of illicit sub-cultures. It was also iconic of the
demise of the railroad industry. During this time, its indexical characteristics
marked it as a cultural wilderness and derelict space as a drug haven. Its
physical presence in the landscape made it a barrier between the community of
Chelsea and the Hudson River.
The contemporary High Line as preserved and redeveloped park has
made it a symbol of todays cultural values about park-building. It is a symbol of
the vested economic interests and hegemonial power of development over lower-
income communities. It symbolizes the domestication of nature even through the
preserving and saving of nature as much as it symbolizes the grassroots
ingenuity of FHL and post-modern ideology. As an icon the High Line represents
an aestheticized simulation of wild nature represented in a Picturesque style,
representing nature as a metaphorical spectacle in this way. The park is indexical
through its function as a re-use design and promenade spurring urban renewal.
173 Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: The Basics (New York: Routledge, 2002), 43.
174 Ibid, 43.
175 Ibid, 43.
47


I. Pre-Development Conditions (1900-1930)
Shaping a Human Habitat
From the mid-19th century until the early
20th century, Manhattan was undergoing rapid
urbanization and its West Side was a frenzied
area of commercial and residential activity and
circulation. Much of this conflict arose as a
result of the 1847 City of New Yorks
authorization of street-level railroad tracks.176
Cars, pedestrians, horse-drawn carts, and
freight rail lines all competed for space to move
within the same travel corridors. By 1890, the
shoreline had already been transformed into a
linear tract of land for marine-oriented commerce
Figure 6.1 Looking North from 23rd St.
and Ninth Avenue.
Credit: The New York City Historical
Society
through land fill deposition and pier
construction.177 Passenger ships docked at
terminals such as Chelsea Piers, creating hubs
for further masses of people to gather and
disseminate. With so many types of uses together in the same area, it is no
wonder that use conflicts arose, to the detriment of the community. So numerous
were the accidents occurring between freight trains and street-level traffic that
10th Avenue became known as Death Avenue. In an effort to create a safer
neighborhood, men on horses, called the West Side Cowboys, rode in front of
the trains waving red flags as a warning to people crossing the rail corridor. By
the 1870s, the community had become outraged over environmental conditions
caused by the at-grade railroad traffic. Smoke, fumes and soot permeated the air
as the rumbling noise of the heavy steel cars mixed with a growing urban
population. The use of crossing guards was instituted 24 hours a day. While
these dangerous conditions persisted until after WWI, the power of the railroad
only grew: In 1896 New York State extended the railroads franchise from 50 to
500 years.178 By 1900, about 250 meatpacking plants and slaughterhouses
prospered in the area.179
Chelsea has a long history as a diverse but cohesive community,
championing for a better quality of life since the early Progressive Era.
Characteristics of progressivism included a favorable attitude toward urban-
industrial society, belief in mankind's ability to improve the environment and
conditions of life.180 As a result, in 1908 the congestion of commercial traffic led
6 High Line, "History of the High Line," Friends of the High Line, http://www.thehighline.org/about/high-line-historv
(accessed January 12, 2012).
177 Daniel Walsh. Reconnaissance Mapping of Landfills in New York City. National Groundwater Association.
http://info.ngwa.org/gwol/pdf/910155209.PDF (Accessed 3.25.12) 392.
178 Design Trust for Public Space, Reclaiming the High Line, 45,
http://www.designtrust.org/pubs/01_Reclaiming_High_Line.pdf, (Accessed 2.10.2012).
179 AMNY, "Last of the Pack," AMNY, http://www.amny.com/urbanite-l.812039 /last-of-the-pack-inside-the-beefy-
heart-of-the-meatpacking- district-1.1753483 (accessed January 30, 2012).
180 Maureen Flanagan, America Reformed: Progressives andProgressivisms, 1890s-1920s (London: Oxford University
Press, 2007).
48


to the protests of over 500 people and the formation of citizens advocacy
groups, including the Social Reform Clubs Committee which later became the
League to end Death Avenue.
Between 1911 and 1925, several models for an elevated multi-transport
corridor were presented though consideration of any of them was delayed until
after World War I. Between 1905 and 1940, the population of Chelsea decreased
rapidly as residential housing was replaced by business.181 Finally, in 1929 after
more than 50 years of public debate about the hazard, the City and State of New
York and the New York Central Railroad agreed on the West Side Improvement
Project, which included an elevated rail line. The entire project was 13 miles long
and eliminated 105 street-level railroad crossings. It also added 32 acres to
Riverside Park. The project cost over $150 million in 1930 dollars (more than $2
billion today). 182
According to Donathan Salkaln, member of the Chelsea Reform
Democratic Club, Chelseas fortunes might have been different had the RMS
Titanic not sunk. Pier 60 (at 11th Ave and 19th St) was to be NYs berth for the
Titanic, a potential catalyst for early efforts of urban renewal. Instead, Chelsea
Piers (built in 1907) and handling much of Trans-Atlantic luxury passenger lines
until 1935 became the destination for survivors via the RMS Carpathia. He likens
the neighborhood of Chelsea to the survivors of the Titanic:183
Its turbulent history of change has tested the resolve of many, as
has the force of discrimination. Industries of railroad, warehousing,
trucking, passenger shipping, manufacturing, and riots, have
stormed through its streets, leaving behind generations of those
left in the wake. The last relic of the railroad industry is now the
High Line, the docks that served luxury liners are now parks, and
the giant warehouses have been converted into art galleries,
offices, and condos. Historic Districts and strong zoning laws have
kept a good portion of our neighborhood in the sunlight, but those
laws are continually challenged, as is affordable housing, and our
way of life... The seeds of civic spirit spread by John Lovejoy Elliot
and Clement Clark Moore have grown into strong roots of passion.
Local block associations, planning boards, community groups, and
politicians have since been diligent in embracing and improving
the lives of a very diverse Chelsea Community.
!1 Donathan Salkaln,"History of Chelsea," Chelsea Reform Democratic Club Website, http://crdcnvc.org
/Websites/CCtest/lmages/Historv/New Chelsea History Timelime.pdf (accessed February 10, 2012).
32 Idem.
33 Idem.
49


II. Active Use By The Railroad (1934-1960)
High Line as Infrastructure
How Central can'
Symbol: Overcoming nature with
technology, Modernist ideology, rise of
urbanization
Icon: Overcoming site adversity,
New Deal economics, citybuilding
Index: Emphasis on shipping
industry efficiency, citizen safety, traffic-
sorting system
The High Line was designed to be
efficient as a system as well as sensitive to
the gridded city plan. It ran through the
center of blocks rather than across avenues,
connecting to the warehouses and factories
the freight line serviced without the negative
conditions of elevated subways.184 185 In
1934, the High Line was operational, running
from 34th Street to St. Johns Park Terminal,
at Spring Street, transporting milk, meat,
produce, and raw and manufactured goods.
Once built, the High Line project was praised
as one of the greatest public improvements
in the history of New York.184 185 186
The structure that was fabricated as an
infrastructure corridor at 29 feet above grade was supported by 475 columns with
art deco steel framing, reinforced concrete decking, 3 of gravel ballast, and
metal handrails. It was designed 30 wide in most places but is as wide as 88 in
some areas, allowing for rail tracks to travel in both directions. Its load capacity
was four fully loaded freight trains.
While the High Line was being planned and built, the city landscape was
changing rapidly. In 1930, plans had been submitted for Rockefeller Center, the
city had started installing traffic lights, and in 1931 the Empire State building was
completed. The physical nature of Modernism had taken hold and NYC was
leading the way in its efforts to use technology as the tool to create an efficient
and robust urban core. This movement drove a human ambition to overcome the
obstacles that faced dynamically growing urban communities and in doing so, to
take control of their environments. This perspective drove the engineering feat
Figure 6.2 High Line/Chelsea Warehouse Marketing
Poster
Credit: The New York City Historical Society
184 Joel Sternfeld, Walking the High Line (Steidl: Gottingen, 2001), 57.
185 The High Line is referred to as an elevated track until the late 1980s when it becomes commonly referred to as the
High Line. In an interview with Victor Hernandez (July 10, 2011), he claimed that the name originated in response to
the drug activity that occurred up on the site.
186 Design Trust for Public Space, Reclaiming the High Line, 45,
http://www.designtrust.org/pubs/01_Reclaiming_High_Line.pdf, (accessed 2.10.2012).
50


that was the High Line. Today, the elevation of roads, trains and other
infrastructural networks in urban environments is an expected view in the
horizon. In the early 1930s an elevated freight rail line running through buildings
was a testament to the citys commitment towards technological progress and
creating better living conditions for its communities.
III. Abandonment And Opportunistic Use (1960-1990)
High Line as contested terrain, derelict space and growing medium:
Symbol: Post-industrial era, rise of the automobile industry, post-modern
era.
Icon: Inefficiencies of government, social fragmentation, rise of illicit sub-
culture, demise of railroad industry
Index: Wilderness/derelict space, drug haven, barrier between the
community and the Hudson River
The 1950s and 1960s saw the completion of the Interstate Highway
System and the growth of the trucking industry, resulting in a drop in rail traffic,
nationally and on the High Line. Despite the decrease in rail traffic, trains
continued to service the area. Efforts for urban renewal and increased residential
housing led to the demolition of the southernmost section. In 1962 as part of the
Mitchel-Lana Housing Program, Penn South was built. The ten-building
affordable housing complex had 2,820 units and was built between Eighth and
Ninth Aves and 23rd and 29th Streets. It remains a diverse and affordable
resource for housing in the community.
The tide of social change began to turn in the 60s when Greenwich
Villages Stonewall Inn was raided by police in 1969, an event which affected
Chelseas future and its neighborhood dynamics. The resulting gay riot brought
attention to the area and highlighted the powerful efforts against sexual-
orientation discrimination. At the same time the cost of living in Greenwich Village
had been increasing, pricing gays out of the neighborhood; socially and ethnically
diverse Chelsea welcomed the gay and lesbian community.187
While New York City was becoming progressively more metropolitan,
Chelsea became a place for the fragmented populations of the citys underbelly.
Urban landscape conditions had changed adjacent to the elevated track; what
had been a productive corridor of activity was now a shadowy and dangerous
area. During the 70s and 80s, the High Line itself became a hotspot for a mixing
of club- goers and meatpackers as a dance, drug and sex scene emerged. The
area was rampant with illicit behavior, including drug use and transactions, first
heroin, then crack. Thirty feet above the street, the space was used for deviant
sexual behavior, theft, prostitution and assault. There were frequent shootings
beneath it while warehouse break-ins and squatting was common. The corridor
became a homeless haven. The High Line was never referred to as the High
187 Donathan Salkaln,"History of Chelsea," Chelsea Reform Democratic Club Website, http://crdcnvc.org
/Websites/CCtest/lmages/Historv/New Chelsea History Timelime.pdf (accessed February 10, 2012).
51


Line until the proliferation of drug activity in the space. 188 Victor Hernandez
described the seedy conditions that developed adjacent to the High Line:
Many clubs developed, mostly related to hardcore transsexual
behavior; they were also drug and art havens. Artists traveled in
cliques and networked through the clubs. The gang presence was
evident: anti-gay biker gangs would frequent the area and were
extremely violent against the gay community. Warehouses were
used illegally; buildings were completely abandoned and burned,
the area was extremely dark at night. Underground art production
occurred in the warehouses despite the lack of functioning lighting
systems. The police would not even enter the area or they would
come well past the time of the criminal events. They would never
go up on the High Line. The neighborhood was very well defined
by sections- places where you could go and places where you
couldnt. Despite this, the community had a unified response to
heavy criminal and gang activity. Neighborhoods would band
together and root out those who threatened the area, whether it
was gangs or individuals.189
But there were tame recreational uses too: couples often used the space
and people would walk it in the evenings to watch the sunset and the night sky.
Hernandez noted the heavy regulation of the park today and that people can no
longer do many of the things that were special about going up there. The
previous experience provided an opportunity for privacy, solitude, and a long
walking corridor. He remarked that todays experience of the High Line is
adversely limited by its hours of operation and heavy tourist crowds, preventing
some of the better experiences of the space.190
During the late 1970s, early efforts to change the face of the
neighborhood began with the conversion of some of the warehouse buildings into
apartments. By 1985 renowned gay club Mineshaft was shuttered while
bohemian utopia Florent restaurant opened, welcoming its diverse clientele of
artists, musicians, movie stars and neighborhood flotsam. Florent was a lone
eatery in a shadowy industrial neighborhood nurturing an all-night carnival
atmosphere.191 Finally, in 1980, the last train ran on the High Line, pulling three
carloads of frozen turkeys. A group of property owners lobbied from 1985-1989
for the demolition of the entire structure, protesting the unsafe structural
8 Victor Hernandez, bellhop of the Hotel Chelsea and forty-year resident of the Chelsea neighborhood (born and raised
locally) described his experience of the High Line overthe years. He described his experience of the High Line overthe
period that it was a derelict space. Mr Hernandez is currently writing a book on the history and development of the
Chelsea neighborhood. He claims intimate knowledge of local comings and goings, people who inhabited, visited and
spent time in the Chelsea area, as well as specific illicit behavior and events that occurred in the neighborhood. Mr.
Hernandez was hesitant to divulge specifics about pre-development High Line history due to a confidentiality
agreement with the Hotel Chelsea Management, as well as his reluctance to divulge information that would be
included in his book.
189 Victor Hernandez. Interview by Patsy McEntee-Shaffer. New York City July 10, 2011.
190 , ,
Idem.
191 Stephen Holden, "Florent, the Restaurant and the Man, on Film," New York Times, 19 May 201,
http://movies.nvtimes.com/2011/05/2Q/movies/restaurant- Florent-celebrated-in
documentarv.html (accessed March 24, 2012).
52


conditions and its blight in the neighborhood.192 The Chelsea Property Owners
(CPO) owned land under the High Line that was purchased at prices reflecting
the High Line's easement. They were required to prove that existing financing of
$30 million to fund the demolition was secured prior to approval of its removal.193
Peter Obletz, a Chelsea resident, activist, and railroad enthusiast, challenged
demolition efforts in court and tried to re-establish rail service on the Line.
Obletzs contestation and the lack of full financing for the demolition further
delayed the structures demise.194
Adjacent resident of the High Line, Patty Heffley described the space: she
had moved to New York in
1978 eager to photograph
Manhattan's punk scene. She
chose her apartment because
it was a place where she
could make a lot of noise. The
High Line was an agreeable
presence. At first, a single
locomotive rumbled by once
or twice a week, but that
eventually stopped. Weeds
were growing. Ms. Heffley
said she always wanted to
plant flowers, but never found
a way. "I tried filling a water
Figure 6.3 High Line guerilla gardening balloon With Seeds, but it's
Credit: New York Architecture. farther than you think," she
said. 195
As rail traffic decreased and finally ended, so did maintenance of the rail
right-of-way. Routine track repair and ballast reinforcement sustained a safe rail
line during its active period, facilitating drainage of water, keeping the tracks
securely supported and preventing vegetative growth.196 Once the corridor was
neglected, conditions developed that encouraged successional growth of plant
life: the ballast material began to break down, expedited by the extreme
microclimates relative to its location. Rail traffic had brought sediment material
into the site prior to abandonment and the industrial nature of the district
contributed additional sediment particles to the environment. In addition, the site
experienced exposure to high winds and precipitation off of the Hudson River,
southwest exposure for sunlight, and sporadic warehouse buildings providing
protection for the establishment of tree species. The winds and birds deposited
Corey Kilgannon, "Neighborhood Report: West Side; Fight Over Unused Rail Line" The New York Times 16 May 1999,
http://www.nvtimes.com/1999/05/16/nvregion/ neighborhood-report-west-side-fight-over-unused-rail-line.html
(accessed 3.10.12).
193 Joshua David, Robert Hammond, The High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky (New York: Farrar,
Straus and Giroux, 2011), 10
194 Design Trust for Public Space, Reclaiming the High Line, 59,
http://www.designtrust.org/pubs/01_Reclaiming_High_Line.pdf, (accessed 2.10.2012).
195 Green Penelope, "West Side Story Amid the Laundry," New York Times, 25 June,
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/25/garden/25seen.html (accessed March 10, 2012).
196 William Hay, Railroad Engineering (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1982), 409-410.
53


seeds in the ballast which had become a growing medium for a variety of 161
native and non-native species.197 Under these conditions, the space quickly
transformed (back) to wild, reminiscent of the failures associated with neglect,
including the propagation of messy
native and weed species,198 which
are an integral part of ecological
processes of succession.
Shortly before the High Line
Section 1 opening, a YouTube
interview with Joel Sternfeld was
released. Playing up the iconic
wilderness fantasy, Sternfeld
saidthe High Line is a true ruin; it
was untouched for twenty-plus
years. It is pristine, though it doesnt
fit the publics notion of pristine,
which is nature untraveled. But in
some ways, the High Line is more
pristine than Yellowstone or Yosemite because every inch of it is authentic.
Sternfeld is comparing himself to William Henry Jackson, who captured
Yellowstone with photography and presented the images to Congress, leading to
the preservation of the land as a National Park. He goes on to say that his
photographs allow people to see the High Line... to see this secret
landscape.199
The High Line wilderness grew over a time when Chelsea was also in a
culturally wild state, telling a story of the relic as a place that people inscribed
meaning to. Its wild neglect and avoidance by the hegemonial guard signified the
space symbolically as a site where the known social conflicts could play
themselves out. But remembering a story about the human wild is not the kind of
history that a neighborhood undergoing gentrification behind the theatrics of new
park development wants to tell. While much of what has been written and talked
about regarding the High Line as a redeveloped park has indicated a nostalgia
for this secret wilderness, much of the nearly 30 years of neglect has been
ignored as part of its history and redevelopment.
IV. Documenting And Simulating Wild Neglect (1990-Present)
High Line as Preserved and Redeveloped Park
Symbol: Development over community, domesticated nature, grassroots
ingenuity, post-modernism
Richard Stalter, "The Flora on the High Line, New York City, New York, Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 131 no.
4 (Oct. Dec., 2004): 388.
See Appendix C for the catalogued species list of flora found on the High Line May 11, 2001.
198 J.P. Collins et al, "A New Urban Ecology," American Scientist, 88 (2000): 422.
199 YouTube Website, "New York Voices: Joel Sternfeld," 4 March 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch2v =INzr7g8FQgk
(accessed December 12, 2011).
54


Icon: Wild nature, nature as spectacle, nature-in-memoriam, ideological
photographic representation
Index: Sustainable re-use design, urban park preferences, simulated
wilderness.
As the Giuliani administration was nearing its end, the community was
divided over the preservation or demolition of the High Line, with the majority of
the landowners adjacent to the structure in support of its demolition. By the mid-
1990s the face of the neighborhood was already changing: with the
commercialization of SoHo, art galleries began to take residence in Chelsea,
quickly becoming the center of the New York art world. Today more than 350 art
galleries exist in Chelsea and are home to modern art from both established and
upcoming artists.200 In the late 90s Jeffrey New York established themselves in
Chelsea, leading the way for the arrival of high-end clothing boutiques while a
former Oreo cookie factory was renovated to become Chelsea Market. With the
arrival of the galleries and boutiques, the High Line began to develop new
meaning. Adjacent landowners saw the structure as a detriment to their ability to
maximize the value of their real estate. The rusting sooty structure and wild
nature that was evident from street level indicated a lack of care or intention for
the relic. As a result, the pressure to make use of the space through its
redevelopment could be established as productive and useful for the
community. Such actions in any wild environment quickly halt any further
successional processes that would eventually progress the space into true
habitat.201
William Cronon notes that there is a fundamental problem with thinking
that makes human civilization malign and nature benign.202 This is a mode of
thinking that can be seen in the High Lines development. By viewing the High
Line as a place that developed as a wilderness because of neglect and the
absence of humans, nature is inferred a passive and benevolent role.
Alternatively, the role of humans is viewed as the destroyer, controller and the
exploiter. The recognition of the power and resilience of such an ecosystem is
greatly underestimated. The relationship that the people of this neighborhood
had with this site as a wilderness is also denied. In interviews, Robert Hammond
repeatedly uses as a tag line You could only keep that original landscape if no
one went up there.203 Similarly, in an interview with New York Magazine, Joel
Sternfeld spoke about the mournful passing of what was his own private park for
the year that he documented it: Yes, no question about it. I feel really sad. It was
beautiful. It was perfect. It was authentic. I wish everyone could have the
experience that I had. But you cant have 14 million people on a ruin.204
"Stylish Traveler: Chelsea Girls," Travel + Leisure, September 2005 http://www.travelandleisure .com /articles/stvlish-
traveler-chelsea-girls-september-2005. (accessed March 14, 2012).
201 J.P. Collins et a I, "A New Urban Ecology," American Scientist, 88 (2000): 422.
202 William Cronon, "The Trouble with Wilderness" in Uncommon Ground (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996),
69-90.
203 Joshua David, Robert Hammond, The High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky (New York: Farrar,
Straus and Giroux, 2011), 95.
204 Adam Sternbergh, "The High Line: It Brings Good Things to Life," NY Magazine, 29 April 2007,
http://nymag.eom/print/2/news/features/31273/ (accessed December 12, 2011).
55


In an effort to advocate for
the High Line's preservation and
reuse as a park, FHL was founded
in 1999 by two Chelsea residents,
Joshua David and Robert
Hammond. The two had met at a
Community Board meeting where
the demolition of the structure was
being discussed. Since then, they
have built a citywide constituency of
High Line supporters, including more
than 3,300 members and a full-time
staff of 30. Joshua David had lived
in Chelsea since 1986, was a
member of the Advisory Council of Transportation Alternatives and was a
member of Manhattan Community Board No. 4 from 2000 to 2006. Robert
Hammond has lived in the West Village since 1994. He had worked as a
consultant for a variety of entrepreneurial endeavors and non-profits, including
the Times Square Alliance and Alliance for the Arts. From 2002 to 2005 he
served as an Ex-Officio Trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Both men had evident knowledge of how to fundraise, garner political
support and drive a media juggernaut. Some of their early efforts to drive the
preservation effort included two key representational practices. One of these was
to hire Paula Scher of Pentagram Design to create a logo for the High Line. The
other was to ask Joel Sternfeld to photograph the space and its wild aesthetic.
Though Sternfeld encouraged maintaining the High Line in its 2000-2001 state,
he also offered his photographs of the structure to be sold at an art auction to
benefit FHLs campaign for transforming the viaduct into a park. Since then, his
photographs have routinely galvanized FHLs fundraising campaigns and media
exposure.
In 2001, Adam Gopnik wrote about the High Line in the New Yorker. The
article featured Joel Sternfelds photography and brought the project national
exposure:
The most peaceful high place in New York right now is a stretch
of viaduct called the High Line...[It] combines the appeal of those
fantasies in which New York has returned to the wild with an
almost Zen quality of measured, peaceful distance.206
That same year, the Design Trust for Public Space and FHL funded
research for "Reclaiming the High Line," a planning study which created a
planning framework for the High Line's preservation and reuse. By 2002, only
about 36 of the over 250 original meatpackers remained in the area. City support
was soon garnered through the passing of a City Council resolution advocating 205 206
Figure 6.5 Joel Sternfeld: Ken Robson's Christmas Tree,
January 2001
205 Thomas De Monchaux, "How Everyone Jumped Aboard a Railroad to Nowhere," New York Times 8 May 2008,
http://www.nvtimes.com/2005/05/08/arts/design/Q8monc.html (accessed June 7, 2011).
206 Adam Gopnik, New York Journal, "A Walk on the High Line," The New Yorker, 21 May 2001, 44.
56


for the High Line's reuse in March 2002. By October, a study done by Friends of
the High Line found that the High Line project was economically feasible: new tax
revenues created by the public space would be greater than the costs of
construction. The City then filed with the federal Surface Transportation Board for
railbanking, making it City policy to preserve and reuse the High Line. It was
during this time that a part of the Chelsea neighborhood was landmarked through
the designation of the Chelsea Historic District.
The following July, FHL conducted an open ideas competition, "Designing
the High Line," soliciting proposals for the High Line's reuse. Over 700 entries
were submitted from the international design community; hundreds of them were
displayed at Grand Central Terminal, an iconic representation of how the original
model for the elevated railway track was presented in 1916.
From March to September 2004, FHL and the City of New York
conducted a process to select a design team for the High Line; that team was
James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, with additional
experts in horticulture, engineering, security, maintenance, public art, and other
disciplines. The State of New York, CSX Transportation, Inc. and the City of
New York then jointly filed with the Surface Transportation Board to railbank the
High Line.
For a year between 1999 and 2000,
Sternfeld photographed the corridor,
creating a collection of imagery that
would drive newspaper articles, gallery
exhibits and a fundraising campaign
under the campaign of Save the High
Line. Later, Adam Sterbergh of the
New York Times wrote:
The last irony is that the
rest of the High Line, the one
that Sternfeld photographed, the
one that sparks that reliable
hallelujah moment in the hearts
of one goggle-eyed visitor after
In fact, it was doomed from the
start. Hammond and David knew that, in order to rally initial
support, they had to convince people that the High Line was worth
preserving in the first place, and they did so with Sternfelds
bucolic images of an untouched pasture in the sky.207
The Illusive Secret Garden"
The wild nature that develops in spaces that are vacant and abandoned is a
far cry from the purposely constructed natural garden that is built within the
orderly frames of cultural contexts208 but each have both a profound and
conflicting influence upon the people who experience them. Those who
207 Adam Sternbergh, "The High Line: It Brings Good Things to Life," NY Magazine, 29 April 2007,
http://nymag.eom/print/2/news/features/31273/ (accessed December 12, 2011).
208Joan Nassauer, "Messy Ecosystems, Orderly Frames," Landscape Journal 14 (1995): 161-170.

Figure 6.6 The High Line's former main entrance
Credit: New York Architecture. June 2003.
another isnt being saved at all.
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experienced the wild High Line
described it as an alternative
reality. In 2002, Philip Connors
described in a poetic article for
the Wall Street Journal his
experience exploring the off-limits
High Line:209
{The High Line} is a
treasure now mostly because
it's the structure that time
forgot. It beckoned because it
was . green. From 23rd
Street and 10th Avenue, I
Figure 6.7 Save the Tracks Mural 2000 looked Up and S3W 3 Strip Of
Joel Sternfeld meadow in the sky. I had to get
there...
This required climbing a fence, heaping old automobile tires into a pile,
scaling the pile and heaving myself onto a factory rooftop, then
shimmying up steel support beams onto the tracks.
Behold! The city opened like a flower, the towers of Midtown cupping the
Empire State Building like petals around a gleaming silver stamen... A
swath of Manhattan had gone to seed, reverting to a kind of native prairie:
knee-high grasses, white and yellow wildflowers, a miracle born of
neglect.
At 30th Street, a corrugated tin barricade blocks the way, but
someone has torn a gash in it just big enough to allow a man to slip
through. Recently, an artist painted a mural on the back side. In the sky
are the words "save the tracks," as if written by an airplane skywriter. On
the right-hand side of the curve, going south, a sculpture collection sits on
a rooftop: funky-looking abstractions fashioned of multicolored hoops and
painted wire mesh, like the offspring of a Slinky and a tennis
racket... When you emerge on the other side, you see something sublime:
a small garden with a tiny maple
tree, a miniature pine and a patch
of daisies and sunflowers. The
gardener tends this lovely plot by
stepping from a third-floor
apartment window on a plank laid
across to the tracks. For a few
seasons, the little pine was
wreathed by a string of Christmas
lights.
In a shady spot where the
tracks are bracketed by two old
warehouse buildings, a miniature
Figure 6.8 Ailanthus Trees, 25th Street, May 2000
Joel Sternfeld
209 Philip Connors,"A Magic-Carpet View of the City," Wall Street Journal Online, 22 August 2002,
http://online.wsi.com/article/SB1029984812B709Q7755.html (accessed March 10, 2012).
58


forest has risen; yet just beyond it the tracks are littered with rusty
buckets, old spray-paint cans (graffiti detritus) and a lonesome-looking
pair of turquoise underpants. In this way the tracks are like the streets
below -- elegant here, grubby there On the High Line nature has
restored order to a chaotic sliver of Manhattan's West Side, and the only
evidence of chaos appears in the flotsam left behind by humans....
William Cronon notes a manner of thinking that makes human civilization
malign and nature benign. This is a mode of thinking that can be seen in the High
Lines development. By viewing the High Line as a place that developed as a
wilderness because of neglect and the absence of humans, nature is inferred a
passive role. The recognition of the power and resilience of such an ecosystem is
greatly underestimated. The relationship that the people of this neighborhood
had with this site as a wilderness is also denied. In interviews, Robert Hammond
repeatedly uses as a tag line You could only keep that original landscape if no
one went up there.210 He continues, As they dug you realized how fragile the
plant life was...it astounded me that such a lush landscape could survive in only
inches of soil. For a while it was just a torn-up mess of mud and gravel and then
they got it down to the bare concrete. It became a blank slate which felt liberating
because it freed you from thinking of the HL as something to be preserved and
allowed you to focus on what you could create there.211
As theorized by Corner, the High Line quickly became a landscape
valued for its unique and intrinsic characteristics, its geography, its scenery, its
elevated nature and its ability to carry on the wilderness myth. Corner remarks,
Whether as theme park, wilderness area, or scenic drive, landscape has
become a huge, exotic attraction unto itself, a place of entertainment, fantasy,
escape, and refuge.212 By April 2005 landscape architecture and its vision for
nature on the High Line had become high art with the exhibition opening of the
preliminary design by James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio +
Renfro at the Museum of Modern Art. Meanwhile, New York magazine had
declared Chelsea the citys most fashionable neighborhood. In June 2005 the
Surface Transportation Board issued a Certificate of Interim Trail Use for the
High Line, authorizing the City and railroad to conclude railbanking negotiations.
Five months later the City took ownership of the High Line from CSX
Transportation, Inc., (which donated the structure), and the City and CSX signed
a Trail Use Agreement. These two actions solidified the preservation of the High
Line south of 30th Street.
In April 2006, the first phase of construction on Section 1 of the High Line
began (Gansevoort Street to 20th Street) and groundbreaking was celebrated as
a single rail track was lifted. Tracks, ballast, and debris are removed, and the
tracks were mapped, tagged, and stored with the intent that some would be
reinstalled in the design. Steel is then sandblasted and repairs made to concrete
and drainage systems, and installation of pigeon deterrents underneath the Line.
The scraping of all abiotic and biotic processes on the site had begun.
210 Joshua David, Robert Hammond, The High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky (New York: Farrar,
Straus and Giroux, 2011), 95.
211 Ibid, 96.
212 Alexander Wilson, The Culture of Nature: North American Landscape from Disney to the Exxon Valdez (Cambridge, MA:
Blackwell, 1992).
59


In 2008 landscape construction began on Section 1, with construction and
installation of pathways, access points, seating, lighting, and planting. The
Whitney Museum announced plans for a MePa annex while local institution
Florent closed. In June 2008 final designs were released for the High Line's
transformation to a public park. On June 9, 2009 Section 1 opened to the public.
By this time only about eight meatpackers remained in the neighborhood. Section
2 (West 20th Street to West 30th Street) opened to the public on June 8, 2011.
In Reclaiming the High Line, Elizabeth Barlow Rogers speaks of the City as a
palimpsest. She notes the development of settlement in areas as responsive to
geophysical conditions that existed in the area, then the development of urban
form as the next layertransportationbeing important to the exchange of
goods and services. She states that time is the element by which some things
are dynamic and
Figure 6.9 Wild Relics
Credit: New York Architecture. June 2003.
others static. In this way, new relationships are continually being formed and
transformed as these static and dynamic forces evolve. The High Line is an
optimal example of this.
As exhibited in this specific site history, human and non-human
processes interacted and responded at multiple scales and in numerous
contexts. What is clear is that while humans may respond to phenomenological
information about their environments, correcting for pollution, microclimate
affects, aesthetics and other sensorial information, the physical presence of
60


nature in urban landscapes remains a product of cultural movements and the
methods and manners of representation supported by those cultural forces. The
High Line as an artifact of the modernist era, as a medium for illicit and
expressionist behavior, as a garden and as a tourist attraction are all pieces of a
larger receptive history of hybridized ecologies.
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CHAPTER 7
THE CONSTRUCTION AND PRODUCTION OF NATURE
A Place with Multiple Meanings and Selected Interpretations:
A Semiotic Analysis of Representational Practice & Operations
Ive wanted to copy nature, but I
havent managed to... Nevertheless I
was pleased with myself for
discovering that the sun, for example,
cannot be reproduced, but has to be
represented by some other means.
- Paul Cezanne
Culture is the production of
of the interpretations regarding t
nature of the world common to
social group, where value and meaning are semiotically represented for the
benefit of the individual or group members.213 By looking at the character of
semiotic relationships that can be found within the High Line and its
transformation from an abandoned wild space to a public park a deeper
understanding of how we represent, portray, interpret and valuate nature may be
formed. Such awareness can aid an appreciation of the ways that meaning is
constructed; meaning is not transmitted, it is a complex product of interactions
between codes and conventions,214 where there is a necessity for relationships
to be learned. It is important to strip down the complexity of signs in order to
determine their true nature: this enables us to evaluate the multiple concepts
embedded in them, recognize the cultural values they communicate and identify
their authors and their authors motivations. Daniel Chandler, visual semiotician
at Aberystwyth University notes that deconstructing and contesting the realities
of signs can reveal whose realities are privileged and whose are suppressed.215
This chapter evaluates and expounds upon the research that has been
developed through the Semiotic Analysis Diagram of the High Line (Appendix A).
This inventory was developed from the identification of signs and signifying
practices that exist both materially and immaterially through the development and
design of the High Line. The investigation is inclusive of design elements and
principles, but also of representational operations and tactics. In this way, both
signs and signifying practices can be analyzed by characterizing the relationship
213
214
215
Mary LeCron Foster, and Lucy Botscharow, The Life of Symbols (Boulder: Westview Press, 1990), 1.
Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: The Basics (New York: Routledge, 2002), 14.
Ibid, 15.
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between each signifier and the concept that is represented. These individual
signs in the landscape convey ideas that collectively form a text for
understanding the human relationship with nature. This deconstruction has
identified a design narrative with pervasive representation of Picturesque ideals.
In addition to the physical signs in the designed landscape, selected contexts can
be recognized including the design translation from Joel Sternfelds photographic
representation as well as the edited narrative of human history that occurred
through the parks development.
Tenets of 18th century Picturesque landscape design indicated an
interpretive reading of the landscape, much like painting or literature of the same
era. But the aesthetic mode of the genre implies an emotional response, an
emphasis on the relational interpretations over the literal meanings.216 These
interpretations were drawn from the viewers full reception of nature with the
understanding that the landscapes interpretation was made richer by the
education of its viewer; the translation of literary works was relayed through
design and such visitors could understand that what they were seeing was a
staged experience. Likewise, ideas about the wild nature that existed on the High
Line have been largely generated by Joel Sternfelds photographs as well as by
articles that have been written and distributed in the media. FHL founders Joshua
David and Robert Hammond concede the power of visual representation in
driving support for the park, observing that this project has always been driven
by images.217 In terms of semiotics, the image representation of the site is then
understood to be only a likeness, an icon, of what the place actually is because
of the tactics and techniques of representation that occur in order to reproduce it.
The reception of the High Line is also understood differently by people depending
upon their individual knowledge of the neighborhood and site history as well as
their personal experience of wilderness. But while the early Picturesque assumed
a knowledgeable viewer who was able to experience the reception of landscape
from both an intellectual and phenomenological perspective, the High Line
exemplifies an alternative approach. The design actually assumes a visitor who
has little knowledge of the site history beyond the existence of the corridor as a
rail line and abandoned wilderness. Such editing of a sites narrative is inhibitive
of the same informed reading and alters (and in fact limits) the reception of
nature that is acquired.
Without understanding the full narrative of the High Line, the viewer
understands less about the human intent of the design and the complexity of
interpretation between the text and what is viewed. For the wilderness neophyte,
the High Line is an ecological stage of Picturesque-inspired smoke and mirrors,
further clouding an urban dwellers reception of wild nature.
216 Susan Herrington, "Framed Again: The Picturesque Aesthetics of Contemporary Landscapes," Landscape Journal 25
(March 2006): 26.
217Patrick Hazari, Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Designing the High Line: Gansevoort Street to 30th Street,
Friends of the High Line, (USA: Finlay Printing, LLC. 2008).
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The table below identifies tenets of the Picturesque that have been
communicated through signs identified in the High Line landscape.
Table 7.1 Tenets of the Picturesque218
1. Literal Picturesque representation. The photograph is now the painting: Photographic representation of nature is the source of production for iconic relationships. Regulated/orchestrated views.
11. Values for care and control Representation of nature as fragile. Evocation of sentimentality for the lost wilderness. Nature cant survive without the aid of humans Human authorship is purposely masked; natures processes are controlled by humans. Preferential treatment of constructed ecosystem: Ecotype model preference and species selection. Need to show care, nurturing for nature. Orderliness and signs of care for nature by humans is necessary, even high levels of care, including high design indicates an evolution of habitat-trendiness, desirability of neighborhood.
III. Evokes a sense of the sublime. Representations cultivate a sensibility of awe towards the landscape, romanticized and idealized nature.
IV. Representation of the pastoral. The working landscape has to be aestheticized. An idealized vision of country life and the working landscape. The architectural landscape as pastoral.
V. Manipulation of spectator views and experience.218 219 Orchestration of very particular views. Nature as spectacle, theatre, entertainment. Commodification of nature. Emphasis on the social production of space.
VI. Use of metaphor and literary conventions, follies and relics. The use of artifacts that would be deemed unsightly without aesthetics. The use of narratives and myth to drive design.
I. Reproducing The Picture
Joel Sternfelds photographic imagery taken between 1999 and 2000 set
a stage for the reception of nature but also for the expectations of viewing the
landscape with Picturesque conventions. Michael Cataldi et al. in Residues of a
218 See Chapter 4, Theoretical Foundations for the foundations of thought driving the Picturesque. Re-interpretations and
contributions to this theory can be found in:
Susan Herrington, "Framed Again: The Picturesque Aesthetics of Contemporary Landscapes," Landscape Journal 25
(March 2006): 26-29.
Joan Nassauer, "Messy Ecosystems, Orderly Frames," Landscape Journal 14 (1995): 161-170.
219 Herrington talks about the design approach of the Picturesque giving primacy to the spectator, implying the immersion
of the spectator into an imaginative experience. In this thesis I will be addressing such a design of viewshedsfor the
visitor as a power taken away from them, making them a passive spectator in a landscape of heavily orchestrated visual
practices.
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Dream World observes of Sternfelds images, His choice of camera and
language play up the visual conventions of their subjects, and the use of a larger
format for the High Line quotes conventions of modern landscape photography.
These conventions are themselves dependent on the picturesque genre of
painting.220
The continued use of Sternfelds photographs in representing the space
contributes to the cultural learning of how the aesthetics of urban wild landscapes
should be viewed. In this way, the working landscape must be aestheticized221
through design and care. Art historian T. J. Clark analyzed such a transformation
in post-1860s Paris as railways became an ideal subject as landscape relics,
bridging a cultural divide of ideals between the industrial manufacturing industry
and the pastoral rural experience. According to Clark, the figureless railway was
easily represented in association with the aesthetics of the countryside and
disassociated from its role in trade and transport. This idea has a similar
translation to Rails-to-Trails projects such as the High Line where the
aestheticization of the labored landscape diminishes its former role in industry.
These conventions affirm the use of railway artifacts and industry relics as
ornament in Sternfelds photographs, as well as their subsequent reference as
floating signifiers and design elements, divorced from the material conditions of
maintenance labor, public and industrial transportation.222
Views along the High Line exhibit qualities of the pastoral abundantly
more than the sublime. Historian David Marshall described the picturesque
aesthetic as exhibiting a kind of rough beauty: fallen ruins, wilderness, forgotten
and unknown territories...depending on a certain elegance and canny detail,
particularly in the treatment of ruined and crumbled remains of antiquity, where
detailed foregrounds gradually give way to horizon lines merging land and sky in
the background.223 In contrast, techniques of the sublime where the viewer is
immersed in the foreground experience and the background objects were
0 Michael Cataldi et al.,"Residues of a Dream World : The High Line, 2011," Theory Culture Society no. 7-8 (Los Angeles:
SAGE, 2011),362.
221 Ibid, 368.
222 T.J. Clark, The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers (NewYork: Knopf., 1989), 189-90.
223 Michael Cataldi et al.,"Residues of a Dream World : The High Line, 2011," Theory Culture Society no. 7-8 (Los Angeles:
SAGE, 2011),364.
65


purposely hidden to some degree.224 Along the High Line the emphasis is on the
creation of more expansive landscape experiences, favoring more pastoral
design production. Certainly there are brief corridors of dense plantings in the
Gansevoort Woodland when the viewer is immersed in the landscape, but these
events are short-lived.
For the contemporary park visitor, the photograph performs the role that
the 18th century painting played. Photographic representation of the urban
pastoral landscape becomes the source for the production of iconic relationships.
As a result, the use of orchestrated and regulated views within the design force
perspectives that formulate the composition of pictures, providing foreground (ex.
the plantings), mid-ground (ex. the High Line structure and railings) and
background (ex. the new high design architectural landscape). But the urge to
represent and iconify the High Line is not solely the impetus of the visitor. High
Line staff are present in the space encouraging visitors to post their images to
the High Line Flickr pool on the FHL website.
11. Values for Care and Control
The High Line is a highly maintained and regulated park where values for
landscape care and the tending to nature are evident. Its translation from the
wild aesthetic of the abandoned space has left few parallels because of the
control and nurturing exemplified in this idealized version of nature. The design
principle that addressed the intended treatment of nature spoke of preserving
the wild opportunistic landscape by enhancing existing plant species. As a
result, the analogous qualities that can be found in the translation amount to the
intermingling of species without any formal delineation of plant type. The
landscape was enhanced with an additional 50 species from the 161 species
found in the wild landscape (which included invasive species) to the 210
species of native and non-native species. About 50% of these plants are native,
though the categorizing of native by FHL is native to North America; 30% of
these species are native to the Northeast, which includes ornamental cultivars
bred for enhanced aesthetic qualities such as plant size, flower color, temporal
bloom length and foliage enhancements.225
The removal of all of the ballast material (a.k.a. the planting medium for
the wild landscape) is also indicative of the value for care, but also of the desire
to create an idealized nature through human control. The site was completely
scraped and sanitized of all biotic and abiotic processes, stripped to its skeleton
prior to reconstruction as a green roof and design implementation.226 While
human safety was the stated reason for much of it (lead paint and the pollutants
deposited by the rail), this action inhibited any further re-emergence of the
messy, unplanned species that existed on the site in order to allow for the design
of desired emergence.
Another indicator of the value for the nurturing of nature is the ever-
present maintenance, park enforcement staff and the seven full time gardeners,
225 Johnny Linville, Telephone Interview with Patsy McEntee-Shaffer. Boulder, CO, October 22, 2011.
226 Joshua David, Robert Hammond, The High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky (New York: Farrar,
Straus and Giroux, 2011), 94.
66


all indicative of a high level of care, support and protection for the park. During
the growing season, over 200 volunteers contribute their time to care for the
park.227 Despite the naturalized landscape design, the sense for orderliness and
care of the space is needed for nature appreciation and acceptance. According
to Susan Herrington, signs of care by humans are necessary, even high levels
of care, including high design which indicates an evolution of habitat, and a
sign of desirability and trendiness in a neighborhood.228 NYC also provides
eleven parks enforcement patrol officers for 2.8 acres. In contrast, the Bronx
gets five officers to patrol all 6,970 acres of Bronx parkland.229
Field Operations developed Agri-tecture as a metaphorical design
concept for the High Line that implied a cultivated and delineated wilderness.
This concept incorporated the use of a special concrete planking system that
intended to create the impression of emergent conditions through its staggered
engagement with the planting beds. According to the design proposal, this
system could accommodate a variety of human and non-human ecological
conditions, various human programmatic activities as well as a range of
habitats.230 People are the active participant in this concept though the range of
habitats does not allow for such emergent conditions given each ecotypes
seclusion (both physically and through maintenance practice) preventing their
interaction. This implied a tended wilderness and a careful orchestration of
conditions. The concrete and grass interface was a hard versus soft
representation of human versus delicate wild nature. As a result, the idea of the
intermingling of these habitats is a provocative one and may have been the intent
of the concept, but in the end the high cost of building and maintaining the park
has placed a greater value on preventing any potential damage incurred to the
landscape and the plant life.
There also exists a need to manipulate and enhance nature through the
active wildlife species control occurring on the site through the use of rat boxes
and pigeon proofing of the structure. But its not just the control of pesky NYC
wildlife that is at work here. Prominent signs litter the landscape, instructing
people on how to use the park: Protect the plants, stay on the path. In addition,
roped barriers were added shortly after the Section 1 opening, separating people
and their paths from the planting beds and reinforcing a physical separation
between people and non-human nature; We dont want people to damage the
plants, affirmed FHL founder Robert Hammond and Lisa Switkin, lead designer
from Field Operations.231 Such actions perpetuate ideals representing nature as
fragile and in need of human care for survival, but also the commodification of
nature because of the large price tag attached to the building and maintaining of
the park.
227 Johnny Linville, Telephone Interview with Patsy McEntee-Shaffer. Boulder, CO, October 22, 2011.
228 Susan Herrington, "Framed Again: The Picturesque Aesthetics of Contemporary Landscapes," Landscape Journal 25
(March 2006): 26-29.
229 Rich Calder, "Sky High Costs" New York Post, 10 August 2009, http://www.nypost.com
/p/news/regional/ sky_high_costs_ jWqyNI68fwWJ3YVGVNIOhL (accessed October 12, 2011).
230 Patrick Hazari, Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Designing the High Line: Gansevoort Street to 30th Street,
Friends of the High Line, (USA: Finlay Printing, LLC. 2008).
231 YouTube Website, "Lisa Switkin and Robert Hammond Interview," 27 September 2010.
http://www.voutube.com/watch?v=lzxXxvoYmJo (accessed 10/18/2011).
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Wild nature on the High Line had such a dire need for human
intervention that the FHL founders received the Rockefeller Foundation Jane
Jacobs Medal as well as the New York Post Liberty Medal for their heroic efforts
to save the structure.232 Other efforts also signified the need to savor and record
this lost wilderness; the original plants and seeds were catalogued and seed
banked in the Staten Island Greenbelt field collection project, to be used for
seed revegetation projects in NY.
Another example of the regulated interaction of people with nature was the
allotment of turf space in Section 2 at Community Board 4s request. This was
done so that there was a place where people can interact with green space.
People do want to get into the planting beds, but they strictly self police each
other.233 The role of habitat art in the park has a similar role with the perceived
need for people to create habitat for birds and to control non-human nature.
Through the construction of artistic structures visitors needs for aesthetics
supersede the functional construction of the birds handiwork. FHL has also
indicated that they are keeping invasive plants off the High Line. As an
organization, it goes against our principle of helping to restore the native ecology
of the area. Through this practice FHL is applying selective species control while
also denying the role of weeds in an ecosystem. As stated by Nassauer, the
presence of weeds also culturally indicates the neglect of a landscape.234
Anne Spirn speaks of the politics of naturalistic design. While the early
twentieth century saw the naturalistic garden design as an expression of
regionalism in American art, literature and politics, late twentieth century
environmentalism placed value on plants, animals and ecosystems based on
their value to humans and to each other.235 This naturalizing power is a
foundation for the neoliberal commodification of nature that is exemplified
through the development of the High Line as a park.
Likewise, while visitors to the High Line are admiring the naturalistic
planting design, gardeners behind the scenes are consulting and monitoring
every bed precisely. The gardeners meet every morning before work and discuss
the maintenance work that will be executed that day. Each gardener works in
their own planting zone; gardeners are responsible for their zone only and do not
overlap. As a result, the meetings are a way for all of the gardeners to coordinate
the treatment of the beds so that one bed is not maintained more rigorously than
another. The garden beds are also being heavily recorded and documented from
year to year. Best Management Practices are being developed but it is still too
early to have something concrete because there have only been three seasons
of data and extreme climate conditions have prevented reliable baselining of
conditions. Patterns of maintenance needs and success are being studied in
order to ensure planting beds that wont exhibit distress, large numbers of plant
failures and which maintain a healthy looking nature.236
232 High Line, "New York Post Honors High Line Co Founders," Friends of the High Line, 12 October 2010,
http://www.thehighline.org/news/2010/10/12/new-york- post-honors-high-line-co-founders (accessed November 5,
2011).
233 Johnny Linville, Telephone Interview with Patsy McEntee-Shaffer. Boulder, CO, December 14, 2011.
234 Joan Nassauer, "Messy Ecosystems, Orderly Frames," Landscape Journal 14 (1995): 161-170.
235 Anne Whiston Spirn, "The Authority of Nature: Conflict, Confusion, and Renewal in Design, Planning and Ecology," In:
Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning, (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991), 40.
236 Johnny Linville, Telephone Interview with Patsy McEntee-Shaffer. Boulder, CO, December 14, 2011.
68


High Line horticultural foreman Johnny Linville described their relatively
unconventional maintenance practices: gardeners do not prune plants to
perform in specific ways. This includes refraining from deadheading or pruning
for aesthetics or increased blooming. Plants are allowed to self-seed and migrate
by rhizomes and runners, though this is selectively controlled and Piet Oudolfs
planting design is consulted for reference in order to maintain the proportions
appropriated in the design concept. Selective control of aggressive species is
done during the growing season. Tree branch pruning is done for health; for
example, broken or crossed branches and broken leaders are addressed. Warm
season and cool season grasses are cut back at respectively appropriate times
and herbaceous material is pruned out at mid-spring.237 In Planting Design:
Gardens in Time and Space Oudolf and co-author Noel Kingsbury define a series
of principles for their approach to naturalistic, ecological plant design: 1) use of
plants with wild character 2) nature-inspired planting patterns 3) pragmatic
synthesis of native and non-native plants 4) biodiversity 5) ecological fit to the
site and 6) the use of dynamic, perennial plantings. Along the High Line such
qualities are expressed through the representation of simulated ecotones based
on designer-selected aesthetics; the ecotone as it exists in nature does not meet
the aesthetic standards of cultural expectations in an urban setting. Its simulation
is a representation of ecological principles that are guided by idealized qualities.
The Bloom Chart for the selected plant palette is included in Appendix C
and illustrates the design accentuation of plant beds with year-round seasonal
interest. Even more striking is the emphasis on the development of a planting
palette which offers the experience of a blooming landscape from January until
December. In creating such a garden is to represent a landscape that
demonstrates the human ideal for the aesthetic qualities of flowering and fruiting
plants. These qualities visually indicate productivity, growth, and the production
of new life while also exhibiting sensorial information which provides a
pleasurable reaction for humans.
237 Johnny Linville, Telephone Interview with Patsy McEntee-Shaffer. Boulder, CO, December 14, 2011.
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While the planting beds have been loosely construed from ecological
models for naturalistic plant systems, the actual production of them is a construct
of human hands and imagination. Layers of creative human thought, from Oudolf
to Field Operations to the FHL gardeners to the publics reception and
experience shapes the understanding of the simulated wilderness. Oudolf
designed the planting plan for the High Line as proportional blobs of massed
plantings.238 These drawings were then given to Field Operations where
landscape architects and designers determined plant numbers based on the size
of the blobs and the average plant diameter for each species. This information
was given to the gardeners and landscape construction professionals who built
the design. As the horticultural information was analyzed and evaluated by the
gardeners who were installing the plants, some alterations were made to the
numbers of plants based on their knowledge of how aggressive the species
were.239 The gardeners referenced and continue to reference Oudolfs original
concept in maintaining the design intent and proportions of the plants. However,
each bed is maintained separately by a different gardener and despite daily
meetings as a staff with the FHL horticultural foreman in order to maintain
consistency of treatment,240 it is important to recognize that such a maintenance
strategy produces unique treatments of beds based on the individual emotions
and thought by each gardener. The result is a design that has been digested and
re-translated several times before its reception as nature by the visitor.
III. Evoking a Sense of the Sublime
Representations of the sublime are meant to cultivate a sensibility of awe
towards the landscape, producing a romanticized and idealized nature. The High
Line offers such experiences and conditions in its small intensely planted
landscape. Oudolfs planting design philosophy, associated with the European
New Wave movement, emphasizes ornamental change over time. James Corner
noted in a 2008 New York Times article that one reason he asked Oudolf to do
the projects planting design was because of the way Oudolf selected and
composed plants: his design is thought through not only in terms of summer, but
also in terms of winter all twelve months are interesting.241 The experience of
the High Lines planting beds highlights the interest of the plantings across the
seasons: the growth and bloom of spring the height of the growing season in
summer, the changing colors of foliage in fall and the winter sculptural qualities of
dormant foliage left until spring green-up.242 Oudolf also looks for plants that have
elegance in their decay.243 Frail plant choices juxtaposed with railway materials
emphasize the contrasts in early spring between a metaphorical frail nature and
the visually dominant artifacts of the human species; humanity contrasted with
38 Piet Oudolf, Noel Kingsbury, Landscapes in Landscapes (New York : Monacelli Press, 2010), 25.
239 Johnny Linville, Telephone Interview with Patsy McEntee-Shaffer. Boulder, CO, October 22, 2011.
240 . ,
Idem.
241 Sally McGrane, "A Landscape in Winter, Dying Heroically," The New York Times, 31 January 2008.
http://www.nvtimes.com/20Q8/01/31/garden/31piet.html? pagewanted=print (accessed December 10, 2011).
242 High Line, "Planting Design," Friends of the High Line, http://www.thehigh line.org /design /planting (accessed January
12, 2012).
243 Sally McGrane, "A Landscape in Winter, Dying Heroically," The New York Times, 31 January 2008.
http://www.nvtimes.com/20Q8/01/31/garden/31piet.html? pagewanted=print (accessed December 10, 2011).
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non-human nature presents a romantic, delicate aesthetic with the rugged, heavy
steel constructs of humans.
The sublime is further engaged through Oudolfs year-round blooming
landscape and the cultural perspective that wild nature needs to be enhanced
to be appreciated. The scene changes almost weekly as plants bud, bloom and
seed on different schedules.244 It is the constant display of phenomenological
experience that produces the sense of awe. There is no lull of visual aesthetics in
the nature that is being presented here. The sublime is derived from the
immediate sensory data that is constantly displayed before the visitor, despite the
fact that the visitor is not immersed in the experience of it but separated by the
zones by which they are allowed to engage.
IV. Representation of the Pastoral
In the 18th century the Picturesque genre of landscape was composed of
soft rolling terrain, with views framed by clusters of trees with an occasional folly
sparking the memory of past and often mythical places. These landscapes were
the estates of the wealthy and many were made public to the lower classes
under the guise of providing a civic duty to those not born privileged to
experience nature in such a way. Susan Herrington speaks of the Picturesque as
an ideology which attempts to naturalize the power and wealth of their
owners.245 This was done through the masking of human authorship through
the use of formal conventions.246 The naturalizing of the landscape implied two
things: one, that power was actually being obscured by the appearance of
neglect and two, that the association with a naturalistic landscape inferred that
wealth was part of the natural order.247 Today the landscape of the High Line
exemplifies many of the same qualities: The soft rolling terrain has been replaced
with orchestrated naturalistic plantings of grasses, perennials and small
shrubby trees. The meandering paths and densely planted perimeters which
guided the curious visitor through the variations of landscape has been replaced
with indirect walkways constructed of concrete paving system which evokes an
artificial integration between the human and non-human worlds. The clusters of
trees which periodically framed views and aestheticized the working landscape
and vision of country life in the historic Picturesque landscapes have now
become the new architectural language that has developed around the garden.
The urban architectural landscape is now the urban pastoral. While I have
described the transformation of the rural pastoral of the Picturesque into the
urban pastoral, a similar transformation has occurred within the urban realm.
The urban landscape has been a landscape of primarily rigid geometric forms,
undulating along the organization of a street system and varying in scale, texture,
color, weight and form. Because the spectator is often viewing from street level,
the view of the architecture as landscape tends to be limited by what can be
244 Alex Ulam, et al., "Back On Track: Bold Design Moves Transform A Defunct Railroad Into a 21st-Century Park,"
Landscape Architecture 99 (2009): 92.
245 Susan Herrington, "Framed Again: The Picturesque Aesthetics of Contemporary Landscapes," Landscape Journal 25
(March 2006): 27.
246 Ibid, 28.
247 Ibid, 24.
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experienced at human scale; the density of structures prohibits a grander view
than what can be seen from looking directly up. It is only when the spectator is
viewing from a level above the street grade that a greater expanse of space may
be afforded and the architectural landscape can be received. But what is being
viewed in the forground, midground and background remains as buildings and
infrastructure and the perspective of their relationships with other elements is
determined by the numerous locations from where they are viewed.
Figure 7.5 The Urban Pastoral Landscape
P. McEntee
At the High Line, it is the specific views of the landscape from 30 feet above
grade and from a very limited perspective within the 30ft corridor that has
dictated a style of the urban pastoral. In its neocapitalist ability to shape
redevelopment adjacent to the space, the High Line as a park became
operational in framing views of the latest feats of architectural design such as the
Standard Hotel, the High Line Building and the IAC Building. A landscape of
glass and steel has become the contemporary horizon beckoning instead of the
rolling hills and clusters of tree canopies. Architecture became the reveal with the
viewer as the subject, except that the path and views existed before the urban
pastoral landscape. In effect, the landscape was built around the garden path. It
is no wonder then that the views of the space as well as the plants have become
a manipulated and iconic photographic subject for visitors.
V. Manipulation of Spectator Views
The landscape of the High Line is a careful arrangement of space for the
manipulation of visitor viewsheds, enabling the treatment of nature as a
spectacle, the designation of space for specific social productions, and the
aforementioned urban pastoral. In terms of entertainment value, nature at the
High Line is a scene for the social intentions of the site and as a source of
ornamental backdrop or accessory to the scene. Movement, views and
interactions are strictly dictated by the circulation paths within the primarily 30-0
width of the structure and by the configuration of the planting beds that typically
line much of the perimeter of the corridor, maintaining insular pedestrian
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pathways. The visitors experience is then isolated and disengaged from the
street activity with views to those within the corridor and what is immediately on
the horizon or far in the distance. The infrequent access points from street level
reinforce this separation and promote the floating park in the sky metaphor. The
space functions as promenade, not focused on an active engagement with the
landscape; it promotes slower movement and the passive viewing of people
interacting, perspectives, architecture, plants. The experience emphasizes the
opportunity of being seen and being out in society; the historic function of a
promenade. The High Line also affords privileged views of NYC through the
visual construction of the urban pastoral.
In the Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord analyzes contemporary
consumer culture and commodity fetishism by looking at the manner in which
social relationships become expressed in terms of producers and consumers.248
He contends that All that was once directly lived has become mere
representation, referring to the central importance of the image in contemporary
society to construct a desired reality in favor of a lived reality. Images, Debord
says, have supplanted genuine human interaction.249 The evolution of social life
can then be understood as "the decline of being into having, and having into
merely appearing."250 The spectacle uses the image to convey what people need
and must have. Consequently, social life is further reduced to a state of
"appearing", through the production of the image.251 The spectacle refers to the
system that is a combination of capitalism, the mass media, and the hegemonial
sects who favor such results.
The High Lines role in supporting this theory is evident in several ways.
The idea of nature as theatre and the demise of being into having are reinforced
by the things that have been produced as items that continue the experience of
the park into daily life. This commodification objectifies nature further by making it
a driver for economic benefits, but also as a source for the social experience.
The High Line gift shop provides for its visitors an assortment of commemorative
memorabilia that proves you were there. Naming conventions of local buildings
use the High Line in order to geographically associate it with the park. The new
High Line perfume, Bond No.9, pledged the parks botanical diversity in each
bottle (though its scent was reported to be questionable). Each of these
examples substantiates the High Lines ability to sell nature and replace the
experienced qualities of the garden with things that represent them. Other
methods of commodification included the sponsorship of designed spaces where
signs are exhibited at the Chelsea Grasslands announcing sponsored by Tiffany
and Co. Donated money to fund the park benefits the donor with public
acknowledgement and praise. In each of these examples there is a method of
association that translates Debords supposition with the primary motivation
being the idea of the mythical wilderness. The idea of the former High Line as an
experience of wild nature was sold through the imagery of Joel Sternfeld, initially
248
249
250
251
Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle, Thesis 1, (New York : Zone Books, 1994).
Idem.
Idem.
Idem.
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creating the desire for an experience unattainable through the park but a source
of emotion that could be replaced instead by the image. The High Lines current
state as a place to see people and be seen is emphasized by design elements
such as the 10th Ave. Square where visitors have views aligned with 10th Ave in
an amphitheater-style setting while being viewed by people from the street in
return. The Standard Hotel also provides opportunities for 2-way voyeuristic
activities between those walking the High Line and those looking to flaunt their
sexual behavior behind the floor to ceiling windows rooms. But beyond the
expectations of experience produced by images that have replaced the
experience itself, it is the numerous staged pastoral views that limit the visitor
from developing their own thoughts and interactions within the space.
The High Line-influenced rezoning of the Community 4 District of Chelsea
also altered the kinds of new architecture and development projects that could be
developed adjacent to the space.252 Controls were put into place to allow for
sunlight, air movement and views to be encouraged along the park and
prohibited the development of architecture over the High Line.253 Such projects
further dictated the production of the landscape flanking the park with particular
views of high design architectural works. Investors saw the park development as
an opportunity for real estate speculation and a vantage point for viewing such
architectural feats, further commodifying the idea of nature and using it as
spectacle. In the same vein, the Economic and Fiscal Impact Analysis completed
by John H. Alschuler and HR&A Advisors was necessary in order to justify the
park development.254 The reinforcement of such ideals which make nature a
source of wealth, a source of leisure, a source of theatre and as Smithson
referred, a thing for us, externalizes it further by repurposing it outside of the
human role in nature; in this way, cultural values limit natures role to the function
of meeting specific social needs of humans and nothing more.
VI. Use of Metaphor and Literary Conventions
The use of metaphor, follies and relics is pervasive in the High Lines
redesign. This is done through the Agri-tecture design concept and the
simulated wilderness of the planting design (both discussed earlier), the
restoration of the industrial structure including the rails, and efforts to reinforce
the experience of being in a mythical park in the sky. The High Lines design
principles were also heavily focused on retaining the character of the
structure255 of the elevated rail. This goal is somewhat ambiguous because
restoring the physical structure itself does not necessarily retain the structures
character. This goal strove to preserve and remember the space in its role as a
railway and part of the Art-deco architectural history. It also sought to preserve
and reveal the structure providing opportunities to inhabit and appreciate
252 Joshua David, Robert Hammond, The High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky (New York: Farrar,
Straus and Giroux, 2011), 64.
253 Community Board 2, which includes the stretch of the High Line south of 14th Street, voted against the rezoning. As a
result, the Standard Hotel was allowed to be built overthe park, creating some of the worst microclimates and rain
sheeting in the park.
254 HR and A Advisors, "The High Line," http://www.hraadvisors.com /featured /the-high-line/ (accessed 3.26.12).
255 Patrick Hazari, Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Designing the High Line: Gansevoort Street to 30th Street,
Friends of the High Line, (USA: Finlay Printing, LLC. 2008).
74


details.256 Another aspect was to preserve the industrial presence of the High
Line at the street level, including the maintenance of business type consistency
and the preservation of its gritty urban character.
The High Lines park design relied on both the re-use of the corridor and
the infrastructural framework of the elevated rail. Both the re-use of the rails and
of the steel structure supports the Picturesque tenet of using artifacts that would
be deemed unsightly without aesthetics. In the case of the structure, the entire
viaduct of rusting steel and degraded concrete was stripped of its unsafe lead
paint, resealed and painted. Restoration of the historic Art Deco steel railings
was completed at every street crossing. Stripping, painting and restoration work
was the costliest piece of the entire park construction project.257 During site
demolition, all of the rails were mapped and catalogued for placement back into
the design. But their presence in the design takes the role of folly, a theatrical
device in landscape used to evoke past cultures.258 The rails appear and
disappear into the planting beds while submerged into the concrete walking
planks in other areas. During the growing season, they are easily hidden by the
density of plantings, a fact that both FHL founder Robert Hammond and Johnny
Linville state disappointment with. While it is a temporal reveal, the staff of seven
full time FHL gardeners consults with each other through the growing season on
strategies to develop a consistent approach to revealing the tracks while
maintaining the beds.259 In addition, the fact that the structure itself was only
restored in places where it was most visible, at the street crossings, also implies
an emphasis on the visual qualities of its existence and its ability to mark the
landscape with its aesthetic presence. In this way, both the tracks and viaduct
function as an ornamental side note to the High Line park, supporting tenets of
the Picturesque.
VII. Editing the Narrative from Derelict to Picturesque Public Space: Historical
Signifying Practices
The following images, found on the FHL website under Public Programs
illustrate the evolution of attitudes about nature surrounding the space as
depicted through signifying practices over time.260 The first two images are of
Open House New York (OHNY) 2004, which continued to access views of the
High Line for the years 2005-2007 and began in 2002. OHNY (which is a
program that takes place in other cities around the world) provides a weekend of
access to architectural sites that are otherwise off-limits to the general public.
Such an event encourages the idea for people to engage with transgressive
space, to materialize the myth, that which is off-limits and exists primarily in the
imagination until it is realized in space and experience. The years of 2004 and
256 Patrick Hazari, Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Designing the High Line: Gansevoort Street to 30th Street,
Friends of the Fligh Line, (USA: Finlay Printing, LLC. 2008).
257 Joshua David, Robert Flammond, The High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky (New York: Farrar,
Straus and Giroux, 2011), 94.
258 Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History (New
York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001),514
259 Johnny Linville, Telephone Interview with Patsy McEntee-Shaffer. Boulder, CO, December 14, 2011.
260 High Line, "Open House New York," Friends of the High Line, http://www.thehighline .org /galleries /images/public-
programs?page=l (accessed March 20, 2012).
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2005 were years that CTX still held ownership, inhibiting people from actually
being on the High Line. Despite this, people waited for hours and lined up around
the block just to get a viewing of this hidden wilderness from an adjacent
warehouse. But the fascination to experience nature as a transgressive space
has continued every year since, despite the opening of the first section of park.
The images are peculiar: people looking over the edge of a rail at the High Line,
looking to realize imaginings about a space that may have had little meaning to
them at one point when it existed as a human network, human domain. By
eliminating people and representing it in a mythical and fragile state, existing in
the same harsh environment as these viewers, the authors of this text drive this
reaction. In essence, the images are reminiscent of the zoo animal looking out at
the wild or looking in at itself. The next event is scheduled for October 2012,261
an indication that the park itself does not replicate the fantasy of wilderness that
has been represented by Sternfelds original images or that which has been
symbolized through the language of those who speak and write about it.
The continued attraction of the OH NY event is an interesting one in the
context of what can be discerned from the historical images. The next four
images are of actions taken during the process of prepping the High Line for
redevelopment. But here lies the true narrative: once the space is owned by the
City of New York, actions are taken to rewrite the text and maintain the myth.
This is done firstly by the 2005 clean-up. All traces of the people that inhabited
the site are removed, food wrappers and toys, garden pots and furniture, beer
cans, needles and paraphernalia. The next OH NY that actually allows the
general public on the High Line doesnt occur until 2006, well after the clean-up.
In fall of 2006 seed from native plants are collected from the corridor by botanists
from the Department of Parks Greenbelt Natural Plant Center where they were
stored for revegetation projects (none were re-used in the plantings for the park).
In 2007 as the space undergoes early stages of demolition, the tracks are
marked and catalogued for re-installation. Much of the remaining steel debris is
disposed of except for the rail spikes, which are collected. Then, a year before
the High Line section 1 opens as a park, sketching classes are held in the still
wild section 2 area of the corridor, providing opportunities for artists to represent
the space with their own lens, without impressions of any human existence within
the space.
261 High Line, "Open House New York," Friends of the High Line, http://www.thehiqhline .orq /galleries /imaqes/public-
proqrams?paqe=1 (accessed March 20,2012).
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Figures 7.6-7.12 Signifying Practices in the Development of the High Line
2005 Clean-up 2006 Native seed collection
2007 Rail spike collection
2008 Sketching class
In looking at this progression of photographs, sub-narratives can be extracted.
Those who benefitted from keeping the High Line an unpolluted wild nature is
one source of authorship of the space. Acts were made to remove the tainted
signs of humans from the fictional narrative of the High Line wilderness. This
occurs in multiple ways including the removal of physical signs of their existence,
the active forgetting of the types of behaviors that occurred there and by
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speaking of it as a place as pristine, and untouched.262 Also, in the Friends of
the High Line website image gallery there is not a single image of the wild High
Line with obvious signs of human behavior; images that show graffiti downplay
its prominence in the space. The only image that makes human activity a subject
is Joel Sternfelds image of a tiny Christmas tree with lights, an act of then local
resident Ken Robson. Robert Hammond described the space as being covered
with graffiti263 and Adam Gopnik in Walking the High Line characterizes the
creative network of cables and a television dish that had been established in one
area.264 But the erasure of the presence of humans during the High Lines
period of abandonment is also the erasure of a history of social upheaval in lower
Manhattan. It is also the editing out of humans in order to idealize a wild
aesthetic that exists regardless of the presence of people. Much like the Native
Americans being edited out of the Frontier narrative, the deliberate editing of the
High Lines human past is one more strategy that maintains the Picturesque ideal
of nature as separate from the human realm.
The development, design and maintenance of the High Line exemplifies
the polarity between the cultural ideal of the static and orderly garden and the
messy and wild processes of both human and non-human nature. Key highlights
of the High Lines development expose cultural tendencies towards values and
ideals about nature. Such elements feed a reception of nature that propagates
and reinforces such ideals through the reinforcement of the hegemonial guard;
for all of the momentum that around the preservation of public space for social
and community good, park development is driven by those who can gain
financially, those with the money, political power and affiliations with those who
have both.
262 YouTube Website, "New York Voices: Joel Sternfeld," 4 March 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch2v =INzr7g8FQgk
(accessed December 12, 2011).
263 Joshua David, Robert Hammond, The High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky (New York: Farrar,
Straus and Giroux, 2011), 12.
264 Joel Sternfeld, Walking the High Line (Steidl: Gottingen, 2001),48.
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CHAPTER 8
DECONSTRUCTION (CONCLUSION)
Nature is a mirror of and for culture. Ideas of nature reveal as
much or more about human society as they do about non-human
processes and features.265
-Anne Whiston Spirn, from The Authority of Nature
Since the inception of garden history we have studied the dynamic
relationship between humans and nature, its agency and representation. From
the expansive and threatening wilderness beyond the protective walls of the
medieval castle to expressions of the sublime and pastoral in the picturesque
landscapes of England and France, the garden has been at the center of the
cultural exploration of our changing relationship with wild nature. Such
landscapes have been carefully manipulated to negotiate a particular human
reception of nature, the former to alleviate fear, the latter to propagate ideas of
the supernatural and mythical. Likewise, the High Line is an example of how
cultural ideals of nature are constructed through acts of representation. The High
Line is the taming of the urban wild, a wild unkempt nature beautified and
memorialized through Joel Sternfelds imagery, then set in scene as both a
spectacle of aesthetics, a nature on steroids, and as ornament to the fantastical
architectural landscape that has resulted from the High Lines development.
The High line alters the city park paradigm by engaging the visitor in a
densely urban experience of an elevated post-industrial re-use space while
utilizing a naturalistic planting aesthetic. By attempting to replicate a wild
nature, it alters the idea of nature that visitors have in their own imaginations.
Such an attempt to simulate wilderness feeds a new virtual reality of the garden;
it fuels the mind to both remember past and anticipate future imaginings and
challenge the present understandings and expectations of nature. Because it is
not true wildness, but a maintained and idealized one, it bounds and limits the
alternatives and expressions of both human and non-human nature itself.
The High Line tells us much about the continued prominence of
Picturesque conventions in the contemporary reception and production of nature.
As both a collective and individualized reading, this reception is a blend of
historical and ecological texts, signified cultural values, and the visitors unique
experience and responses to phenomenological stimuli. The High Line can be
received as a palimpsest: its post-industrial past, its development as a wilderness
of both human and non-human processes, its current design and experience as
presented through signification and representation. While the processes of non-
human naturetook hold once the rail traffic and associated maintenance regimes
subsided, the events that occurred over time to influence the High Lines
265 Anne Whiston Spirn, "The Authority of Nature: Conflict, Confusion, and Renewal in Design, Planning and Ecology," In:
Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning, (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991), 32.
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preservation were in fact re-translated in a way to substantiate particular cultural
values. Through this study we can recognize that there exist multiple texts and
subtexts and that the use of the Picturesque is a strategy of authorship. Its
application in aestheticizing the wild is also a means of conducting exclusionary
practices within the space. The visitor is reduced to a rigid and predominantly
visual experience of specific views where they are not only a passive spectator of
the landscape but a subject on display, unable to engage with the plant life
around them. Without understanding the full narrative of the High Line with its
explicit and implicit components, the viewer understands less about the human
intent and the complexity of interpretation between the text and what is viewed.
We can receive the High Line in the way that it is being presented to us, as a
romantic wilderness re-translated for the benefit of design and economy. But we
can also be receptive to the text that has been deliberately hidden from the new
narrative, the text of a space that underwent social upheaval. In order to recreate
the High Line in its current aesthetic, it was necessary for those who desired a
new park to remove the people and unsettling social aspects from the
landscapes history in order to perpetuate the continued myth of wilderness. This
myth is one that is ingrained in the cultural imagination, the one where we are
alone in the wild. By scraping, rebuilding and recreating it as a park, the sites
narrative was erased and re-written in the process, allowing for the Friends of the
High Line to swoop in and save nature.
The representation of nature as an image, one that is idealized,
replicated, iconified and symbolized also has implications. To represent and
conceptualize nature in a way that its agency can never be realized and to
extract people from its history is to further distance humans from ecological
processes of which they are a part. The complexity of cultural values that are
laden on a site such as the High Line muddies the waters of distinguishing such
processes at work. While the High Lines design has accentuated particular
horticultural qualities such as plant blooming, subtleties of foliage color and plant
form, as well as the simulation of ecotones, these qualities have been
represented in a way that reduces processes to a set of visually aesthetic
qualities without revealing their agency.266 By accentuating the performance of
aesthetics as an ideal over the aesthetics of performance, the gritty beauty of the
High Lines unmaintained and understated wilderness lost representation to the
glitz and glamour of a tourist-oriented economy.
Despite its heavy orchestration, the High Line provides an incremental
step in communicating and highlighting natures phenomena. It showcases a
nature that is aesthetically reactive to seasons, light, microclimates and other
non-human forces. This is unique to heavily urban areas where all of nature is
controlled by the human hand. High Line horticulturalist Johnny Linville posits
that city dwellers perceive that plants dont operate independently of people and
that people dont think that things happen to plants, but that we do things to
plants: This is the time of year we plant tulips, now is the time we fertilize, and
now is when we clean up leaves. He observes that it has been peoples
experience of more rural and expansive landscapes outside the city where the
266 Elizabeth Meyer, "Sustaining Beauty: The Performance of Appearance," Landscape Architecture 98 no. 10 (2008): 92-
131.
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subtleties of wildness have been appreciated but that the High Line reveals the
hues and textures of native plantings that have not been previously observed. He
also noted that while the High Line has a wide range of color variation within the
shade of brown, he perceives color monotony within pastoral landscapes
because of the lack of such variance.267 But while Linville views the aesthetics of
the High Line as a vehicle for the proliferation of more native plant use in garden
design, the ecological benefits of using such plants remain a side note. The
performance of such species choices and benefits of enabling successional
processes are less apparent to those without the technical knowledge. Nassauer
posits, Ecological function must be actively represented for human experience if
humans are to maintain ecological quality.268 Instead, while the gardeners
actively negotiate the care of planting beds with migrating species, they are
continuing to orchestrate a designed ecotype conceived of by the human mind
and not by non-human processes. The High Line disguises the Picturesque with
the smoke and mirrors of a naturalized landscape, making it more difficult for
people to understand what ecological quality looks like.
There are other consequences related to the development of the High
Line as a stylish and highly touristed new park in terms of community
development and environmental justice. As noted by Witold Rybczynski, there
are implications with using the High Line as a typology for urban renewal and the
ability of public-private partnerships to fund new parks:
Advocates would like to see the High Line model take off
nationwide in the same way Central Park was copied in the 19th
century. The use of landscapes to influence urban development
dates back 150 years, to when Frederick Law Olmsted and
Calvert Vaux laid out Central Park. While the High Lines success
may seem to be an instance of build it and they will come, in
New York, as in Paris, they are already there...In no other
American city do residents rely so much on communal green
space...there are very few cities, particularly in the current
economic climate that could match such fund-raising abilities.269
Given the dynamics of the High Lines history, its agency as a park
landscape and the shaping of the surrounding neighborhoods in response to it, it
is important to reflect on who is benefitting from the development of such a
space. While the initial drivers for park development were twofold; the need for
more green space in that area of Manhattan and the financial feasibility of the
project in stimulating additional projects which would generate tax revenue, the
latter appears to be the one that has gained the most attention and certainly
drove the greatest momentum for the preservation effort.
According to Cassi Feldman, writer for the civic issues magazine City
Limits, in urban renewal projects intentional links must be made to communities
267 Johnny Linville, Telephone Interview with Patsy McEntee-Shaffer. Boulder, CO, December 14, 2011.
268 Joan Nassauer, "Messy Ecosystems, Orderly Frames," Landscape Journal 14 (1995): 163.
269 Witold Rybczynski, "Bringing the High Line Back to Earth,"New York Times, May 14, 2011.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/opinion/15Rybczynski.html (accessed 10.10.11).
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in order to prevent projects from excluding communities entirely.270 She notes
that when the creation of parks equal development dollars, access to nature
becomes a gentrifying element. She refers to private-public partnerships as
situations where there often arises a pay to play situation for park services; low-
income neighborhoods recognize that by advocating for green space for
themselves they begin to price themselves out of their own neighborhoods.271
Another concern is the ability of the Friends of the High Line to maintain a donor
base large enough to sustain the $642,000/acre annual operating costs. At
$9,555/acre, the annual maintenance costs of the average NYC park calls
attention to concerns about the geographic equity of neighborhood-based park
projects as well as the long-term sustainability of financing such an expensive
and cost-intensive design.272
Anne Whiston Spirn writes in The Authority of Nature, Language has
consequences. It structures how one thinks and what kinds of things one is able
to express.273 The language and representation surrounding the High Line has
severe consequences. As a product of cultural influences, the language of this
landscape puts forth ideas and values that are sustained and reinforced by the
social collective. How and where contemporary public parks are sited rests
largely on the anticipated economic gain combined with the feasibility of their
development. Brownfield and post-industrial sites have become places of
opportunity for new parks. If the modern environmental movement has
perpetuated a romanticized wilderness as Eden274, as William Cronon asserts,
then the idea of transforming an obsolete, polluted and largely abused landscape
into a symbolic Paradise has a psychological cost. Such representation ignores
the agency of landscape to act within its own means to build, repair, heal and
express. It assumes the role of humans as the more constructive actors on the
transformation of a site. The irony of this assumption being that the photographic
imagery produced to market the High Lines preservation captured the agency of
the landscape and its emergent qualities. Actions to develop it into the ecotypical
(botanic) garden that it is today have created a product that has replaced the
melancholy intimacy and immersion of the sublime abandoned wilderness with
the urban pastoral. The transformed nature that the redesigned High Line
represents is a manipulation of the visitor spoken of by Susan Herrington. The re-
construction of a wild nature and in fact the entire urban pastoral landscape is a
testament to the naturalization of power relationships,275because it constructs
the visitor into a particular relationship with a fake nature, and with the physical
representation in the landscape of those powerful enough to author it. As a
result, there becomes a general association and acceptance of new park-building
270Cassi Feldman, "Friends In Fligh Places: In The Shadow Of The Fligh Line, Other Open-Space Efforts Wither." City Limits
29, no. 1: 8-9, 2004, http://search.proquest.com /docview/ 55332137 ?accountid=14506 (accessed February 10, 2012).
271 Ibid, 8.
272Rich Calder, "Sky High Costs" New York Post, 10 August 2009, http://www.nypost.com
/p/news/regional/skv high costs iWavNI68fwWJ3YVGVNIOhL (accessed October 12, 2011).
273 Spirn, Anne Whiston. 1991. "The Authority of Nature: Conflict, Confusion, and Renewal in Design, Planning and
Ecology." In: Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning. Island Press, Washington, D.C. 42.
274 Cronon, William, ed. 1996. The Trouble with Wilderness from Uncommon Ground. W.W. Norton and Company, New
York, 83.
275 Susan Herrington, "Framed Again: The Picturesque Aesthetics of Contemporary Landscapes," Landscape Journal 25
(March 2006): 26.
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paired with the re-facing of underserved neighborhoods and highly designed
affluent redevelopment projects.
As Garrett Eckbo advised in Landscape for Living, It is the role of
landscape design to bridge between the man-made and natural worlds as a
response to the built environment which currently fragments the integration of
these worlds.276 While adaptive re-use design speaks much of the same
language as green building, sustainable design and resource efficiency,
current strategies to simply retrofit obsolete spaces into parks and use them as
vehicles for urban renewal may not actually fit the human habitat needs for
relationships with nature. Peter Gisolfi speculates on the trend to fit park into
space, rather than planning space to park. He asks the question, Are the
spaces that create the best environments for both people and habitats...are they
really 30ft above street level?277
Andrew Blum also discusses the importance of using the tools and
knowledge of ecology, advocating for park building approaches that foster
connections and understandings of broader ecological processes, as well as the
development of strategies that benefit those processes.278 Like Nassauer, he is
also making a case for utilizing a semiotic system that communicates the values
for healthy ecological processes that has yet to be incorporated into
contemporary culture. Bridging between the sign systems of culture and the
language of wild landscapes is the present-day challenge of landscape
architecture. Nassauer suggests an approach for how to communicate values for
healthy ecosystems within cultural constructs:
Cues to human care, expressions of neatness and tended
nature, are inclusive symbols by which ecologically rich
landscapes can be presented and be entered into vernacular
culture. Working from culture is necessary to infiltrating acts of
landscape change at small scales and creating innovation in
landscape intervention.279
Such a strategy for synthesizing cultural values regarding parks with
recognition and values for healthy ecosystems is an opportunity for the
development of new signs and an alternative reception of nature. As Blum
observes, the promotion of deeper understandings of broader ecological systems
can reduce the environmental impact of cities and their inhabitants, create more
pleasant places to live, and promote parks that create more suitable habitat for
humans.280
276 Garrett Eckbo, Landscape for Living (New York: Architectural Record with Duell, Sloan, 1950), 10.
277 Peter Gisolfi, "Accidental Parks: Cities Are Creating Open Space from Urban Remnants," Landscape Architecture 97, no.
8: (2007):74-76.
278 Andrew Blum, "Metaphor Remediation: A New Ecology for the City/The High Line Competition," In Michael Van
Vatkenburgh Associates : Reconstructing Urban Landscapes, edited by Anita Berrizbeita (New Haven, Conn.; London :
Yale University Press, 2009): 259.
279 Nassauer, Joan I. "Messy Ecosystems, Orderly Frames". Landscape Journal, Vol. 14, No. 2. (1995), 163.
280 Blum, Andrew Chapter. Metaphor Remediation: A New Ecology forthe City/The High Line Competition, from Michael
Van Valkenburgh Associates : reconstructing urban landscapes / edited by Anita Berrizbeita ;New Haven, Conn. ;
London : Yale University Press, c2009., 258.
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Another implication of perpetuating Picturesque ideals is that objectifying
nature alters the human approach to environmental challenges. William Cronon
warns,
We seem unlikely to make much progress in solving these
problems if we hold up to ourselves as the mirror of nature a
wilderness we ourselves cannot inhabit.... Idealizing a wilderness
too often means not idealizing the environment in which we
actually live, the landscape, for better or for worse we call home.
We need an environmental ethic that will tell us as much about
using nature as much as about not using it.281
This ethic can not be developed without cultural signs and practices that
change the conversation we have with our landscapes; the objectification of
nature through representation has prevented the building of meaningful and
engaging relationships with hybrid habitats. The power of design to enable
subjective experience in the formation of evolutionary relationships with nature
remains unrealized in post-industrial urban settings.
Wildness has emergent potentials in every landscape- in wilderness,
cultivated ground, garden and hybridized landscape. It exists, a powerful force,
latent and with the greatest potentials amid the constructs of our rigidly organized
urban habits. Its influence to drive ruin and regeneration varies between the
sacred and the profane. The manner and degree to which nature is allowed to
express itself creatively, particularly in an urban setting, will determine the
reception of new interpretations. This ability to connect or alienate people from
nature lies with the power of design and the ideological representation of
landscape itself. Despite a century and a half of Picturesque representations of
nature in America, the urbane is not yet divorced from the Picturesque garden; it
continues alive and well in the twenty-first century park through the High Line. It
is necessary to recognize this and to develop a new language of landscape for
hybrid ecologies. The successional post-industrial landscape has become a
stage for the next phase of understanding wilderness. With spatial changes and
disuse in urban settings becoming a reveal for ecological processes, the
evolution of the garden is before us: the wild carving itself out of the urban. While
cultural perceptions of its unkempt qualities may harbor disgust, Elizabeth Meyer
notes that we can infer that new forms of beauty will be discovered as new
techniques and approaches for reclaiming, remaking, and reforming a sites
natural processes are invented.282 In this way, design has the power to negotiate
the cultural values that have been instilled and reinforced for so long and to
create new imaginings of our relationship with nature.
281 William Cronon, "The Trouble with Wilderness" in Uncommon Ground (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996),
83-84.
282 Elizabeth Meyer, "Sustaining Beauty: The Performance of Appearance," Landscape Architecture 98 no. 10 (2008): 117.
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APPENDIX A
Table A.1.1 Semiotic Analysis
PICTURESQUE VALUES ABOUT NATURE REPRESENTED IN THE DEVELOPMENT & DESIGN OF THE HIGH LINE
CONTEMPORARY TENETS OF THE PICTURESQUE
1. Literal picturesque" representation. The photograph is now the painting: Photographic representation of nature is the source of production for iconic relationships. Regulated/orchestrated views.
2. Values for care and control Representation of nature as fragile. Evocation of sentimentality for the "lost wilderness." Nature can't survive without the aid of humans Human authorship is purposely masked; nature's processes are controlled by humans. Preferential treatment of constructed ecosystem: Ecotype model preference & species selection. Need to show care, nurturing for nature. Orderliness of nature needed for nature appreciation/acceptance. Signs of care by humans is necessary, even high levels of care, including high design" indicates an "evolution of habitat"=trendiness, desirability of neighborhood.
3. Manipulation of spectator views. Nature as spectacle, theatre, entertainment. Commodification of nature. Social production of space.
4. Evokes a sense of the sublime. Representations cultivate a sensibility of awe towards the landscape, romanticized & idealized nature.
5. Representation of the pastoral The working landscape has to be aestheticized, an idealized vision of country life and the working landscape. The urban architectural landscape is now the urban pastoral.
6. Use of metaphor and literary conventions, follies and relics. The use of artifacts that would be deemed unsightly without aesthetics.
TABLE OF SEMIOTIC DEFINITIONS (SIGN = Signifier + Signified)
Signified The concept the form represents
Signifier Material or immaterial representationor signifying practice.
Index Nature of connection: causal or physical
Iconic Resembling or imitating, posessing similar qualities
Symbolic Signifier does not resemble the signified- learned relationship
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Signifier Description Signified Index Iconic Symbolic "Picturesque* representation Values for care Spectator view manipulation Evokes the sublime Pastoral qualities Literary conventions used
sjfT '.HMM'- tp., : KUsMii jin. Mil'. .yifl U'-QUST Design Principle: l" tern i'g! Design Principle: Preserve typical railings and upgrade to fulfill code and insure safety Preservation and remembrance of the space- its function as a railway and its architectural history. Causal connection Symbolic of the original function S S
Design Principle: Preserve north-south sight lines and linear consistency. Preservation of open site lines to replicate the spirit of movement by the trains down the corridor. Physica connection s s Y S s
H Design Principle: Preserve and reveal the struc- ture providing opportunities to inhabit and appreciate details. Acknowledgement of the mod- ernist era and the significance of the structure Physical connection s s s s
Design Principle: Preserve wild opportunistic landscape by erhancing exist- ing plant species. Look to the wild landscape for inspiration, but translate with species that have more aestnetic cualities. s Physical connection s s s s S
Design Principle: pre- serve industrial presence of the High line at the street level. Ef- fort to maintain consistency of business types anc to preserve gritty urban characer/' Preserve the separation of garden/ pars experience that exists between street level and the High line. Physical connection s s s s s
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Signifier Description 1 Signified Index Iconic Symbolic "Picturesque" representation Values for care Spectator view manipulation 0> .c S £ o.e 0X3 > 3 Pastoral qualities Litcrory conventions used
Design Principle: Preserve unusual & found conditions Preserve the variability, details and intricacy cf the wild landscape. Phys cal connection Enhanced simula- tion s Symbolic of Picturesque deals Y Y Y Y Y
=f t t == *1 zx:rzrm **\ !- .M^ SSS^i Des gn Pmciple: Preserva- tion of meandering & varied experience ^reserve the variabi ity and ability to wander through the andscape. ^ ,/ Physical connection Enhanced simula- tion n/ Symbolic of Picturesque ideals Y Y Y Y Y Y
Year-Round Blooming Landscape Wild nature needs to be en- hanced to be appreciated. Causal connection Enhanced simula- tion s Symbolic of Picturesque ideals Y Y Y Y Y Y
Representation of s mulated ecotones based on selective aesthetics The ecotone as it exists in nature does not meet the aesthetic standarcs cf cultural exoectations. " ^ Enhanced simulation: Physical connection Designer-translated eco- tones represent selective qualities That are chosen from specific ecotones s Symbolic cf Picturesque ideals Y Y Y Y
Posted signs instructing people on how to use the park: 'Protect the plants, stay on the patn' Open House NYC popu arity CTX prohibited access but one of the warehouses dd.511 West 25th stroof- overwhelmng interest m experience Control of the habitat produced by the uroan garden Transgressive quality of wilderness, desire to view the fantasy that was created in the press. s Physical connection s Causal connection Signs & language are symbolic s Symbolic of Picturesque ideals Y Y Y _L- Y Y Y Y Y
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Signifier Description Signified Index Iconic Symbolic "Picturesque" representation Values for care Spectator view manipulation Evokes the sublime Pastoral qualities Literary conventions used
lemoval of ballust material/medi- im -complete site reconstruction >rk>r to design implementation iuman safety, cessation of abiotic ifocesses acting on site, preverv ion of re-eme'gence of messy, un- ilanned species in order to design or "desired emergence" Human control of nature: Des.re to recreate an ideal zed nature that functions without the abiotic, blottc processes that hac existed on the site. An idealized re-designed na- ture. Polluted/degraded sites must be scraped/sanitized/rebuilt to guarantee health & safety. Prevent certain kinds of "emergence." s Physical & causal S S
H1GHU LINE n e b Use of imagery/photog'a- phy to promote/remember/ record Hign Line develop- ment Visual communication of values, representeo images of idealized qualities of nature produced by human orchestration. s Phys cal Any visual representation or metaphoric reference is iconic. S
S Rat boxes Discreet human control of na- ture: Se eetive species control s Physical / S
Roped barriers are added, sepa- rating people and their paths from the beds People will damage the plant- ings, need to separate people and nature Physical s Symbolic of cultural perception of nature S s s
Fra-I plant choices juxtaposed with heavy steel preserved rail line, emphasized contrasts in early spring Humanity contrasted with Non-hunan nature: romantic, aesthetic qualites of nature with the ruggec, heavy steel constructs of humans. Physical s Symbolic of cultural perception of nature s s
Simu ated ecotones of woodland, grassland, wetland Communicating specific ecotypes found in nature that are related to ecotypes that were found in the wild space. Physical Simulated, re-presented nature Symbolic of human inability to perceive "beauty" in nature unaltered. s s
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Signifier Description Signified Index n 0 2. S (> < 2 O' o_ n* "Picturesque* representation Values for care Spectator view manipulation Evokes the sublime Pastoral qualities Literary conventions used
Edged plant beds fade into the human paths of the concrete ptanks Mixed habitats/materials interfacing s Symbolic mixing of habitats to replace our inability to accept their existence s
Turf space slotted at Community 4's request 'The place where people can interact with green space.' s Physical Turf areas are for people* learned behavior S s
Restoration of historic Art Deco steel railings at every street crossing Aesthetic treatment to repre- sent High Line's care for the structure from street level. y/ y/ Physical Historic preservation re=presents history, repaired >/ Care only given where people can see it. s
Training of trees for success Desire to see plants healthy, and with preferred growing habit. / Physical S Inability to let nature self-select S s
Two kids were picked out of the crowd to be the "co-2 millionth" visitors. Parks brass celebrated the two kids and their family like heroes. Officials gave the chil- dren & their mom a plaque and a starring role in a tree-planting ceremony, to commemorate the attendance milestone. The more people, the more popular and fashionable it is to experience and be seen there. y/ S Movie & music culture: Causal numbers equal success s Hollywood celebrity culture s
Areas where tracks are completely hidden by vegetation within the design. Emphasis in design was on making the beds look dense with plantings, preferred over accentuating the artifact. s S y Iconifies the wild landscape and Physical Sternfeid's photos Y Diminished attention on human uses s
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Signifier si 1 Description Signified Index Iconic Symbolic 3g >2 | § !g ig s*f - 2 5S S-5 £ Evokes the sublime Pastoral qualities Literary conventions used
-r *Kt '" TT% At* Phenomomenological/omamen- tal questions to sta'f: Questions are usually based on plant- specific questions frecuently about a blooming plant or one that smells a certain wav Aesthetics- based design pro- motes interest in phenomeno- log cal experience of site in an obvious anc apparent way. s s S
Density of plantings proh bits entry Inability to inhabit the land- scape. s s Wild landscapes are dense and overgrown and impenetrable by humans. s s s S
K* Ghosting in of tracks Into the pathways are suggestive of follies. Romantic natjre of relcs of the past. (Assumes a known narrative that may not be shared by all viewers.) / s Metaphcroal, Use of relics as ornament. s s s s
B Design partially hiding views into the distance, leading the eve through the landscape Production of a varied experi- ence, inspiring cunosity by hiding part of the view s s s s
3; Diagonal patterning of concrete plank system. Conveys a feeling of expanse, bor- dered with perimeter p antings. y/ S Picturesque landscape s s s S s
Gardeners use Oudolf's planting design to guide proportions of soecies in planting beds. Selective control of more aggres- sive species in planting beds S ^ Simulated Physical .. . wile landscape s s s s s s
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Signifier Description Signified Index Iconic < 3 O' o_ n* "Picturesque" representation Values for care Spectator view manipulation Evokes the sublime Pastoral qualities \ Literary conventions used 1
p*0! iJ -v \ .P. ; -3 i "t. .*; 4 l_ & _j Framing of views: Architecture is the new horizon beckoning in- stead of rolling hills and clusters of tree canopies. The Picturesque High Line reveals the "Urban Pastoral/' Architecture as the reveal, viewer as the subject Y Y s s S
Frequency and sheer number of people photographing the space, not just their fnends/families in the space, but the plants and the views. Authority/primacy given to the spectator. Y Y s s S S
Deliberate editing of the human part of the landscape's past (much like the Native Americans being edited out of the Frontier narratlve)--as a viewer under- stands less about the human intent and the complexity of interpretation between the text and what is viewed. The romantic quality of nature is preserved as "pure" without people. Y s s S S
"Agri-tecture" Oesign concept Implies a cultivated & delineated wilderness, utilizing the concrete pianks to create emergent condi- tions which could accommodate a variety of human & non-human ecological conditions, various human programmatic activities as well as a range of habitats. People are the active participant in this concept as the "range of habitats" does not allow for emergent conditions given each ecotype's seclusion (both physi- cally and through maintenance practice) preventing their interaction. Y Y s S S
Speculative graph of increase of human diversity of spatial use over time. People are the active participant in shaping this space and con- tributing to its diversity of uses and programming over time, but activities are specific to social demographic. Y Y s S S
Habitat art in the park The need for people to create habitat for birds and need to control of non-human nature. Y S |Bird habitat as spectacle by ^ausa* categorizing it as "art1. s
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Full Text

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DECONSTRUCTING THE HIGH LINE: THE REPRESENTATION AND RECEPTION OF NATURE IN POST INDUSTRIAL URBAN PARK DESIGN by Patsy McEntee B.A., Binghampton University, 1995 A thesis submitted to the University of Colorado Denver in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Landscape Architecture 2012

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This thesis for the Master of Landscape Architecture degree by Patsy McEntee has been approved by Joern Langhorst Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture College of A rchitecture and Planning University of Colorado at Denver Anthony Mazzeo Senior Instructor of Landscape Architecture College of Architecture and Planning University of Colorado at Denver Charles Chase Director of Landscape Architecture Studies at Col lege of Architecture and Planning, University of Colorado at Boulder April 12, 2012 Date

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McEntee Patsy (MLA) Deconstructing the High L ine: The Representation a nd Reception o f Nature i n Post Industrial Urban Park Design Thesis directed by Associate Professor Joern Langhorst ABSTRACT The aim of this thesis is to study how nature is represented and p erceived through the lens of cultur al values which influence the development, design and reception of public park spaces. This research uses the High Line in New York City (designed by Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro) as a case study to explore how underlying values about nat ure have influenced its development as an elevated rail, an abandoned infrastructure and now a celebrated model for reuse as a park. In 2009 the space was opened to the public as a re interpreted eco typical botanic garden portraying an idealized nature an Drawi ng from Semiotic and Reception t heory, this thesis analyzes how modes of representation have been used to const ruct particular meanings and ideologies about the landscape These values are revealed thro ugh the semiotic manifestation of both material and immaterial signs The development of the High Line exemplifies the polarity between the cultural i deal of the static and orderly gard en and the messy processes of wild inspired its preservation, its design and development indicate a continued value for the idealized representation of nature through Picturesque represe ntation and the selec tive editing of site history. recommend its publication. Approved by Joern Langhorst Associate Professor University of Colorado at Denver

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT nthusiasm, contributions Komara for her partici pation and assistance. I am grateful to Senior Instructor Tony Mazzeo for his continued insight from the crossroads of theory and practic e and Charlie Chase for his instrumental voice from the field of Thesis Scholarship in Landscape Architecture.

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The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity... and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, natu re is imagination itself. William Blake

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TABLE OF CONTENTS Figures . .. vi i Tables viii CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION 1 2 METHODOLOGY 5 3 SITE DESCRIPTION AND CONTEXT 11 4 THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS AND UNDERLYING CONCEPTS 21 Landscape Architecture T heory 21 Reception Theory 23 Semiotic Theory 2 6 Cultu ral and Ecological Performanc es . . . 28 5 LANDSCAPE AS IDEA: THE FOUR NATURES . . 3 1 1 st Nature: Wilderness and Idealization . 3 3 2 nd Nature: Cultivated Lan dsc ape . 35 3 rd The Garden: Nature and Imagination 38 4 th Nature : Hybrid L andscapes . .. 42 6 TRANSFORMATION : BUILDING A RECEPTIVE HISTORY OF S ITE 44 High Line as Infrastructure as Wilderness as Celebrated Park 7 CONSTRUCTION AND PRODUCTION OF NATURE 59 A Semiotic Analysis of Landscape 8. DECONSTRUCTION ( CONCLUSION ) 76 APPENDIX A. SEMIOTIC ANALYS IS DIAGRAM ... 83 B. HIGH LINE PARK MAP . 96 C. PARK DEVELOPMENT AND DESIGN DOCUMENTS 97 GLOSSARY OF TERMS 105 BIBLIOGRAPHY ... 109

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LIST OF FIGURES Figure 3.1 Context map of the High Line (2012) 11 3.2 Context Map of the High L ine, Section 1 with access points ... 14 18 19 6.1 Looking North from 23rd St. and Ninth Avenue 46 6.2 High Line/Chelsea Warehouse Marketing Ad 48 6.2 High Li ne Guerilla Gardening. . 51 52 54 55 6.7 Joel Sternfeld : Save the Tracks Mural 56 6.8 Joel Sternfeld: Ailanthus Trees 56 6.9 Wild Relics 58 7.1 Railway Vines 59 7.2 Joel Sternfeld: Fallen Billboard 62 7.3 Chelsea Grasslands 62 66 7.5 The Urban Pastoral Landscap 66 7.6 7.12 Signifying Practices in the Development of the High Line 6 6 B.1 H igh Line Park Map and Regulations, Section 1 .. 90 C.1.1 High Line Planting Design and Landscape Zones ... 91 C.1.2 Landscape Construction 92

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C.1.3 Plant Design Bloom Chart 93 C.1.4 New Archit ectural Projects along the High Line 94

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LIST OF TABLES Table 2.1 Semiotic Analysis Diagram 9 3.1 Pre Development Financial Assessment 13 3.2 Post Development Finan cial Assessment 13 3.3 Construction Funding Sources 13 3.4 Land Use Comparisons 2002 and 2010 15 3.5 NYC Park Operations Cost Comparison 16 7.1 Tenets of the Picturesque 6 1 A.1 Semiotic Analysis Diagram of the High Line 87 C.1.1 Flora Species Found Along the High Line Pre development ( 2002) 92

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION o the writings of Immanuel Kant and has continued as a contested subject between scholars of the natural and social sciences ever since. In c work which initially drove the division of nature 1 and culture, the idea emphasizes the in tricacy of connection between nature and the production of human meaning. 2 This debate has polarized the objective and subjective unde rstanding of nature by pitting the reality and ready apprehension of natur e against the truth value questioning of scienti fic knowledge. 3 Most recent ly, the development of sociological theory termed social constructivism views human and non human 4 Contemporary French sociologist Bruno Latour support s this synthesized approach as unambiguous proof of the complex interactions between nature and cultur e, contending that support a whole host of questionable dualisms 5 i s envisioned such that it cannot be reduced to the human perception of nature versus nature itself. With this in mind, we struggle to negotiate the objectified relationship that has been established through cultural modes of representation This conflict i s exacerbated in urban environments where the need for more less densely settled areas where such space is more readily available. The urban nature dialectic is one tha t has b een maintained by values tha t have historically communicated a reverence for the orderly appearance of nature through the typologies of maintain the perceived separation between the human and non human sy stems that interact outside of the spatial designation s humans make for nature. In addition, this objectified view of nature is reinforced through the material and imma terial acts of representation whic h can be interpreted through a semiotic s tudy of our l andscapes. By studying the signs and signifying practices that are laden in the development of a site, the values and authors of these texts may be extracted For centuries, the Picturesque genre of landscape design has conveyed specific ideologies and a esthetics about the treatment of nature For the visitor, such landscapes blur the boundaries between what is perceived to be natural and 1 nature I refer to is one that inclu des both human and non human processes though the symbolic character of language leaves the term open to interpretation. This being the case, the essence of the problem is the human biotic and abiotic syst ems that specifically are exclusive of human operations. 2 University of California Santa Barbara http://www.newvisions.ucsb.edu/visions/nature_as_culture/ index.html (accessed 4.10.12). 3 Paul R. Gross and Norman Levitt, Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science ( Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994 ). 4 Annals of the Association of American Geographers 88 no.3 (1998): 352 376. 5 Bruno Latour, Pandora's Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999).

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what is designed, thereby suggesting nature as the author of landscapes that are anything but natural. 6 This construct ed nature has consequences because it communicates an idealistic nature with particular qualities that are deemed healthy. 7 In addition, the repetition of a singular landsc ape genre develops an expectation of a particular experience of nature, limiting the phenomenological and imaginative human experience from a landscape and the richer texts developed from its reception. 8 Robert Smithson observes P icturesque, far from being an inner movement of the mind, is based on real land; it precedes the mind in its material in a process of ongoing relationships existing in a physical region the park for 9 This perspective treats landscape as a narrative from which every visitor reads a text. The text is largely shaped by cultural constructs, but it is also shaped by their own individual experiences and presuppositions of what nature is and how it performs. The narrative that is written through the practice of landscape architecture uses a combination of form, material, space and geophysical chara cteristics as a means of shaping the story. It exists temporally and on many scales: it has multiple histories because it memory, values, and their current and future exp eriences of the site. neighborhood (designed by Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro) as an urban post industrial site that has undergone both cultural and ecological succession and is now a model for infrastructural re use. The High Line is a mechanism for the expression of cultural values and by studying it much can be learned about the role and perception of nature in our contemporary urban landscape. The High Line as a post indus trial site is part of a larger context, the succession of obsolete sites and infrastructural networks in urban centers across the U.S. Cycles of development, use and abandonment have become recognized more clearly in the post industrial era as large tracts of urban areas have been subject to abandonment and neglect through disuse. These patterns of neglect have revealed ecological opportunities and the availability for processes of plant succession and the messiness of nature to take hold. 10 In urban areas where the landscape is constituted of rigid architectural forms and is planned for human density and the efficient movement of people and goods the disorderly form of wild nature is an anomaly, juxtaposed with our own preferences for organized urban syste ms. While the existence of weed species in these areas have often been viewed as indicators of abandonment by humans, their proliferation is often curtailed by redevelopment within a short enough time period that opportunities 6 Susan Herrington Landscape Journal 25 (March 2006): 24. 7 Landscape Journal 14 (1995): 161 170. 8 Susan Herrington Landscape Journal 25 (March 2006): 24. 9 John Dixon Hunt, The Afterlife of Gardens (Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004).16. 10 American Scientist 88 (2000): 422.

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for further successional use by species through the development of shrubs and small trees are eliminated quickly. 11 The history of the High Line features this stage of transition as one that influenced a change in the human relationship with the urban wilderness, in its transformation from eyesore to icon, creating opportunities while concurrently driving efforts for demolition. Though its implementation took 50 years to come to fruition, in 1932 the elevated railway viaduct was a symbol of moderni sm and technological progress a feat of engineering that produced environmental benefits for the community. Commercial activity sustained its u se for another 50 years when shifting transportation infrastructure favored the trucking industry over rail. By 1980 the structure, neglected and forg otten in a primarily industrial district, became a relic that the City chose to ignore. The dereli ct space developed new uses and meanings as it became a transgressive space for illicit activities and the occasional guerilla garden. Its deteriorating skele ton was viewed as an obstacle to business growth while it concurrently became a petri dish for successional processes to interact with human habitats. This hybrid landscape became a wilderness for multiple living systems. 12 Since the late 1990s, v isual re presentation practices have had a significant role in maintenance, publicity, urban planning, and use. By 2005, a 20 year long battle within the neighborhood to demolish the structure resulted in its pres ervation, but not without the iconic representation of the space as a wilderness. From 1999 2000 art photographer Joel Sternfeld photographed it, revealing it as a 13 This act of representing an u nkempt, wild nature that took hold in the midst of Manhattan transformed cultural views of the space from neglected human domain to that of 14 By iconifying it, describing it and marketing it as such, a neighborhoo d preservation effort started by two people Hollywood elite. In one swoop of powerful landscape imagery, a space with a varied past of both celebrated and sordid human activity becam e objectified as a romantic and imaginary realm of nature, devoid of people, transgressive and mythical. The High Line also reveals the economic implications of park development, and the effects of neighborhood rezoning and environmental justice for commun ities While the High Line cultivated a donor society of wealthy Manhattanites eager to support a high design park of private public partnership, 15 11 American Scientist 88 (2000): 418. 12 Before site demolition, horticultural taxonomist Scott D. Appell of the Historical Society of New York inventoried the species on the site. There are personal accounts of how people in the neighborhood used and viewed the site. Because there was never a study completed to inventory the kinds of wildlife and in sects that were found in the abandoned space, we are unable to confirm the variations in fauna and insects that have changed site over the course of its transformation. As a result, the inventoried species may be described but with the assumption that var ying species of birds and insects co habited the site in order to propagate the ecosystem that grew there. 13 (accessed December 12, 2011). 14 Adam Walking the High Line (New York: Steidl Pace McGill Gallery, 2001), 48 9. 15 ailroad Into a 21st Landscape Architecture 99 (2009): 95.

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it is questionable if the long term maintenance of such a park is feasible. At $672,000 an acre to operate an the average park costing $9,555 an acre. 16 The redevelopment of post industrial sites into fashionable new parks also has far reaching consequences to the diverse and low income neighborhoods that have nu rtured their community for so long. Like Central Park, the planning of parks for the initial purpose of providing urban communities with social, recreation and health benefits quickly spurred higher income commercial and housing developments, displacing th eir original inhabitants. Such communities that are in the greatest need of parks are soon priced out of their own neighborhood once the parks are built. The High Line is significant because of its role as an idealized model of infrastructural re use and u rban renewal. Cities both nationally and internationally have struggled with what to do with defunct urban infrastructural networks and too often the tendency has been to demol ish and build anew. Many U.S. cities are looking to re create the public space t hrough similar projects in their own urban landscapes from obsolete or soon to be outdated infrastructural elements; Detroit, Atlanta and Memphis are interested in applying the model to their outmoded transpo rtation structures 17 Similar projects are also b eing discussed for Chicago ( Bloomingdale Trail ), Philadelphia ( Reading Viaduct ), Jersey City ( the Sixth Street Embankment ) and St. Louis ( the I ron Horse Trestle ). This thesis looks at the complexity of the reception of nature and the to landscape The chapters of this thesis have been constructed in a similar fas hion. Site History (Ch 3) and Theoretical Foundations (Ch 4) create a groundwork for the exploration of Landscape as Idea (Ch5). Chapter 5 analyzes the production of ideas regarding nature through the lens of the four natures. Chapter 6, Transformation ela borates on the building of a reception of site, emphasizing the human and non human forces that shaped the High Line while taking note of aspects of its development that were either emphasized or dismissed in its new role as public space. Finally, Chapter 7 The Construction and Production of Nature highlights the cultural values of the Picturesque that are pervasive in the High Line and can be identified through the site by way of a semiotic analysis. The High Line provides a valuable site for studying an urban infrastructural corridor whose meaning has been transformed by the human and non human processes acting on a site over time Despite the undeniable role of h umans within this ecosystem, this landscape has been re created as one that is separate from nature through modes of representation with design playing a primary role in framing this perception. The High Line provides a unique opportunity to understand landscape architecture as an evolving practice whose tactics should be further challenged and e xplored as a medium for the propagation of cultural ideals. 16 New York Post 10 August 2009, http://www.nypost.com /p/news/regional/ sky_high_costs_ jWqyNl68fwWJ3YVGVNlOhL (a ccessed October 12, 2011). 17 The New York Times, 15 July 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/15/arts/design/15highline.html (accessed March 10, 2012).

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CHAPTER 2 METHODOLOGY Method Chelsea/Meatpacking District will be presented in this document. A study of this park highlights the polar ities between the cultural perception of ecological and the modes of representation that promote this differential This case study will have multiple units of analysis in order to analyze the different modes of repr experience of a site. The complexities of historical, ecological and social factors that are present in the High Line are represented through: 1. Development of archival research 2. Development of relative theory 3. A semiot ic analysis of landscape elements, park development practices and design development documents. Production of diagrams that analyze relationships. 4. Informational interviews research design quality, 18 also summarized by L. Kidder and Judd. 19 Research was collected and analyzed to construct and determine internal validity. Theoretical foundations for the research were established and tested to determine external validity. A case study prot ocol and database was created for the collection and analysis of the research in order to demonstrate the reliability and diligence of the data compilation. I. Archival Research Sources of Information have included: Design development drawings, public proce ss meeting minutes, planning documents, books photography (marketing, art photography, informational, historical), web based articles, You tube videos, newspaper articles, and magazine and journal articles. The history of the High Line is well documented regarding its development and inception. The events surrounding efforts to preserve and/or demolish the structure are even more so though conflicting information regarding public safety and health issues due to the degradation of the High Line was laundere d in the mass media. Socio economic implications for the local community as well as local 18 Robert K. Yin, Case S tudy Research : Design and Methods. Applied Social Research Methods Series (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 2003), 35 41. 19 Judd T. Kidder, Research methods in Social Relations (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1986), 26 29.

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businesses and landowners are ever present in the community meeting minutes and planning documents that exist. The rise of celebrity of the Friends of the High Line founders and the strategies to gain support for the park was a highly visible series of promotional events. As was the well publicized design competition to generate ideas for the park. As noted previously, media coverage in anticipation of the park and si nce its opening in 2009 is endless and multifaceted, illustrating how the High Line has become its own cultural juggernaut. II. Development of Relevant T heory A body of theoretical literature was developed for the purposes of analyzing this research. The app lication of this theory provides context for understanding how the research is presented and the framing of the argument through the lens of Reception and Semiotic Theory. Landscape architecture theory provides a historical context for the values about non human nature as it has developed in the U.S. This literature is summarized in Chapter 4. III. Semiotic Analysis and D iagram D evelopment Both physical/material and non material signs graphically, spatially and conceptually illustrate the semiotic relatio nships evident on the site. In addition to photographic representation collected during site visits during the past year, photographic imagery was collected from its early history as an active railroad as well as during its abandonment. The art photographe r Joel Sternfeld was hired to analysis. The Friends of the High Line maintain a website that functions in a variety of ways: besides posting historical, regulatory, media related and programmatic information about the High Line, it also provides an interactive online database for photo imagery. Visitors to the High Line are able to upload their own photography to the site. Despite being a small representation of the number of visit ors, this publicized imagery exemplifies the subject matter and types of experience that is interpreted from the site. IV. Informational Interviews Many of the desired interviews for this research project could not be performed because of a lack of responsi veness on the part of the interviewees or their organizations, specifically Friends of the High Line and Field Operations. At the start of the research phase, the objective had been to perform informational interviews with the stakeholders and designers of the space in order to extract the nuances of cultural values that shaped and directed the design intent during design development. Multiple attempts were made to make contact with the designers of the High Line. Requests for interviews and specific infor mation from landscape architects from Field Operations went unanswered, as did information and interviews requested from Piet Oudolf, the planting designer. Various stakeholders including the City of New York Parks and Recreation Department, and additional staff of the Friends of the High Line were all unresponsive to requests for interviews and documentation.

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the custodian, fundraiser and operations entity for the park. They are also t he communications coordinator for everything to do with the High Line. From programming to media coverage to design queries to visitation and public process, one individual from FHL, Kate Lindquist, fields every question. Any contractor that worked on the project has been directed to withhold informati on without a directive from Lindquist. FHL has provided me with a list of potential contacts; however, the organization itself was reluctant to provide me a contact due to an overwhelming number of requests. J ohnny Linville, Horticulture Forman for FHL was a source of an abundant amount of information about the construction, maintenance and design of Phases 1 and 2. Through a series of interviews via phone and a site tour of the space, Linville was an instrumen tal source for understanding the current landscape maintenance regimes, operations protocol, gardening practices and relations with the public visitors. Communication about the High Line has always been highly visual, from the early efforts to save the str ucture with the rallying efforts of neighborhood postings to the distinctive logo development which gave credence to an unfunded but highly connected community organization (the newly established FHL in 1999). This is evidenced through the use of powerful photo imagery by Joel Sternfeld, the wide range of photography captured by visitors strolling the narrow corridors of the space and the views recorded from the roofs of adjacent buildings. Such viewpoints have provided unique perspectives of this space ove r time and have been significant in influencing the modes of representation of the High Line. Methods of Chapter Analysis Chapter 5 Landscape as Idea: The Four Natures: Chapter 5 analyzes the production of ideas regarding nature through the lens of the four natures and the language that has been used to shape values and human respon ses. This chapter uses Chapter 4 Theoretical Foundations to build a foundation for understanding the cultural constructs of imagining nature. _______________________________ _________________________________ Chapter 6 Transformation: Building a Receptive History of Site: A true receptive history would include for the individual visitor an carry wit relationship with the site over time. Archival research regarding the High Line has periods of time that the space has evolved through has been significantly underdeveloped in cultural recordings and representation. As far as cultural representation goes, the history of the High Line began in the popular media only at the point when Joel Sternfeld produced and marketed hi s art photography of the space. Prior to that point, the High Line was as good as forgotten since in

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many ways it had already been dismissed as a pending demolition. Because of this, there exists a need to represent this history that is so critical to unde rstanding the palimpsest of this site. As a res ult, Chapter 6 employs a variety of historical accounts and interviews in an effort to recreate the processes that acted on the site over time, processes that shaped its development and the responses that peop le had to nature wild acts of defiance. _________________________________ ____________________________ Chapter 7 Construction and Production of Nature There are two layers of analysis that are done to extract information from development. The first layer is the semiotic analysis and the second layer is the identification and categorization of signs and signifying practices into categories of Picturesque qualities. The diagram which analyzes the signs and signifying practices identified in the development and design of the High Line can be found as Appendix A. The table is included below and notes the table headings and information type relevant to each sign being evaluated. The third row explains the type of information, how t he information is derived and lists questions that are relevant to semiotic analysis and modes of representation. As with any semiotic interpretation, signs may signify multiple concepts and can fall under multiple modes of representation (index, icon, and symbol). I also acknowledge that I am the individual who is performing this analysis and that I bring along my own set of values to the interpretation. Regardless of this, the values that I have identified are strong cultural values that underlie a human world that is American and capitalist. Because I bring this same background to the analysis, I aim to extract the values that are part of my own culture. For this analysis, the semiotic theory of Saussure will be used, offering a dyadic sign: where the si gn is composed of the signifier and the signified: 20 The signifier is the form which the sign takes. The signified is the mental concept represented by the signifier. While a broadly Saussurean framework is being applied in this analysis, Peircean distinc tions will be used. I am adopting this model with the understanding that the form need not be physical; it may be material or immaterial as supported by Peirce. 21 in the interpretation of the The recognition of icon, index and symbol reveal the degree to which the form identified represents the concept, and thereby how direct or arbitrary that signs can be a object and an interpretant; icons, indices and symbols are classes by w hich signs 20 Daniel Chandle r, Semiotics: the Basics (New York: Routledge, 2002), 18. 21 Paul Cobley, Semiotics: The Routledge Companion (New York: Routledge, 2010), 92 93.

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22 system of signs, those that study semiotics emphasize that the relationship between the signified and the signifier is dependent on learned social and cultural pr actices. 23 As a result, the ability to interpret signs amid the conceptual modes of icon, index and symbol is reliant on the strength of the conventionality based on how well that relationship has been acquired through cultural practice. The table of contemporary Picturesque tenets which I am using to evaluate the signs that have been identified is included in Chapter 7 The Construction and Production of Nature 24 Fo llowing is the Semiotic analysis table describing how the research was interpreted: Table 2.1 Semiotic Analysis Diagram Signifier (Material or immaterial representation or signifying practice) Description Signified (The concept the form represen ts) Modes of Relationship (Between the signifier and the signified) Index (Nature of connection: causal or physical) Iconic (Resembling or imitating, posessing similar qualities) Symbolic (Signifier does not resemble the signified learned relationsh ip) Photographic representation of the sign or signifying practice is included in this cell. Description of signifier What is the concept or concepts that the signifier communicates ? Indexical modes exhibit direct relationships between the signi fier and the signified Is the signifier perceived as resembling or imitating the signified being similar in possessing some of its qualities. Icons incl ude all metaphor and photographic/ visual representation. Is this a mode in which the signifier does not resemble the signified but is arbitrary so that the relationship must be learned? (All language is symbolic). 22 Idem. 23 Paul Cobley, Semiotics: The Routledge Companion (New York: Routledge, 2010), 31. 24 See Chapter 4, Theo retical Foundations for the foundations of thought driving the Picturesque. Re interpretations and contributions to this theory can be found in: Susan Herrington Landscape Journal 25 (March 2006): 24.

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This thesis looks at the complexity of the cultural information represented ng and after an initial experience. The chapters of this thesis have been constructed in a similar fashion. Site History (Ch 3) and Theoretical Foundations (Ch 4) created a groundwork for the exploration of Landscape as Idea (Ch5). This Chapter analyzes th e production of ideas regarding nature through the lens of the four natures and the language that has been used to shape values and human responses. Chapter 6 Transformation elaborates on the building of a reception of site, emphasizing the human and non h uman forces that shaped the site while taking note of aspects of its development that were either emphasized or dismissed in its new role as public space. Finally, Chapter 7 Construction and Production of Nature highlights key cultural values that are com municated through the site by way of a semiotic analysis.

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CHAPTER 3 SITE DESCRIPTION AND CONTEXT LOCATION 25 West Side of Manhattan, Chelsea/Meatpacking Districts, New York, NY, USA Section 1: Gansevoort Street to 20th Street (This case study is lim ited to Phase 1) Section 2: 20th Street to 30th Street Section 3: West Side Rail Yards: 30th to 34th Streets (This portion of the line was only recently secured in 2011) SIZE 26 Section 1: 2.79 acres, 9 blocks, .5 mile Section 2: 2.14 acres, 10 blocks, .5 mile Section 3: 2.15 acres, .45 mile Total length: 1.45 miles without Post Office spur Total: 6.7 acres, 22 blocks, 1.45 mile Figure 3 .1 Context Map of the High Line 25 http://www.thehighline.org/news/pres s archive (accessed April 2, 2011). 26 Design Trust for Public Space, Reclaiming the High Line 2002, 7, http://www.designtrust.org/pubs/01_Reclaiming_High_Line.pdf (Accessed 2.10.2012).

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Park Precedent While the media touts the High Line as the first elevated linear park built on old railroad track, this is only true in the U.S. The idea originated in Paris in 1988 with the design of the Promenade Plante a 2.8 mile long series of Arrondissement. The design of the Promenade Plante is formal and balanced with a linear walkway as the axis. The park is anchored on one end by the Opra Bastille and the other i s Bois de Vincennes. Like the High Line, t he Promenade Plante is also set compactly amongst the architecture of buildings. 27 Economic Impacts The High Line is managed by Friends of the High Line, a non profit, private partner to the New York City Depart ment of Parks and Recreation. The 501(c) (3) non profit was founded in 1999 by two neighborhood residents, Joshua David and Robert Hammond to advocate for the High Line's preservation when the structure was under threat of demolition. It is set up in the s ame way as the Central Park Conservancy, as a public private partnership. Friends of the responsible for maintenance of the park, and public programming pursuant to a license agreemen t with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. FHL also led the design process for the High Line's transformation to a public park, partnering with the City of New York on an international design competition that eventually selected the team of James Corner Field Operations (landscape architecture) and Diller Scofidio + Renfro (architecture). 28 FHL is responsible for all staffi ng except for security, which is the sole staff responsibility of the City of New York Parks and Recreation Department. 29 Pre Development 30 and Post Development Financial Assessments 31 Requests made to the Friends of the High Line for specific financial da ta related to construction and operations of the park went unanswered. In 1992, Transportation Board had required that all funding for demolition be secured prior to the proje ct, a cost of $ 1 00 million. 32 27 New Yor k Times May 14, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/opinion/15Rybczynski.html (accessed 10.10.11). 28 of the high line (accessed March 12, 2012). 29 Kate Lindqui st, Telephone interview with Patsy McEntee Shaffer Boulder, CO, December 8, 2011. 30 Joshua David, Robert Hammond. High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011), 46. 31 New York Times, August 2, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/03/realestate/commercial/cities see another side to old tracks.html?_r=3andadxnnl=1andref=realestateandsrc=meandadxnnlx=1331607737 UIMel7TrUFH7pq 0qwCdRAandpa gewanted=print (accessed December 10, 2011) 32 (2002), 71, http://www.designtrust.org/pubs/01_Reclaiming_High_Line.pdf (accessed 2.10.2012).

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Table 3 .1 Pre Development Financial Assessment Estimated construction costs (Sections 1 and 2) Estimated revenue from tax revenue increases $65 million to build Financial analysis indicated that the High Line could spur dev elopment and add an additional $250 million in incremental tax benefits to NYC over 20yrs. 33 This study was completed by HRandA Advisors, John H. Alschuler (who was the current board of directors of FHL in 2009). Table 3 .2 Post Development Financial Ass essment Actual construction costs (Sections 1 and 2) Real estate development $153 million to build $2 billion in new developments In 5 yrs since construction started, 29 new projects created, including 2500 new residential units, 1000 hotel rooms, 500,0 00 sqft of office and gallery space, an estimated $900 million in new residential and commercial development. 34 Table 3 .3 Funding of High Line Construction Construction Funding sources 35 Contribution City of New York $112.2 million Federal Government $ 20.3 million State of New York $400,000 Caledonia, developers of an adjacent luxury apartment building. Contribution was in exchange for zoning rights which enabled them to add more floor area to their building $6.9 million Friends of High Line, includ ing other private and corporate funding sources $13.2 million Total design and construction cost of Sections 1 and 2 (Construction took place from April 2006 June 2009) $153 million 33 sform A Defunct Railroad Into A 21st Landscape Architecture 99 (2009): 100. 34 New York Post (November 12, 2007), http://www.nypost.com/p/news/regional/it_one_el_of_park _cajThNYvr10rGdPm9cGNVL (accessed April 25, 2012). 35 http://www.nycedc.com/project/high line (accessed 3.5.12).

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Figure 3 .2 Context Map of the High Line Section 1 with access point s Community Profile: The following data presents a comparison of land use, demographic and economic data within Manhattan Community District 4, the district through which all but four blocks of the High Line travels. District 4 extends twice the length o f the High Line and changing the demographics of a neighborhood. At this time, 2010 data for the specific census tracts adjacent to the High Line does not include income and education statistics, important indicators of the trends in gentrification of a neighborhood. The statistics for Census tracts 79, 83, 89, 93, 97 and 99, the tracts immediately adjacent to the High Line, should be analyzed in the future when the information is available. The fa ct that this information is not yet readily available suggests that the speed of change within communities is occurring at a rate that is faster than we are willing or able to monitor and respond to. Following is additional information that reveals current dynamics of the Chelsea neighborhood: Between October 2008 and June 2009, the median list price for a home in the vicinity of the High Line rose from $870,000 to $1,300,000 at the opening of the first section of the new park. 36 Multiple large low income an d rent stabilized housing projects exist in Chelsea east of 10 th Avenue. 37 17% of residential units in Manhattan are nuclear families while 50% of them single person occupants. 38 36 info/NY 10011 home value/r_61625/#metricmt%3D18%26dt%3D1%26t p%3D5%26rt%3D7%26r%3 D61625%26 el%3D0 ( accessed June 2011). 37 (2002), 60, http://www.designtrust.org/pubs/01_Reclaiming_High_Line.pdf (accessed 2.10.2012).

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Community Open Space Needs 39 Prior to the development of the High Line as a pa rk, the west side of Manhattan had a disproportionately low acreage per capita of parks than the rest of Manhattan Community Board 4 ranked fourth from the bottom of 59 community districts in terms of open space. It had less than one fifth of an acre per thousand residents. The average city wide access to open space is 2.5 acres per thousand residents. Table 3 .4 Land Use Comparison: 2002 and 2010 Zoning Type 2002 2010 Lot Area Lot Area # of Lots Sq. Ft. % of Lot Area # of Lots Sq. Ft. % of Lot Area 1 2 Family Residential 103 172.2 0.5 130 218.2 0.6 Multi Family Residential 1,3 5 4 6,773.10 17.9 1,373 7,563.30 19.5 Mixed Residential / Commercial 708 3,144.40 8.3 797 4,539.40 11.7 Commercial / Office 425 4,220.30 11.2 467 4, 883.30 12.6 Industrial 382 3,985.10 10.5 239 2,379.30 6.2 Transportation / Utility 152 10,505.30 27.8 117 10,779.7 27.9 Institutions 155 3,539.60 9.4 176 3,838.60 9.9 Open Space / Recreation 19 773.5 2.1 18 756.3 2 Parking Facilities 215 2,285.90 6.1 159 1,766.60 4.6 Vacant Land 78 2,228.70 5.9 76 1,783.70 4.6 Miscellaneous 171.7 0.5 20 198.3 0.5 Total 3,626 37,799.8 100 3,572 38,706.6 100 38 /8/2010) http://fora.tv/2010/12/08/The_New_York_High_Line_An_Urban_Model_Or_Not (accessed November 21, 2011). 39 (2002), 7, http://www.designtrust.org/pubs/01_Reclaiming_High_Line.pdf (accessed 2.10.2012).

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Annual Maintenance and O perations C osts The High Line costs $4.5 million a year to maintain. The City of New York contributes $1 million of this amount annually. 40 the park, pursuant to a license agreement with the New York City Departme nt of Parks and Recreation." 41 Table 3.5 NYC Park Comparison: Annual Operations and Maintenance Costs 42 Park Cost per acre High Line per acre to operate.) $672,000 per acre. Bryant Park $479,166 per acre Central Park $ 32,000 per acre Average New York City park $9,555 per acre Security costs The park has 11 park enforcement patrol officers for the 4.9 acres of Sections 1 and 2 within the trendy, designer boutique filled Meatpacking District. The Bronx gets five enf orcement officers, for all 6,970 acres of Bronx parkland. City parks patrol officers at the High Line also operate crowd control and manage numbers on the H igh L ine limiting access at peak periods. The City of New York is responsible for the funding and s taffing of all safety and security enforcement. 43 Staffing 44 FHL staff features four people earning more than $100,000, including Hammond, who earned $280,000 last year. 45 There are a total of 30 F/T staff, administrative and field personnel. FHL staffs 7 F/T year round gardeners and utilizes over 200 volunteers during the spring green up (the event when all cut back of dead foliage takes place) and the growing season. 40 New York Post August 2009, http://ww w.nypost.com/p/news/regional/ sky_high_costs_jWqyNl68fwWJ3YVGVNlOhL (accessed October 12, 2011). 41 Friends of the High Line http://www.thehighline.org/ about/friends of the high line (accessed 1.15.12). 42 New York Post August 2009, http://www.nypost.com/p/news/regional/ sky_high_costs_jWqyNl68fwWJ3YVGVNlOhL (accessed October 12, 2011 ). 43 Landscape Architecture 99 (2009): 107. 44 Friends of the High Line http://www.thehighline.org/ about/friends of the high line (accessed 1.15.12). 45 New York Post August 2009, http://www.nypost.com/p/news/regional/ sky_high_cos ts_jWqyNl68fwWJ3YVGVNlOhL (accessed October 12, 2011).

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Programming and Vi sitor use The first year Section 1 of the High line opened ove r two million visitors were recorded with an average of 15,000 20,000 visitors on a busy Saturday during the growing season. Visitorship consists of 50% New York City residents and 50% non residents. Of these non residents, 25% are international travelers, primarily from Europe and Japan. 46 FHL started an education program in 2000 which has developed school trips, youth programs, arts programming, and cooperative programming with the Hudson Guild. 46 http://fora.tv/201 0/12/08/The_New_York_High_Line_An_Urban_Model_Or_Not (accessed November 21, 2011).

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20 T imeline footnotes 1 http://www.thehighline.org/about/high line history (accessed January 12, 2012). 2 Design Trust for Public Space Website, Reclaiming the High Line 2002 http://www designtrust.org/pubs/01_Reclaiming_High_Line.pdf (accessed 2.10.2012). 3 Chelsea Reform Democratic Club Website http://crdcnyc.org /Websites/CCtest/Images/History/New Chelsea_History_ Timelim e.pdf (accessed February 10, 2012). 4 http://www.thehighline.org/about/high line history (accessed January 12, 2012). 5 Idem. 6 Last of the Pack AMNY, http://www.amny.com/urbanite 1.812039 /last of the pack inside the beefy heart of the meatpacking district 1.1753483 (accessed January 30, 2012). 7 http://www.thehighline.org/about/high line history (accessed January 12, 2012). 8 Idem. 9 Idem. 10 Idem. 11 Idem. 12 Idem. 13 Design Trust for Public Space Website, Reclai ming the High Line 2002 http://www designtrust.org/pubs/01_Reclaiming_High_Line.pdf (accessed 2.10.2012). 14 Idem. 15 http://www.thehighline.org/about/high li ne history (accessed January 12, 2012). 16 Idem. 17 Idem. 18 Design Trust for Public Space Website, Reclaiming the High Line 2002 http://www designtrust.org/pubs/01_Reclaiming_High_Line.pdf (accessed 2.10.2012). 19 High L http://www.thehighline.org/about/high line history (accessed January 12, 2012). 20 Idem. 21 Idem. 22 Idem. 23 Idem. 24 Idem. 25 Idem. 26 Idem. 27 Idem. 28 Idem. 29 http://www.thehighline.org/about/high line history (accessed January 12, 2012). 30 Idem.

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21 CHAPTER 4 THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS AND UNDERLYING CONCEPTS Multiple theories and theoretical concepts are applicable to th e analysis and understanding of the High Line. For this project, the most relevant landscape architectural theory that has driven the research and analysis includes: The historical treatment of wilderness and the human nature dialectic that has motivated the persistence of Picturesque ideals in American landscape architecture. Reception theory and the idea that visitors carry both individual experiences and perceptions as well as embedded cultural values with them in the reading of a site. The power of la ndscape to communicate values regarding nature through cultural practices. This section will summarize existing theory that discusses the conflicts surrounding the human nature dialectic. The recognition that the Picturesque aesthetic has produced cultural p references for the idealizeation of nature. 47 I. Landscape Architecture Theory History and Tenets of the Picturesque Aesthetic While the genre was conceived and debated in the 18 th century by William Gilpin, Uvedale Price, Richard Payne Knight, and Edmu nd Burke among others, those that have been examined and explored in contemporary design by William Cronon, Susan Herrington and Joan Iverson Nassauer In The Trouble with Wilde rness William Cronon, explores the historical foundations of the American perception and treatment of nature, saying, too much to say that the modern environmental movement is itself the grandchild of romanticism and post frontier ideology, whi ch is why it is no accident that so much environmentalist discourse takes its bearings from the wilderness these 48 He identifies embedded values regarding the sacred treatment of natu re and how the romantic 47 serve to exclude humans as part of nature. These q the visual aestheticization of nature. In effect, these strategies actively dismiss the messiness, destructiveness and adversity that occur within non human ecological processes while environment. 48 Uncommon Ground (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996), 72.

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22 Sublime became a driver for the preservation of land. This preservation effort became an escape from the industrial qualities of urbanity, developing into a based recr eation where wilderness became a the historical narrative in order to sanitize nature by extracting human history from the landscape, citing the removal of the Native Americans as an act of purification of th e Frontier myth. He notes that idealizing a wilderness too often means not idealizing the environment in which we actually live, the landscape, for better or for worse we call home. 49 In Framed Again: The Picturesque Aesthetics of Contemporary Landscapes Susan Herrington discusses analyzing the Picturesque genre of landscape design as a style, as an ideology, and as an aesthetic. She recognizes the last century in human landscape interactions through environm ental psychology which focus ed on human preference for conditions and behaviors. This view supports a perception 50 Critical to her f the Picturesque operates expands how we perpetuate ideals and values through According to scholars, such landscapes have conveyed wealth of the hegemo nial sect. 51 She discusses design techniques that have been used historically to mask human authorship of the landscape and discusses tenets of the Picturesque that continue to be used such as the application of landscape narrative, primacy of the spectato mental connections between sensations, ideas, and memories 52 The use of Picturesque aesthetics in contemporary landscapes has ignored the theoretical contribution of the genre, reducing its contribution to aesthetic techniques while limiting the varied experience of the landscape. Joan Iverson Nassauer contends in Messy Ecosystems, Orderly Frames that the naturalness that Americans appreciate today is more closely related to an 18 th century concept of the Picturesque and the beautiful than it is to the understanding of ecological function. 53 Because the cultural concept of this genre of design produces a landscape that looks tended, not wild it becomes a ide 54 language that communicates human intention, particularly intention to care for ecological quality. T he 49 Uncommon Ground (N ew York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996), 85. 50 Rachel Kaplan Stephen Kaplan Robert L. Ryan With People in Mind: Design and Management of Everyday Nature (Washington D.C.: Island Press. 1998), 9. 51 Ann Bermingham, Landscape and Ideology: The English Rustic Tradition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), 1740 1860. 52 Susan Herrington Landscape Journal 25 (March 2006): 2 5. 53 Gina Crandell, Nature Pictorialized : "The View" In Landscape History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993), 161 170. 54 Landscape Journal 14 (1995): 168.

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23 for ecological function in design. 55 She attests that despite the love humans have quality directly, only through our see design that communicates human intention in settled landscapes so when wild vegetation develops, people perceive these lands as being neglected. The same indigenous communities presented in gardens or pr eserves are understood as nature and people find this landscape aesthetically pleasing. Nassauer 56 II. Reception Theory One way of exploring the experience of designed landscapes is through the adaptation of literary reception theory to the study of gardens. This thesis the High Line as a complex narrative. In this case, the garden is a text written over time and space, the visitor brings a pre pre The Afterlife of Gardens, John Dixon Hunt writes: processing of it takes place in certain conditions that control that interaction; these have to do with genre, tone, structure, etc., as well as the social cond itions in which it is read. The same is true of a garden, except that conventions and circumstances are different, even unique to that art; it uses different materials, involves the spatial experience of perambulation and (prime among the senses) viewing, and draws on assumptions that visitors bring with them about garden art and its different without stimuli or triggers, no response or interpretation will be 57 Hunt argues that such an approach via the reception of gardens expands their significance and meanings. 58 He contends that gardens are experienced often by a succession of visitors at different times and often from different cultures; differing experience, though partially determined by the design intent and its subsequent modifications, also augments the site's potentialities, and this "afterlife" of gardens comes to enhance the original moment of creation. Hunt r reception, a role that is purely a theoretical construct and not a specific person. 55 Ibid,166. 56 Landscape Journal 14 (1995): 168. 57 John Dixon Hunt, The Afterlife of Gardens (Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Pres s, 2004), 16. 58 Ibid, 14.

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24 where the gard 59 such as the history of the site or the understanding of ecological processes, can alter their ability to e njoy the designed qualities of the site, an idea that is also Detailed technical knowledge will also deter appreciation of Romantic qualities, aesthetic readings and even imagination. 60 Reception theory i s also addressed by Elizabeth Meyer in Sustaining Beauty. She talks about the : ecology, social equity and economy and how the ecological operates in relation to social justice and economic profit but not in terms of aesthetics. Meyer makes 61 She quotes Anne Whiston Spirn who describes the performative aesthetic of ecological processes: change, that encompasses dynamic processes rather than static objects, and that embraces multiple, rather than static objects and that includes both the making of things and places and the se nsing, 62 culture made with the materials of nature and embedded within and inflected by a particular social formation, employing ecological principles while also enabling 63 She also attests to the perception of looking designed landscapes quickly become 64 tenets speak to the performance of beauty as an event that works on our psyche and is an experience that is discovered through the sensorial experience. 65 Such a reception of nature is ac smelling and hearing, between reason and the senses, between what is known 66 Meyer contends that the fundamental beauty of landscape resides in its ability to change over time. The application of theory related to landscape and memory is critical to this research because of the shifting interpretations associated with the High Line as a place transformed and reinterpreted over time. These ty pes of cognitive processes are significant in the treatment of sites that have experienced varied 59 Elizabeth Freund, The Return of the Reader: Reader Response Criticism (London: Methuen, 1987), 144. 60 John Dixon Hunt, The Afterlife of Gardens (Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 16. 61 Landscape Architecture 98, no. 10 (2008): 94 95. 62 Ibid, 100. 63 Ibid,117. 64 Ibid,120. 65 Ibid,119. 66 Ibid,123.

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25 cultural meanings. In terms of the imposing post industrial ruins of our urban infrastructural networks, the scraping of a skyline through the demolition of s uch works leaves indelible images of a past often ignored and superceded by a subsequent function and form. Multiple opinions exist on the approach towards should be used as a d esign approach. 67 Complimentary to this, Peter Latz asserts that relationships must be made concrete and visible and that there is a cognitive re processing of the place on behalf of the viewer; it is the viewer, not the designer who re interprets space to create their own picture of a place. 68 These two approaches imply differing degrees of control on the part of the designer when considering the amount of influence the designer has on the ended in unders tanding how the space will be re interpreted over time and in turn, provides alternatives for design strategies that may be more flexible in meaning to the visitor. Exploring landscape as an idea frames a discussion for its understanding as a medium for th e communication and proliferation of cultural values. 69 Theory supporting the exploration of cultural meaning conveyed through landscape will be expounded upon in Chapter 5 of this thesis with brief summaries of the relevant texts included here. In Recoveri ng Landscape James Corner addresses landscape as both idea and artifact having the capacity to critically engage the metaphysical and political programs t hat operate in a given society; landscape architecture is not simply a reflection of culture but more an active instrument in the shaping of modern culture. Through its design and molding it conveys historical mores while also having the power to reinforce hegemonial agendas. 70 Also relevant to the discussion of the High Line is the concept of the three n atures, a 16 th used to distinguish the human designer of landscape The three natures will be discussed further in the subsequent chapter, Landscape as Idea. In The Social Creation of Nature Neil Evernden discusses the conceptual domestication and systemization of nature that has occurred which fr ames our continued treatment of it through culture. Naming nature has created relationships and associations with those conventions, thereby shaping how we understand what those elements are. But in doing this, fundamentals of nature have become social cre ations, with their explanations and meanings being 71 Frederick Turner also explores the complexities of an unpredictable and tran sformative nature in The Invented Landscape. understanding of tendencies of the human species. 72 67 Sbastien Marot, Sub Urbanism and the Art of Memory ( London: Architectural Association, 2003) 68 Udo Weilacher, Syntax of Landscape : The Landscape Architecture of Peter Latz and Partners (Boston, Mass., London: Birkhuser, 2008). 69 Denis Cosgrove, Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape (Totawa, NJ: Barnes and Noble, 1985). 70 Recovering Landscape : Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture ( New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 13. 71 Neil Evernden, The Social Creation of Nature (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 110. 72 Frederick Tur ner, The Invented Landscape (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 44.

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26 Turner distinguishes that ideas of sustainability and homeostasis are unnatural goals because o 73 Anne Whiston Spirn notes that the perception of the world as a complex network of relations has been a major contribution of ecology allowing us to see humans as one part of an int erconnected system. She observes that the prescription and proscription. In this way ecology has been used as a n authority with the historical use of nature as a guide for landscape design which defined an 74 III. Semiotic Theory: Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Peirce The study of social and urban semiotics will be used (the study of meaning as generated by signs, symbols, and the ir social connotations). The dyadic model will be used in conjunction with tenets of Peirce. The two differing modes of thought regarding semiology and semiotics originate with Ferdinand de Saussure (1857 1913) and Charles Sanders Peirce (1839 1914), respe ctively. While semiotic theory was originally developed by Ferdinand de Saussure, his concepts were largely grounded in the analysis of language as the basis of social life. For the analysis that is being performed as part of this case study, the dyadic mo del of Saussure will be used in conjunction with tenets of Peirce. Peircean and not descriptive like Sassure. It is also a formal and general theory of signs which means that i t applies to any kind of sign and because cognitive science is formal; its signs are relative to any subject. 75 Peirce also denies intuition, the direct relation between an object and its interpretant without the intervention of a sign. He supports that eve ry intellectual experience is a sign mediated acquisition of knowledge. S igns are the medium for thought minds are sign systems and thought is sign action. Anything can be a sign as long as it mediates between its object and its concept Icons, indices and symbols are classes by which signs relate to its object by degrees of directness or arbitrariness 76 relevance to Reception Theory. By assuming culture to be a system of signs, we acknowledge that the values and customs practiced and perpetuated by a group are communicated through those signs. Such signs that are communicated through the experience of a landscape or a park must be understood as received by the visitor, functioni performing a semiotic analysis of the High Line is what it reveals about contemporary cultural values about nature and park development Umberto Eco not mean explanation of all 73 Ibid, 41. 74 Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learn ing (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991), 37. 75 Paul Cobley, Semiotics: The Routledge Companion (New York: Routledge, 2010), 91. 76 Ibid, 92 93.

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27 phenomena of the given culture, but it rather enables us to explain why this 77 Semiotic codes are defined as procedural systems of related conventions for correlating signifiers and signif ieds in certain domains. 78 These c odes provide a framework within which signs make sense: they are interpretative devices which are used by communities of people operating with the knowledge of certain value systems They can be broadly divided into social codes, textual codes and interpretative codes. 79 Signs have no inherent significance without sign users investing them with meaning through the association with a recognized code Pierce developed a way to analyze the directness of the relationship a signifier has with its signified (Saussurian terms) through the modes of index, icon symbol. 80 The classification of these modes demonstrates the degree to which the sign meaning must be learned, therefore it can be inferred that the cultural meaning associations for the learning of arbitrary relationships must be pervasive INDEX signifier is not purely arbitrary but is directly connected in some way (physically or causally) to the signified this link can be obser ved or inferred (such as smoke or a clock 81 Thusly, the form which is represented is directly related to the idea, either physically or caus ally. Signs that exhibit an indexical relationship between the form and the concept need the least amount of cultural learning associated with them. ICON signifier is perceived as resemb ling or imitating the signified (recognizably looking, sounding, feeling, tasting or smelling like it) or being similar in possessing some of its qualities (a por trait, a diagram, metaphors 82 All of the following common definitions of icon fit within Pe the degree of relatedness between the signifier and the signified of a sign. Photos (all unedited images) are not only iconic, but indexical; point by point they correspond to nature at a particular point in time. 83 Iconic sign s are highly motivated because their signifiers are highly constrained by their s ignified. T he extent to which the signified determines the signifier is high therefore the less motivated and the more learning of a convention is required. 84 Peirce consider ed 77 Universe of the Mind: A Semiotic Theory of Culture (New York: I.B. Tauris, VII XII, 1990). 78 Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: The Basics (New York: Routledge, 2002), 27. 79 Universe of the Mind: A Semiotic Theory of Culture (New York: I.B. Tauris, VII XII, 1990). 80 Daniel Chan dler, Semiotics: the Basics (New York: Routledge, 2002), 243. 81 Ibid, 244. 82 Ibid, 40. 83 Ibid, 42. 84 Ibid, 38.

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28 85 Chandler notes that pictures tend to resemble what they represent only in some respects. 86 In general, icons are also used in a sense as symbol s, i.e. a name, face, picture, edifice or a person readily recognized as having some renowned significance or embodying certain qualities. Such an icon is a singular image that represents something else of greater significance through literal or figurative meaning. They are most often associated with religious, cultural, political, or economic rank or position. 87 Vladimir Lossky and Lonid Ouspensky observe in The Meaning of Icons that throughout history, a variety of religious cultures have images, either for teaching, inspiration, worship, adoration, or ornament and aesthetics depends upon the sy stem of beliefs of that particular religion and at the time of practice. 88 The development of icons in contemporary society reveals a set of values that portray a reverence for pop culture and cultural ideals: Hollywood figures such as Elvis, long standing cultural places such as Rockefeller Center or resilient corporate brands such as Coca Cola have all been identified as iconic. Particular images or works by specific artists and their modes of representation sie the Riveter ad campaign, associated or suggested meanings. T he associations and meanings of icons change with the development and evolution of cultures. It is important to n ote the historical us e of icons as images that communicate a religious significance and indicate value s for reverence, otherness and sacredness. These valued objects are made separate from the human world, occupying a representational presence that can be accessed within the human world through such material images, but are in fact not of this world and hold a place of elevation that exists within the imagination, a place that resides in both faith and fantasy. Its relevance is to culture and representation though its use is distinctive within religious doctrine to represent entities that do not have a physical or material presence. SYMBOL signifier does not resemble the signified but wh ich is arbitrary or purely conventional so that the relationship must be learnt (such as the word 'stop', a 89 Symbolic signs are unmotivated because the concepts they represent are not tightly associated with thei r form. The less motivated the sign, the more cultural learning of a convention is required. 90 Its relevance is to culture and representation, though its use is distinctive within 85 Ibid, 39. 86 Ibid, 39. 87 Vladimir Lossky, Lonid Ouspensky, The Meaning of Icons ( Yonkers. New York: SVS Press, 1999). 88 Idem. 89 Daniel Chandler Semiotics: the Basics (New York: Routledge, 2002), 38. 90 Ibid, 40.

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29 religious doctrine to represent entities that do not have a physical or mater ial presence. IV. Cultural and Ecological Performances I. Urban ecology: Despite an abundance of research in urban ecology, the study of the interaction of cultural and ecological processes has been limited. 91 While the planning fields are still based in a sci entific approach, 92 one that is founded in 93 culturally influenced landscape ideals should be accounted for. 94 Nina Marie Lister posits that too much nature modeling in urban landscapes deprives these environments of the potential amalgamation of culture and nature. Urban landscapes are heavily influenced by a multitude of factors. Varying densities of people and vegetation, topography, water sources and microclimates, architectural and infrastructural forms all interact to create a landscape la yered with cultural, ecological and spatial meaning. The act of garden making is a process inherently molded by human expression and interpretation. 95 As a result, centuries old ideas of the sublime and the pastoral continue to be represented through the d esign of public urban park spaces, perpetuating cultural ideals of nature as neat and orderly. 96 The literature that addresses the interaction of cultural and ecological systems in the production of new environments sits at the crossroads of several discipl ines, all of which utilize a distinct language in their treatment of both nature and culture. These fields include landscape architecture, urban ecology, urban planning and cultural geography. Much of the urban ecological literature integrating human and n on human systems has been produced through the collaborations of urban ecologists and urban planners with the specific purpose of slowing ecological and evolutionary change through the better understanding of shared energy systems. 97 The social and biologic al sciences have largely studied human and ecological processes as separate circumstances. 98 Literature from the field of urban ecology has generally held fast to the methodologies of the biological sciences, while emphasizing the need for improved integra tion of both social and ecological sciences in order to better understand complex urban systems. C.S. Holling viewed dynamic ecosystem development whereby living 91 Austral Ecology 31, no. 2 (2006): 114 125. 92 Nina (eds.), Large Parks (Princeton NJ: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007),37. 93 Ibid, 39. 94 Recoverin g Landscape : Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture ( New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 9. 95 John Dixon Hunt, Greater Perfections: The Practice of Garden Theory ( Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), 76. 96 Gina Crandel l, Nature Pictorialized : "The View" In Landscape History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993), 161 170. 97 Alberti BioScience vol. 53, no.12 (2003): 8. 98 Ibid, 9.

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30 systems evolved unpredictably and discontinuously, with regeneration or reorganization occurri ng in response to disturbance events. 99 The language of urban ecology has attempted to redefine urban environments in a way that inserts humans and their urban landscapes into ecosystems that are much larger and complex than the bounds of the city itself. influenced ecology of these environments. The nature of this language bridges between ecology and culture: terminology such as mosaics, patches and corridors are adaptable in describing such urban ecological fabric. While this integration and acknowledgement in the field is certainly a step in the right direction, there are complications with the use of such language. By inserting humans into terminology applied to ecological models which are systems assumed to be reproducible, predictable and pre determined, such language implies that that the interactions of human and non human processes result in dynamics that exhibit these same qualities. Regardless, differences in the use of language to describe integrated systems also exist within the field of urban are among the terminology used by ecologists to describe the ecosystems of urban environments. 100 II. Urban planning: Urban planning literature addresses environmental planning and the temporal adaptation of urban spaces through the lenses of land use, transportation planning and u rban renewal. In terms of this research, pertinent literature focuses on the production of space, revitalization of neighborhoods, rezoning and reuse of urban landscapes. There are several classic texts that are The Death and Life of Great American Cities Image of the City Both texts are instrumental at identifying elements and qualities of cities that create vibrant urban spaces that function over the course of time and create environments that are resilient to change. More recent texts such as The American City: What Works and What Doesn't have addressed fundamental problems with traditional planning approaches that have contributed to the decline of many American cities. Ideas about the role an ever present theme in city planning. From an economic standpoint, they can shape and energize neighborhoods, driving new development and generating sales and property taxes for the city. The economic a rgument has often outweighed the other many benefits of park development that may be more difficult to quantify. Regardless, a paradox exists in regards to the potentials for species diversity in the city. While city c onditions may suggest lower rates of v egetative diversity; large expanses of impermeable surfaces, air pollution and 99 Sustainable Development of the Biosphere (Cambridge, U.K: Cambridge University Press,1986). 100 Alberti BioScience vol. 53, no.12 (2003): 8. Hough, Michael. Cities and Natural Process London ; New York : Routledge, 1995.

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31 intensified wind and heat may imply an environment with diminished conditions for viable habitat. But urban ecologists of the last fifteen years have come to understand the urba n environment as both highly altered and ecologically 101 This diversity has been studied through the development of urban plant ecological research. The integratio n of the urban design discipline with plant ecology can provide opportunities for understanding vegetative habitat within the city while creating opportunities for design projects as ecological research. 102 101 American Scientist 88 (2000): 422. 102 S. T. A. Pick Austral Ecology 31, no. 2 (2006): 114 125.

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32 CHAPTER 5 LANDSCAPE AS IDEA The Four Natures In Recovering Landscape and artifact, it has the capacity to critically engage the metaphysical and political going project, an enterprising venture that enriches the cultural world through creative effort and is not simply a reflection of culture but more an active instrument in t he shaping 103 This observation speaks to the active agency of landscape, the historical context of landscape. a n amalgamation of both nature and culture. The intention in this chapter is to ed the perception of landscape. The attitudes and movements that have fed the nature culture dialectic will be add ressed in the subsequent paragraphs. While Corner is means of examining the ways that the reception of nature is pre conceived, before the experience of a site. This pre history is built in part by the cultural and familiarity with the subject matter. 104 How landscape is c onstructed in the minds of its audience is a matter of 105 imply an evolving c onversation between historical meanings and how meanings are reinforced or challenged through the experience of contemporary landscapes. Historical ideas about nature have also been influenced by the manufacturing of language developed by groups with diffe ring objectives. Language is an intentional device that has been used to be the same, but the fact that language is a symbolic representation of the subject makes it an obj ect constructed by cultural relationships. According to considered all language as symbolic, the actual relationship between the language that pertains to the object and the object itself has a completely arbitrary relati onship; the relationship between the signified (the concept of nature) and the signifier (the language used to describe it ) constitute s the sign. Pierce contended that because this relationship between 103 Recovering Landscape : Essays in Contemporary Lan dscape Architecture ( New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 1. 104 Susan Herrington Landscape Journal 25 (March 2006): 32. 105 Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning (Washingto n, D.C.: Island Press, 1991), 24 49.

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33 the signifier and signified has no resemblance, the re lationship must be learned. 106 The contemporary understanding of nature is complex and through the medium of language, landscape is re presented and re translated in a variety dem onstrate how language has played a role in the historical and cultural development of meanings regarding nature in the U.S. Since the middle of the 16 th century, nature has been symbolically separated into three realms, each inferring a different cultural treatment. The three categories vary between scales of human intervention in the physical landscape. John Dixon Hunt illuminates these three categories of landscape first defined during the Renaissance: 107 i. 'First nature' being unmediated nature and wildern of both the raw materials of human industry and the realm of the gods. ii. agriculture, infrastructure, and urban development. These are places where humans have al tered the environment for the purposes of human habitat and survival. 108 iii. Hunt conscious re presentation of first and second natu 109 The term culture 110 In the U.S. these relationships have varied greatly over the last 200 years due to the dynamic shifts i n cultural movements and values and have driven a reverence for nature and wildness where it exists outside of second a nd third natures. Alternatively, great efforts have been made to domesticate wildness where it exists within the realms of second and third natures which can be seen through the development of the High Line Despite the varying degrees of human interventi on that occur within the realms of first, second and third natures in the landscape, a distinct separation has been built between nature and humans through modes of representation 106 Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: The Basics (New York: Routledge, 2002), 243. 107 John Dixon Hunt, Greater Perfections: The Practice of Garden Theory ( Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), 33 34. 108 Ibid, 59. 109 John Dixon Hunt, Greater Perfections: The Practice of Garden Theory ( Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), 63. 110 Ibid, 34.

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34 I. 1 st Nature: Wilderness i. The history of wilderness in the U.S. Cont emporary ideas about wilderness vary between the mythical and imaginary and the measureable and idealistic. The prevailing cultural assumption of the last two centuries has been driven by im aginings of wilderness as an uninhabited landscape, where the natu re ab 111 The long standing sentimentality for nature as untouched by humans has been driven by multiple cultural forces that have perpetuated dreams of remote forests and distant mountain peaks. William Cronon accoun ts the history of cultural thought underlying the objectification of nature through the settlement of America. He all the more beguiling because it seems so natural. As we gaze into the m irror it holds up for us, we too easily imagine that what we behold is Nature when in fact 112 While wildness had once been the evil that civilization needed to be protected from, by the 1862, Thoreau was likening it to the Garden of Eden. 113 and the sacredness we hold for it. William Gilpin, Edmunde Burke, and Emmanuel Kant wrote about experiencing the Sublime in the vast powerful landscapes where one could find God. 114 The sublime was not a pleasurable 115 The emotion evoked by the sublimity of wildness, the sacred context, th century due to the romantic sublime movement and the rise of primitivism, the belief that the cure to the ills of the civilized world was a return to simpler way of life, embodied in the Am erican 116 After the Civil war, wil derness became the playground for urban ideas o f er since the 19 th century, celebrating wilderness has been an activity mainly for well t o 117 The projection of class based imagination of leisure time onto the American landscape did much to shape an iconic wilderness. The Sublime became domesticated as more and more people came to sentimentalize nature spectacle the imposing mountains became named with religious conventions of worship 118 The settlement of the Frontier drove a 111 Uncommon Ground (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996), 6 9. 112 Idem. 113 Ibid, 70 71. 114 Ibid, 73. 115 Ibid, 74. 116 Ibid, 76. 117 Ibid, 78 79. 118 Ibid 79.

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35 wilderness preservation effort which coincided wi th the movement to set aside national parks and wilderness. 119 Another event that fueled the idealistic view of wilderness as uninhabited was the expulsion of the Native American tribes from their territories. This act contributed to the American view of th e frontier wilderness as unsettled and pristine, though it had been home to others. It was then conquered with mapmaking and land designations: once wilderness was mapped with boundaries, named and classified in go vernmental regulatory terms, wilderness lo s t its ruggedness and savageness. 120 The act of measuring, quantifying and distributing wilderness into systems of regulation and protection altered the symbolic meaning of wildness into something tamed and tended. Cronon contends that ideas of the sublime and frontier oriented wilderness cause us to adopt too high of a standard for what counts as 121 As a result, the symbolic representation of wilderness creates further distance for people living in a rapidly changing, technologically advanced socie ty, idealizing an idea of a relationship with nature that is not attainable. A further complication of understanding nature lies in the learned cultural representation of While the defi community of organisms within which we are the top of the hierarchy. Doubtless, our supremacy in this hiera rchy and ability to perceive control of our environments inhibits our ability to fully understand the complexity of the ecosystem of which we are a part. In The Authority of Nature Anne Whiston Spirn reflects on the ideologies that the differing roles o (a way of describing the world), ecology as a cause (a mandate for moral action) and ecology as an aesthetic (a norm for beauty) are often confused and ex network of relations has been a major contribution of ecology permitting us to see humans, ourselves, as but one part of that web. There has been a tendency, however, to move directly from these insights to prescription and proscription, citing ecology as an authority in much the same way that nature was employed in the past to derive laws for 122 second n 123 ii. Ecology as a science (a way of describing the world) 124 Through taxonomy and other methods of classification and measurement hysically is named and 119 Ibid, 75. 120 Uncommon Ground (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996), 79. 121 Ibid, 87. 122 Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991), 37. 123 Idem. 124 Idem.

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36 described. Simply through the act of objectively characterizing something, those objects are disassociated from the entity doing the classifying, eliminating the relationship that exists between them. In The Social Creation of Nature Everenden quotes Maurice Merleau to which every scientific schematization is an abstract and derivative sign language, as is geogra phy in relation to the countryside in which we have learnt beforehand what a forest, a prairie, or a river is. To return to things themselves is to observe them before they explained, in which transacti on they ceased to be themselves and became instead functionaries in the world of social discourse. Once named and explained, they become social creations, and their primordial givenness is 125 In The Invented Landscape Frederick Turner speaks of n ature as the God with n 126 He expounds upon this ecological religion, i dentifying drive the val ues underlying the nature culture separation Two of these are : 127 Hom eostasis is a basic feature of n ature where balance is restored after disturbance and n altered. where humans are evil with an unnatural presence in the world. The language of urban ecology has attempted to redefine urban environments in a way that inserts humans and their urban landscapes into ecosystems that are much larger and co mplex than the bounds of the city itself. 128 the manner in which a mixed urban ecology is conceptualized. While the acknowledgement of this integration may be a step in the right direction, there are complications with the use of such language. By applying the terminology of ecological modeling to humans it is inferred that such hybrid systems may be predicted, con trolled and reproduced. II. 2 nd Nature: Cultivated Landscape i. 129 a mandate for moral action and the e nvironmentalist religion 125 Neil Evernden, The Social Creation of Nature (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 110. 126 Frederick Turner, The Invented Landscape (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 38. 127 Ibid, 39. 128 Michael Hough, Cities and Natural Process (New York: Routledge, 1995). 129 Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991), 37.

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37 Modes of thinking regarding ecology as a mandate for moral action can be viewed through the lens of second nat ure. It is through the critical discussion of our own habitats and productive landscapes that we create idealized visions of ominous black and rusting steel structures stand massi ve and alone in the landscape. Barbed wire fence and heavily bolted locks delineate gated entrances. Once the source of employers of hopeful immigrants and new residents of rapidly growing cities, these post industrial landscapes of vast scale have become a symbol of blight and economic disparity in their vacancy. Other infrastructural structures speak to the immense impact of moving freight and people in and out of the city each day. The development of these utilitarian and infrastructural structures of t he Modernist era did not often r eflect aesthetics. They are frequently situated on the banks of waterways, making them prime real estate for a subsequent type of industry, high end mixed use and residential redevelopment. Because of this, they quickly iden tified and planned for redevelopment, though the scale of the development often entails a significant magnitude of time, time during which the site sits vacant, scraped or partially excavated. Our postmodern response to the abuses of the land can be unders tood as denial, perhaps a stage of cultural grief for the loss of a once rich landscape. Such activity further admonishes humans for their cultivation of the land, reinforcing the need to prevent such abuses in places designated and Tw entieth century environmentalism reinforces this: if we keep people out of wilderness, than those places will remain intact and will retain biodiversity, 130 Wilderness has also been established culturally as an ecological ideal where strategies are used to place nature in select places with the purpose of functioning in particular Existing ecological strategies have simply put ecology in the city rather than engagin g it in larger systems and in a more holistic 131 ecologist collaboration is complex and has complications design aims to implement intentions and interventions while ecology is looking to measure using a theor etical framework 132 ii. for 133 Productive landscapes and meeting human habitat need s The language of urban planning has addressed the role of nature in human environments and the adaptation of urban spaces over ti me through the lenses of land use, transportation planning and urban renewal. City planning 130 Uncommon Ground (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996), 82. 131 Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates : Reconstructing Urban Landscapes edited by Anita Berrizbeita (New Haven, Conn. ; Londo n : Yale University Press, 2009): 257. 132 Ibid, 258. 133 Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991) 37.

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38 efforts focus on the production of space, revitalization of neighborhoods, rezoning and reuse of urban l andscapes. Neil Everenden notes al realm or a stock of unused lumber, but either way, it is able to serve a social function. It is, in that sense, never itself but always ours inevitable one, to sub sequently construe nature as the source itself. Yet nature is not the well, but the bucket, and a leaky one at that. We can certainly know the concept nature ; as a container, it is ours completely. But the contents can never be known as encountered in ex perience if we begin with a denial of experience. Indeed, we might say that it is through the dismissal of direct imposition of the social abstraction called nature and the But how are we to have any experience of non objectified nature if, as social beings, we are inevitably 134 The treatment of nature as a source for health and wellness permeates our contemporary culture. Ther e has been an increased emphasis for the development of parks on the part of municipal and federal entities with the goal of the development of parks for the specific use preferences of a community. In addition, the amelioration of urban climate conditions and microclimates is a significant result of the incorporation of vegetative living systems into urban landscapes. 135 Ideas an underlying driver in city planning. From an economic standpoint, they can shape and energize neighborhoods, driving new development and generating sales and property taxes for the city. More often than not, the economic argument has taken a front seat to the other aspects of park development that may be more difficult to quantify. Corner addresses the economy of landscape: conomic development interests), landscape is increasingly sought for its unique and intrinsic characteristics its scenery, history, and ecology. Whether as theme park, wilderness area, or scenic drive, landscape has become a huge, exotic attraction unto i 136 137 134 Neil Evernden, The Social Creation of Nature (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 110. 135 Anne Whiston Spirn, The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design (New York: Basic Books, 1984). 136 Alexander Wilson, The Culture of Nature: North American Landscape from Disney to the Exxon Valdez (Cambridge, Mass:Blackwell, 1992). 137 Recovering Landscape : Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture ( New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 9.

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39 The commodification of nature that occurs as a result of park building further alters the face of a n eighborhood. Human systems shape these landscapes through cultural agency while spatial meanings are produced through a set of societal values and mores. 138 In Recovering Landscape Corner refers to two key observations about the perception and reception of l andscape as it pertains to productive landscapes within its cultural context. As observed by tourist marketing campaigns, contemporary representations of landscape typically invoke idealized images of countryside devoid of modern technology, 139 He also 140 an assertion supported by Jean Francois u have to lose your feeling of 141 the awareness of the built environment in order to sense the constructs of nature. There are broader implications to this assumption because it again asserts a passive role to nature and an active role to humanity. III. 3 rd The Garden: Nature and Imagination i. Ecology as an aesthetic, a norm for beauty 142 During the 16 th century, the concept of third nature arose in order to distinguish the human des ign of landscapes which differed from the second nature of cultivated landscapes and the first world of unmediated nature or wilderness. 143 This third n pre sented a metaphorical and imaginative plac e for people to express and explore their ideas about nature. Throughout history, gardens have been created 144 Alternatively, ecology as a concept, as a norm for beauty, and as an ideology driving a style of landscape design has garden making is a process inherently molded by human expression and 145 As a result, centuries old ideas of the sublime and the pastoral continue to be represented through the design of public park spaces, perpetuating cultural ideals of nature as neat and orderly. 146 What is further problematic is that the ecological models tha t have been simulated through the 138 Henri LeFebvre, "Social Space", in The Production of Space (Blackwell Publishers, Cambridge, 1991), 68 128. 139 Recovering Landscape : Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture ( New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 8 140 Raymond Williams, The City and the Country (Oxford:Oxford University Press, 1973), 36. 141 Jean Francois Lyotard, The Inhuman trans. Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby (Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 1991), 189. 142 Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991), 37. 143 John Dixon Hunt, The Afterlife of Gardens (Philadelphia, Pa.: Universi ty of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 43. 144 Ibid, 53. 145 John Dixon Hunt, Greater Perfections: The Practice of Garden Theory ( Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000),16. 146 Gina Crandell, Nature Pictorialized : "The View" In Landscape History (Baltim ore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993).

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40 sublime and pastoral were not ecotypes at all but landscapes that had already been altered by the human hand of preceding native cultures. By looking at ecology as a model for design, landscape architects conceal the role of humans in the formation of what that landscape looks like, falsifying the qualities of the 147 ecotypical models, it is always laden with cultural values through human decision m aking, selective editing and the communication of aesthetic or ideological Nature and natural are among the words landscape architects and ecologists use most frequently to justify their designs or to evoke a sense of go odness but they rarely examine or express precisely what the words mean to them and they are genuinely ignorant of the ideological 148 In effect, what is occurring is a translation of selective ecological values into aesthetic values J oan Nassauer is critical of aestheticized ecological values in Messy Ecosystems, Orderly Frames Americans appreciate today is more closely related to an 18 th century concept of the picturesque and the beautiful than it is to the understanding of ecological function. 149 The cultural concept of picturesque nature produces a landscape that looks cared for, not wild. It enters the recognizable system of landscape form with powerful symbols that work beside neatness to repre sent human 150 An obvious comparison to exemplify this is between the Park de Buttes Chaumont and Central Park. Hunt notes that while a landscape such as Buttes Chaumont builds a fantasy which is both influential and apparent, Central Park offers an illusion of wilderness that is more powerful for having less obvious production. 151 Hunt also speaks about the pervasive quality of landscape to reference other places, ideas and events through a site. He refers to this as re presentation because of the r epeated use of these references and notes that the understanding of these texts enhances the experience of them. 152 Through the many readings of cultural signs and signifying practices, landscape architecture has a powerful role in asserting new meanings or perpetuating the historical discourse. But while Hunt observes that the literary text has no ability to respond conceived notions of what it is, a nd how they experience and respond to it. 153 147 Susan Herrington Landscape Journal 25 (March 2006): 22 37. 148 Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 19 91), 33. 149 See Gina Crandell, Nature Pictorialized : "The View" In Landscape History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993). Landscape Journal 6(1988): 1 12. S .K. Robinson, Inquiry into the Picturesque (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991). nnesota, 1992. 150 Landscape Journal 14 (1995): 163. 151 John Dixon Hunt, The Afterlife of Gardens (Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 50. 152 John Dixon Hunt, Greater Perfections: The P ractice of Garden Theory ( Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), 76. 153 Ibid, 16.

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41 or modeling of natural and cultural worlds. 154 For the High Line, this included strategies within the site design which were botanical, sculptural, aquatic and spatial. ii. The High Line as virtual reality: the use of myth and metaphor The integration of the na tural and cultural worlds into the space of third nature often employs the use of other literary devices such as myth and metaphor. Hunt notes that one of landscape architectures least explored qualities of both organic and inorganic materials with a deliberate creation of fictive worlds into whose inventions, systems and mythological or metaphorical languages we 155 As a virtual reality th e authors of the High Line created a myth of the wild. FHL represented to the public something of a Brigadoon type fiction. The idealized wild that only existed in their imaginations and not in urban park spaces became the alternative reality that already existed but was inaccessible The fairy tale was further enhanced by the artistic representation, media and marketing of while the use of metaphor in describing the space built a reception pre history in Yorkers dream about opening their closet and there being a secret room on the I viewed 156 and feeling that it is a special zone is demarcat ed by the distinct qualities of its entrance. 157 Then the experience is sustained by the immediate understanding of the designed space, its order, its purpose. He references the existence of a theatrical metaphor which leads the visitor from one place to ano ther, building a 158 In this way, the garden literally becomes theatre, a place where people are staged through the design strategies of aesthetics. Com parisons may be made with the experience of a zoo; the removal of interactions with the subject and the framing of particular views and experiences create an atmosphere of spectatorship, one that eliminates any possibility of active participation in the sp ace. And by creating a theatrical and virtual realm, the visitors also assume character roles other than who they are in reality. In The Iconography of Landscape Denis Cosgrove and Stephen Daniels trong as its imaginary 154 Ibid, 45. 155 Hunt John Dixon Hunt, Greater Perfections: The Practice of Garden Theory ( Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), 38. 156 New York V oices: Joel Sternfeld http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNzr7g8FQgk (Accessed 12.1.11) 157 Hunt, John Dixon 200 4. The Afterlife of Gardens. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press. 40 158 Ibid, 41 42

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42 159 Like the painters of the American Wilderness, the metaphorical language used about the wild High Line creates the myth of nature that holds particular idealistic characteristics. These learned qualities are a production o f human thought and imagination, ideas that are developed in an alternative mode to visual representations such as photography, drawing, or painting. Because of its symbolic nature, language has the power to create unique interpretations on the part of the individual human imagination. Through linguistic signs, the High Line reveals a contemporary reverie for nature in the city. This romanticism and longing for wildness that is repeatedly re imagined through the use of metaphors adapted from popular fairy t ales and fictional narratives recently adapted into the minds of adults through Hollywood film production. Since the inception of efforts to preserve the space, the the Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings tales, all suggesting alternative realities based in childhood fictions. This alternative reality has been written about in the popular media and reiterated by Joel Sternfeld and representatives of Friends of the High L ine. Such metaphorical representation is 160 Conversely, this virtual reality of a mythical garden was being built around a wild nature that was all but inaccessib le except to those who built the myth, including Friends of the High Line, the influential supporters of the preservation effort and the media journalists who now had a romantic subject to write about subsequent to the tragedy of the 9 11 World Trade Cente r attack. But it was Sternfeld who was the catalyst for transforming the corridor of messy weeds into a mythical enchanted prairie in the sky: in a YouTube interview that was released shortly before the Section 1 opening, Sternfeld described his experience coming upon the space as a wild landscape when he photographed it in 1999 through the keyhole and suddenly you are in another world that you never knew 161 Following are select ions from a feature article for the New York Times, journalists to conjure dreams through metaphorical poetics: 162 the happily ever a fter at Central Park, something akin to Alice in Wonderland ... through the we I ducked through a hobbit size door in the door he punched in his back wall three years ago, and boom there we 159 Denis Cosgrove and Stephen Daniels, The Iconography of Landscape ( Cambridge: University Press, 1988), 1. 160 Hunt, John Dixon 2004. The Afterlife of Gardens. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press. 37. 161 com/watch?v =lNzr7g8FQgk (accessed December 12, 2011). 162 See Appendix for Table of metaphorical language used to chronicle the mythical wild High Line.

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43 were, on the High L ine a moment that felt like stepping through the back eye view of the city, exactly, he wrote, but something rarer, the view of a lesser angel: of a Cupid in a Renaissance 163 In many respects, the mythical representation of the abandoned High Line built a pre text for what the public was to anticipate from the experience and for public was limited to the illusion created by what they read and the imagery they viewed. While longing for the myth, they were provided instead with the spectacle t hat is the simulated wilderness of the contemporary park design. Neil Everenden talks about the implications of exerting too much control of non human processes extinguish wild othern ess even in the imagination. As a consequence, we are effectively alone, and must build our world solely of human artifacts. The more we come to dwell in an unexplained world, a world of uniformity and regularity, a world without the possibility of miracle s, the less we are able to encounter 164 iii. 4 rd Nature: Nature and cultural systems as hybri d ecologies Some contemporary landscape theorists argue that over the course of the landscape of greater scale and complexity. This fourth nature encompasses the following qualit ies: 165 fuse natural and and controlled, the ecologies are amplified or manufactured with the intent of augmentin g performance and responsiveness, controlling the flow of resources, monitoring data or but positions within a spectrum of mediation and man ipulation of nature, landscape and 163 Adam NY Magazine 29 April 2007, http://nymag.com/print/?/news/features/31273/ (accessed December 12, 2011). 164 Neil Evernden, The Social Creation of Nature (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univers ity Press, 1992), 1 16. 165 University of Waterloo, Canada http://www.architecture.uwaterloo.ca/fourthnatures /about fourth natures.html (accessed 2 .10.12).

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44 Within this realm of thinking about nature and city, there has been a rise in architects, landscape architects, urban planners and ecologists looking at how talysts for organizing and defining the constructed environment, proposing scenarios in which the boundaries of built and unbuilt, mediated and natural are growing ever more complex and 166 Recent theory has also bee n developed by Bruno Latour wh o: first, the increasing proliferation of hybrids mixing nature (the physical, second, the recurrent tendency of purific ation, which attempts to reinforce the epistemological separation of nature from culture, object from subject. At the very moment in history, in other words, that the science wars seem to pit objectivity against subjectivity, the evidence of complicated in tertwinings between the two realms seems unmistakable. The contention is that objectivity and subjectivity are modern myths that support a whole host of questionable dualisms, many of which refer 167 This fou rth nature is readily exemplified in the ignored, abandoned spaces of our contemporary cities. Obsolete infrastructural networks and vacant post industrial spaces of the modernist movement have become sites of opportunity for hybrid ecologies. These spaces which exist within the systematic us of the culturally based perception of failures associated with neglect, including 168 I n this sense, neglect is perceived in spaces when the orderliness of a specific human intention can not be ascertained, 169 even thoug h non human processes are an integral part of ecological succession and the agency of nature to act on and remediate the site As a result, there is frequently pressure to make use of the space through its redevelopment, largely halting any further successional processes that would progress the space into true habitat which could sustain a degree of biodiversity. 170 The wild garde n that develops in spaces that are vacant and built within cultural contexts, but each have both a profound and conflicting influence upon the people who experience these spaces The objectification of nature occurs through each aspect of the concepts of the four natures: it sets up hierarchical orders among social gro 166 University of Waterloo, Canada http://www.architecture.uwaterloo.ca/fourthnatures /about fourth natures.html (accessed 2.10.12). 167 Bru no Latour, Pandora's Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999). 168 American Scientist 88 (2000): 422. 169 L andscape Journal 14 (1995): 164. 170 American Scientist 88 (2000): 422.

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45 everyday place or milieu. It is in this deeper sense that landscape as place and milieu may provide a more substantial image than that of the distanced scenic veil, for the structures of place help a community to establish collective meaning and identity. 171 As members of an ecosystem and residing at th e top of the hierarchy, it may seem unnatural for humans to actively think about urban environments as complex systems that are simultaneously both human and non human. But despite complex infrastructural networks, t hese landscapes continue to respond to n umerous sets of stimuli that are both biotic and abiotic in character. While the city is a heavily proscribed environment made up of the highest densities of people, architecture and infrastructure, it remains a dynamic product of nature. 171 Recovering Landscape : Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture ( New York: Princeton Architectural Pr ess, 1999), 11 12.

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46 CHAPTER 6 T RANSFORMATION: BUILDING A RECEPTIVE HISTORY OF SITE in The City: The High Line as An Expression Of Human and Non Human Processes Over Time The purpose of this chapter is to develop a reception history of the High Line and to build an understanding of the site as a palimpsest. The layers of this palimpsest have been built and intertwined by processes that are not solely controlled by humans. Any site, whether it be first, second, third or fourth nature is touched by the human hand i n some way, just as it is touched by non human ecological forces. These interactions are always at play on a site and work to develop new relationships and changing qualities of landscape amongst hybrid ecosystems. The intent here is to describe the evolut ion of these processes in a way that allows an understanding of how these processes responded over the course While this section provides a historical account of cultural m ovements in flux, the goal is to consider the development of the High Line as a physical element of a complex habitat whose role changes within the context of spatial contention. Throughout the research that I have conducted, there has been selective editi ng transportation system and abandoned space. If any signifying practice symbolized a true repugnance for the structure, it was the iconifying o f the space through Joe and removal of every biotic and abiotic process on the site. This chapter will explore the High Line and the Chelsea neighborhood as a habitat responding to environmental conditions and ope also explore the relationships between the establishment of non human ecosystems in urban environments and the resulting cultural changes that occur over time. By constructing a narrative that recognizes the h uman and non human processes of the site a more extensive receptive history may be illuminated, providing a richer understanding of the dynamic forces that have and continue to act on the High Line. 172 Throughout its history, the High Line has functioned as a sign, exhibiting varying degrees of relationships between what it is and its meaning. This can be attributed to the multiplicity of context that the space experienced through its cultural history. According to Semiotician Daniel can c hange the mode of classification. Signs can not be classified in terms of the three modes without reference to the purposes of their uses within particular contexts. 172 R esearch completed as part of the Mannahatta Project shows that the island was an extremely diverse place at the Yellowsto ne. Despite the known ecological history of the place as one dense with trees and streams, this chapter does not aim to evaluate the development of the ecology over time, but the responses of people to conditions within their own habitat and the non human processes that respond accordingly. See Eric W. Sanderson Sanderson, Eric. Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City. Abrams Books. 2009.

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47 A sign may be treated as symbolic by one person, iconic by another and indexical by a thir 173 Similarly, a sign can be a symbol, an icon and an index: 174 The park map of the High Line is a good example of this: it is indexical in identifying the physical locations of elements, it is iconic in representing the directional relations and distances between landmarks, and it is symbolic because it uses symbols whose meaning must be learned. Chandler further 175 Such transient and unique qualities of sign systems parallel tenets of Reception Theory as it pertains to interpretations of a landscape. Cultural ed, allowing for it to be perceived with differing meanings and as all three modes of index, icon and symbol in each of its historical periods. At the time of its initial construction as transportation infrastructure it was a symbol of modernism, of the ab ility of humans to o vercome nature with technology and a symbol of urbanization. Concurrently as icon it represented the overcoming of site adversity, New Deal economics, and city building. As index the High Line exemplified shipping industry efficiency, s afety for citizens and a traffic sorting system. After abandonment by the railroad, the High Line became contested devolving post industrial status, the rise of the automobi le industry, and the post modern era. Its presence became iconic of the inefficiencies of government planning, the social fragmentation and upheaval that was occurring in the neighborhoods and playing out in through the rise of illicit sub cultures. It was also iconic of the demise of the railroad industry. During this time, its indexical characteristics marked it as a cultural wilderness and derelict space as a drug haven. Its physical presence in the landscape made it a barrier between the community of Ch elsea and the Hudson River. The contemporary High Line as preserved and redeveloped park has building. It is a symbol of the vested economic interests and hegemonial power of development over lower inc ome communities. It symbolizes the domestication of nature even through the ingenuity of FHL and post modern ideology. As an icon the High Line represents an aestheticized simulation of wild nature represented in a Picturesque style, representing nature as a metaphorical spectacle in this way. The park is indexical through its function as a re use design and promenade spurring urban renewal.

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48 I. Pre Development Conditions (1900 1930 ) Shaping a Human Habitat From the mid 19th century until the early 20th century, Manhattan was undergoing rapid urbanization and its West Side was a frenzied area of commercial and residential activity and circulation. Much of this conflict arose as a authorization of street level railroad tracks. 176 Cars, pedestrians, horse drawn carts, and freight rail lines all competed for space to move within the same travel corridors. By 1890, the shoreline had already been tr ansformed into a linear tract of land for marine oriented commerce through land fill deposition and pier construction. 177 Passenger ships docked at terminals such as Chelsea Piers, creating hubs for further masses of people to gather and disseminate. With so many types of uses together in the same area, it is no wonder that use conflicts arose, to the detriment of the community. So numerous were the accidents occurring between freight trains and street level traffic that the trains waving red flags as a warning to people crossing the rail corridor. By the 1870s, the community had become outraged over environm ent al conditions caused by the at grade railroad traffic. Smoke, fumes and soot permeated the air as the rumbling noise of the heavy steel cars mixe d with a growing urban population The use of crossing guards was instituted 24 hours a day. While these dan gerous conditions persisted until after WWI, the power of the railroad 500 years. 178 By 1900, about 250 meatpacking plants and slaughterhouses prospered in the area 179 Chelsea has a long history as a diverse but cohesive community, championing for a better quality of life s ince the early Progressive Era. Characteristics of progressivism included a favorable attitude toward urban industrial society, belief in mankind's ability to i mprove the environment and co nditions of life. 180 As a result, in 1908 the c ongestion of commercial traffic led 176 http://www.thehighline.org/about/high line history (accessed January 12, 2012). 177 Daniel Walsh. Reconnaissance Mapping of Landfills in New York City. National Groundwater Association. http://info.ngwa.org/gwol/pdf/910155209.PDF (Accessed 3.25.12) 392. 178 Design Trust for Public Space, Reclaiming the High Line 45, http://www.designtrust.org/pubs/01_Reclaiming_High_Line.pdf (Accessed 2.10.2012). 179 Last of the Pack AMNY, http://www.amny.com/urbanite 1.812039 /last of the pack inside the beefy h eart of the meatpacking district 1.1753483 (accessed January 30, 2012). 180 Maureen Flanagan, America Reformed: Progressives and Progressivisms, 1890s 1920s (London: Oxford University Press, 2007). Society

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49 e the League to end Death Avenue. Between 1911 and 1925, several models for an elevated multi transport corridor were presented though consideration of any of them was delayed until after World War I. Between 1905 and 1940, the population of Chelsea decrea sed rapidly as residential housing was replaced by business. 181 Finally, in 1929 after more than 50 years of public debate about the hazard, the City and State of New York and the New York Central Railroad agree d on the West Side Imp rovement Project, which i ncluded an elevated rail line. The entire project was 13 miles long and eliminated 105 street level railroad crossings. It also added 32 acres to Riverside Park. The project cost over $150 million in 1930 dollars (more than $2 billion today). 182 According t o Donathan Salkaln, member of the Chelsea Reform Titanic not sunk. Pier 60 (at 11th Ave and 19th St Titanic, a potential catalyst for early efforts of u rban renewal. Instead, Chelsea Piers ( built in 1907 ) and handling much of Trans Atlantic luxury passenger lines until 1935 became the destination for survivors via the RMS Carpathia. He likens the neighborhood of Chelsea to the survivors of the Titanic: 183 has the force of discrimination. Industries of railroad, warehousing, trucking, passenger shipping, manufacturing, and riots, have stormed through its streets, leaving behind generations o f those left in the wake. The last relic of the railroad industry is now the High Line, the docks that served luxury liners are now parks, and the giant warehouses have been converted into art galleries, offices, and condos. Historic Districts and strong z oning laws have kept a good portion of our neighborhood in the sunlight, but those laws are continually challenged, as is affordable housing, and our and Clement Clark Moore have grown in to strong roots of passion. Local block associations, planning boards, community groups, and politicians have since been diligent in embracing and improving 181 Chelsea Reform Democratic Club Website http://crdcnyc.org /Websites/CCtest/Images/History/New Chelsea_History_ Timelime.pdf (accessed February 10, 2012). 182 Idem. 183 Idem.

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50 II. Active Use By The Railroad (1934 1960) Hig h Line as Infrastructure Symbol: Overcoming nature with technology, Modernist ideology, rise of urbanization Icon: Overcoming site adversity, New Deal economics, citybuilding Index: Emphasis on shipping industr y efficiency, citizen safety traffic sor ting system The High Line was designed to be efficient as a system as well as sensitive to the gridded city plan. It ran through the center of blocks rather than across avenues, connecting to the warehouses and factories the freight line serviced withou t the negative conditions of elevated subways. 184 185 In 1934, t he High Line was operational, running at Spring Street, transporting milk, meat, produce, and raw and manufactured goods. Once built, the High Line pr oject was praised 186 The structure that was fabricated as an infrastructure corridor at 29 feet above grade was supported by 475 columns with art deco steel framing, reinforced concrete some areas, allowing for rail tracks to travel in both directions. Its load capacity was four fully loaded freight trains. While the High Line was being planned and built, the city landscape was changing rapidly. In 1930, plans had been submitted for Rockefeller Center, the city had started installing traffic lights, and in 1931 the Empire State building was completed. The physical nature of Moder nism had taken hold and NYC was leading the way in its efforts to use technology as the tool to create an efficient and robust urban core. This movement drove a human ambition to overcome the obstacles that faced dynamically growing urban communities and in doing so, to take control of their environments. This perspective drove the engineering feat 184 Joel Sternfeld, Walking the High Line (Stei dl: Gottingen, 2001), 57. 185 The High Line is referred to as an elevated track until the late 1980s when it becomes commonly referred to as the High Line. In an interview with Victor Hernandez (July 10, 2011), he claimed that the name originated in response to the drug activity that occurred up on the site. 186 Design Trust for Public Space, Reclaiming the High Line 45, http://www.designtrust.org/pubs/01_Reclaiming_High_Line.pdf (accessed 2.10.2012). Society

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51 that was the High Line. Today, the elevation of roads, trains and other infrastructural networks in urban environments is an expected view in the horizon. In the early 1930s an elevated freight rail line running through buildings technological progress and creating better living conditions for its communities. III. Abandonment And Opportunistic Use (1960 1990) H igh Line as contested terrain, derelict space and growing medium: Symbol: Post industrial era, rise of the automobile industry, post modern era. Icon: Inefficiencies of government, social fragmentation, rise of illicit sub culture, demise of railroad indu stry Index: Wilderness/derelict space, drug haven, barrier between the community and the Hudson River The 1950s and 1960s saw the completion of the Interstate Highway System and the growth of the trucking industry, resulting in a drop in rail traffic, nat ionally and on the High Line. Despite the decrease in rail traffic, trains continued to service the area. Efforts for urban renewal and increased residential housing led to the demolition of the southernmost section. In 1962 as part of the Mitchel Lana Hou sing Program, Penn South was built. The ten building affordable housing complex had 2,820 units and was built between Eighth and Ninth Aves and 23rd and 29th Streets. It remains a diverse and affordable resource for housing in the community. The tide of so attention to the area and highlighted the powe rful efforts against sexual orientation discrimination. At the same time the cost of living in Greenwich Village had been increasing, pricing gays out of the neighborhood; socially and eth n ically diverse Chelsea welcomed the gay and lesbian community. 187 Wh ile New York City was becoming progressively more metropolitan, Urban landscape conditions had changed adjacent to the elevated track; what had been a productive corridor of a ctivity was now a shadowy and dangerous area. D of c lub goers and meatpackers as a dance, drug and sex scene emerged. The area was rampant with illicit behavior, including drug use and transactions, first heroin, then crack. Thirty feet above the street, the space was used for deviant sexual behavior, theft, prostitution and assault. There were frequent shootings beneath it while warehouse break ins and squatting was common. The cor ridor 187 Chelsea Reform Democratic Club Website http://crdcnyc.org /Websites/CCtest/Images/History/New Chelsea_History_ Timelime.pdf (accessed February 10, 2012).

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52 Line until the proliferation of drug activity in the space. 188 Victor Hernandez described the seedy conditions that developed adjacent to the High Line: mostly related to hardcore transsexual behavior; they were also drug and art havens. Artists traveled in cliques and networked through the clubs. The gang presence was evident: anti gay biker gangs would frequent the area and were extremely violent agains t the gay community. Warehouses were used illegally; buildings were completely abandoned and burned, the area was extremely dark at night. Underground art production occurred in the warehouses despite the lack of functioning lighting systems. The police wo uld not even enter the area or they would come well past the time of the criminal events. They would never go up on the High Line. The neighborhood was very well defined by sections places where you could go and places where you e community had a unified response to heavy criminal and gang activity. Neighborhoods would band together and root out those who threatened the area, whether it 189 But there were tame recreational uses too: couples often used the space and people would walk it in the evenings to watc h the sunset and the night sky. Hernandez noted the heavy regulation of the park today and that people can no longer do many of the things that were special about going up there. The previous experienc e provided an opportunity for privacy, solitude, and a long adversely limited by its hours of operation and heavy tourist crowds, preventing some of the better experiences of the spa ce. 190 During the late 1970s, early efforts to change the face of the neighborhood began with the conversion of some of the warehouse buildings into apartments. By 1985 renowned gay club Mineshaft was shuttered while ed, welcoming its diverse clientele of night carnival 191 Finally, in 1980, the last train ran on the Hig h Line, pulling three carloads of frozen turkeys. A group of property owners lobbied from 1985 1989 for the demolition of the entire structure, protesting the unsafe structural 188 Victor Hernandez, bellhop of the Hotel Chelsea and forty y ear resident of the Chelsea neighborhood (born and raised locally) described his experience of the High Line over the years. He described his experience of the High Line over the period that it was a derelict space. Mr Hernandez is currently writing a book on the history and development of the Chelsea neighborhood. He claims intimate knowledge of local comings and goings, people who inhabited, visited and spent time in the Chelsea area, as well as specific illicit behavior and events that occurred in the ne ighborhood. Mr. Hernandez was hesitant to divulge specifics about pre development High Line history due to a confidentiality agreement with the Hotel Chelsea Management, as well as his reluctance to divulge information that would be included in his book. 189 Victor Hernandez. Interview by Patsy McEntee Shaffer. New York City July 10, 2011. 190 Idem. 191 New York Times, 19 May 201, http://movies.nytimes.com/2011/05/20/movies/restaurant Florent celebrated in documentary.html (accessed March 24, 2012).

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53 conditions and its blight in the neighborhood. 192 The Chelsea Property Owners (C PO) owned land under the High Line that was purchased at prices reflecting the High Line's easement. They were required to prove that existing financing of $30 million to fund the demolition was secured prior to approval of its removal. 193 Peter Obletz, a Ch elsea resident, activist, and railroad enthusiast, challenged demolition efforts in court and tried to re establish rail service on the Line. 194 Adjacent resident o f the High Line, Patty Heffley described the space: she had 1978 eager to photograph Manhattan's punk scene. She chose her apartment because it was a place where she could make a lot of noise. The High Line was an agreeable presence. At first, a single locomotive rumbled by once or twice a week, but that eventually stopped. Weeds were growing. Ms. Heffley said she always wanted to plant flowers, but never found a way. ''I tried filling a water balloon with seeds, bu t it's farther than you think '' she said. 195 As rail traffic decreased and finally ended, so did maintenance of the rail right of way. Routine track repair and ballast reinforcement sustained a safe rail line during its active period, facilitating drainage of water, keeping the tracks securely supported and preventing vegetative growth. 196 Once the corridor was neglected, conditions developed that encouraged successional growth of plant l ife: the ballast material began to break down, expedited by the extreme microclimates relative to its location. Rail traffic had brought sediment material into the site prior to abandonment and the industrial nature of the district contributed additional s ediment particles to the environment. In addition, the site experienced exposure to high winds and precipitation off of the Hudson River, southwest exposure for sunlight, and sporadic warehouse buildings providing protection for the establishment of tree s pecies. The winds and birds deposited 192 Neighborhood Report: West Side; Fight Over Unused Rail Line The New York Times 16 May 1999, http://www.nytimes.com/1999/05/16/nyre gion/ neighborhood report west side fight over unused rail line.html (a ccessed 3.10.12). 193 Joshua David, Robert Hammond, The High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011), 10 194 Design Trust for Public Space, Reclaiming the High Line 59, http://www.designtrust.org/pubs/01_Reclaiming_High_Line.pdf (accessed 2.10.2012). 195 New York Times, 25 June, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/25/garden/25seen. html (a ccessed March 10, 2012). 196 William Hay, Railroad Engineering (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1982), 409 410. Figure 6.3 High Line guerilla gardening Credit: New York Architecture.

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54 seeds in the ballast which had become a growing medium for a variety of 161 native and non native species. 197 Under these conditions, the space quickly reminiscent of the failures associated with neglect, native and weed species, 198 which are an integral part of ecological processes of succession. Shortly before the High Line Section 1 opening, a YouTube interview with Joel Sternfeld was released. Playing up the iconic wilderness fantasy, Sternfeld the High Line is a true ruin; it plus which is nature untraveled. But in some ways, the High Line is mo re pristine than Yellowstone or Yosemite because every inch of it is authentic. Sternfeld is comparing himself to William Henry Jackson, who captured Yellowstone with photography and presented the images to Congress, leading to the preservation of the land as a National Park. He goes on to say that his photographs 199 The High Line wilderness grew over a time when Chelsea was also in a place that people inscribed meaning to. Its wild neglect and avoidance by the hegemonial guard signified the space symbolically as a site where the known social conflicts could play themselves out. But remembering a story about the human wild is not the k ind of history that a neighborhood undergoing gentrification behind the theatr ics of new park development wants to tell. While much of what has been written and talked about regarding the High Line as a redeveloped park has indicated a nostalgia for this s ecret wilderness, much of the nearly 30 years of neglect has been ignored as part of its history and redevelopment. IV. Documenting And Simulating Wild Neglect (1990 Present) High Line as Preserved and Redeveloped Park Symbol: Development over community, domesticated nature, grassroots ingenuity, post modernism 197 Richard Stalter, Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 131 no. 4 (Oct. Dec., 2 004): 388. See Appendix C for the catalogued species list of flora found on the High Line May 11, 2001. 198 American Scientist 88 (2000): 422. 199 tp://www.youtube.com/watch?v =lNzr7g8FQgk (accessed December 12, 2011). Credit: New York Architecture.

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55 Icon: Wild nature, nature as spectacle, nature in memoriam, ideological photographic representation Index: re use design urban park preferences, simulated wilderness As the Giuliani administration was nearing its end, the community was divided over the preservation or demolition of the High Line, with the majority of the landowners adjacent to the structure in support of its demolition. By the mid 1990s the face of the neighborhood w as already changing: with the commercialization of SoHo, art galleries began to take residence in Chelsea, quickly becoming the center of the New York art world. Today more than 350 art galleries exist in Chelsea and are home to modern art from both establ ished and upcoming artists. 200 Chelsea, leading the way for the arrival of high end clothing boutiques while a former Oreo cookie factory was renovated to become Chelsea Market. With the arrival of the galleries and boutiques, the High Line began to develop new meaning. Adjacent landowners saw the structure as a detriment to their ability to maximize the value of their real estate. The rusting sooty structure and wild nature that was evident from str eet level indicated a lack of care or intention for the relic. As a result, the pressure to make use of the space through its community. Such actions in any wild environment quickly h alt any further successional processes that would eventually progress the space into true habitat. 201 William Cronon notes that there is a fundamental problem with thinking that makes h 202 This is a mode of thinki Line as a place that developed as a wilderness because of negl ect and the absence of humans, n ature is inferred a passive and benevolent role. Alternatively, the role of humans is view ed as the destroyer, controller and the exploiter. The recognition of the power and resilience of such an ecosystem is greatly underestimated. The relationship that the people of this neighborhood had with this site as a wilderness is also denied. In inter views, Robert Hammond 203 Similarly, in an interview with New York Magazine, Joel Sternfeld spoke about the mournful passing of what was his own private park for beautiful. It was perfect. It was authentic. I wish everyone could have the 204 200 "Stylish Traveler: Chelsea Girls," Travel + Leisure September 2005 http://www.travelandleisure .com /articles/stylish traveler chelsea girls september 2005 (accessed March 14, 2012). 201 J.P. Collins et a American Scientist 88 (2000): 422. 202 Uncommon Ground (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996), 69 90. 203 Joshua David, Robert Hammond, The High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011), 95. 204 Adam NY Magazine 29 April 2007, http://nymag.com/print/?/news/features/31273/ (accessed December 12, 2011).

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56 In an effort to a dvocate for the High Line's preservation and reuse as a park, FHL was founded in 1999 by two Chelsea residents, Joshua David and Robert Hammond. The two had met at a Community Board meeting where the demolition of the structure was being discussed. Since t hen, they have built a citywide constituency of High Line supporters, including more than 3,300 members and a full time staff of 30. Joshua David had lived in Chelsea since 1986, was a member of the Advisory Council of Transportation Alternatives and was a member of Manhattan Community Board No. 4 from 2000 to 2006. Robert Hammond has lived in the West Village since 1994. He had worked as a consultant for a variety of entrepreneurial endeavors and non profits, including the Times Square Alliance and Allianc e for the Arts. From 2002 to 2005 he served as an Ex Officio Trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Both men had evident knowledge of how to fundraise, garner political support and drive a media juggernaut. Some of their early efforts to drive the pre servation effort included two key representational practices. One of these was to hire Paula Scher of Pentagram Design to create a logo for the High Line. The Though Sternfel d encouraged maintaining the High Line in its 2000 2001 state, he also offered his photographs of the structure to be sold at an art auction to viaduct into a park. Since then, his photographs have routinely galv and media exposure 205 In 2001, Adam Gopnik wrote about the High Line in the New Yorker. The exposure: rk right now is a stretch fantasies in which New York has returned to the wild with an 206 That same year, the Design Trust for Public Space and FHL funded research for "Reclaiming the High Line," a planning study which created a planning framework for the High Line's preservation and reuse. By 2002, only about 36 of the over 250 original meatpackers remain ed in the area. City support was so on garnered through the passing of a City Council resolution advocating 205 New York Times 8 May 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/08/arts/design/08monc.html ( accessed June 7, 2011). 206 The New Yorker 21 May 2001, 44.

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57 for the High Line's reuse in March 2002. By October, a study done by Friends of the High Line found that the High Line project was economically feasible: new tax revenues created by th e public space would be greater than the costs of construction. The City then filed with the federal Surface Transportation Board for railbanking, making it City policy to preserve and reuse the High Line. It was during this time that a part of the Chelse a neighborhood was landmarked through the designation of the Chelsea Historic District. The following July, FHL conducted an open ideas competition, "Designing the High Line," soliciting proposals for the High Line's reuse Over 700 entries were submitted from the international design community; hundreds of them were displayed at Grand Central Terminal, an iconic representation of how the original model for the elevated railway track was presented in 1916. From March to September 2004, FHL and the City of New York conducted a process to select a design team for the High Line; that team was James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro with additional experts in horticulture, engineeri ng, security, maintenance, public art, and other disciplines. The State of New York, CSX Transportation, Inc. and the City of New York then jointly file d with the Surface Transportation Board to railbank the High Line. For a year between 1999 and 2000, S ternfeld photographed the corridor, creating a collection of imagery that would drive newspaper articles, gallery exhibits and a fundraising campaign New York Times wrote: rony is that the rest of the High Line, the one that Sternfeld photographed, the one that sparks that reliable hallelujah moment in the hearts of one goggle eyed visitor after start. Hammond and David knew that, in order to rally initial support, they had to convince people that the High Line was worth bucolic images of a n untouched pasture in the sky. 207 The wild nature that develops in spaces that are vacant and abandoned is a 208 but each have both a profound and conflicting influenc e upon the people who experience them. Those who 207 Adam NY Magazine 29 April 2007 http://nymag.com/print/?/news/features/31273/ (accessed December 12, 2011). 208 Landscape Journal 14 (1995): 161 170.

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58 experienced the wild High Line described it as an alternative reality. In 2002, Philip Connors described in a poetic article for the Wall Street Journal his experience exploring the off limits High Line: 209 treasure now mostly because it's the structure that time forgot. It beckoned because it was . green. From 23rd Street and 10th Avenue, I looked up and saw a strip of meadow in the sky. I had to get This required climbing a fence, heaping old automobile tires into a pile, scaling the pile and heaving myself onto a factory rooftop, then shimmying up steel support beams onto the tracks. Behold! The city opened like a flower, the towers of Midtown cupping the Empire State Buil ding like petals around a gleaming silver stamen... A swath of Manhattan had gone to seed, reverting to a kind of native prairie: knee high grasses, white and yellow wildflowers, a miracle born of neglect. At 30th Street, a corrugated tin barri cade blocks the way, but someone has torn a gash in it just big enough to allow a man to slip through. Recently, an artist painted a mural on the back side. In the sky are the words "save the tracks," as if written by an airplane skywriter. On the right ha nd side of the curve, going south, a sculpture collection sits on a rooftop: funky looking abstractions fashioned of multicolored hoops and painted wire mesh, like the offspring of a Slinky and a tennis ething sublime: a small garden with a tiny maple tree, a miniature pine and a patch of daisies and sunflowers. The gardener tends this lovely plot by stepping from a third floor apartment window on a plank laid across to the tracks. For a few seasons, the little pine was wreathed by a string of Christmas lights. In a shady spot where the tracks are bracketed by two old warehouse buildings, a miniature

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59 forest has risen; yet just beyond it the tracks are littered with rusty buckets, old spray paint cans (graf fiti detritus) and a lonesome looking pair of turquoise underpants. In this way the tracks are like the streets below -elegant here, grubby there -On the High Line nature has restored order to a chaotic sliver of Manhattan's West Side, and the only evi William Cronon notes a manner of thinking that makes human civilization malign and n ature benign. This is a mode of thinking that can be seen in the High Line as a place that developed as a wilderness because of neglect and the absence of humans, nature is inferred a passive role. The recognition of the power and resilience of such an ecosystem is greatly underestimated. The relationship that the people of this neighborhood had with this site as a wilderness is also denied. In interviews, Robert Hammond one went up there 210 He continues, the inches of soil. For a while it was just a torn up mess of mud and gravel and then they got it down to the bare concrete. It became a blank slate which felt liberating becau se it freed you from thinking of the HL as something to be preserved and 211 As theorized by Corner, the High Line quickly became a landscape graphy, its scenery, its elevated nature and its ability to carry on the wilderness myth. Corner remarks, become a huge, exotic attraction unto itself, a place of entertainment, fanta sy, 212 By April 2005 landscape architecture and its vision for nature on the High Line had become high art with the exhibition opening of the preliminary design by James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro at the Museum of Modern Art. Meanwhile, New York magazine had In June 2005 the Surface Transportation Board issued a Certificate of Interim Trail Use for the High Line, authorizing the City and railroad to con clude railbanking negotiations. Five months later the City took ownership of the High Line from CSX Transportation, Inc., (which donated the structure), and the City and CSX signed a Trail Use Agreement. These two actions solidified the preservation of the High Line south of 30th Street. In April 2006, the first phase of construction on Section 1 of the High Line bega n (Gansevoort Street to 20th Street) and groundbreaking was celebrated as a single rail track was lifted. Tracks, ballast, and debri s are re moved, and the tracks wer e mapped, tagged, and stored with the intent that some would be reinstalled in the design. Steel is then sandblasted and repairs made to concrete and drainage systems, and installation of pigeon deterrents underneath the Line. The scraping of all abiotic and biotic processes on the site had begun. 210 Joshua David, Robert Hammond, The High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011), 95. 211 Ibid, 96. 212 Alexander Wilson, The Culture of Nature: North American Landscape from Disney to the Exxon Valdez (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1992).

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60 In 2008 landscape construction began on Section 1, with construction and installation of pathways, access points, seating, lighting, and planting. The Whitney Museum an nounced plans for a MePa annex while local institution Florent close d In June 2008 final designs wer e released for the High Line's transformation to a public park. On June 9, 2009 Section 1 opened to the public. By this time only about eight meatpackers remained in the neigh borhood. Section 2 (West 20th Street to West 30th Street) opened to the public on June 8, 2011. In Reclaiming the High Line Elizabeth Barlow Rogers speaks of the City as a palimpsest. She notes the development of settlement in areas as responsive to geoph ysical conditions that existed in the area, then the development of urban form as the next layer transportation being important to the exchange of goods and services. She states that time is the element by which some things are dynamic and Figure 6 .9 Wi ld Relics Credit: New York Architecture. June 2003. others static. In this way, new relationships are continually being formed and transformed as these static and dynamic forces evolve. The High Line is an optimal example of this. As exhibited in this s pecific site history, human and non human processes interacted and responded at multiple scales and in numerous contexts. What is clear is that while humans may respond to phenomenological information about their environments, correcting for pollution, mic roclimate affects, aesthetics and other sensorial information, the physical presence of

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61 nature in urban landscapes remains a product of cultural movements and the methods and manners of representation supported by those cultural forces. The High Line as an artifact of the modernist era, as a medium for illicit and expressionist behavior as a garden and as a tourist attraction are all pieces of a larger receptive history of hybridized ecologies.

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62 CHAPTER 7 THE CONSTRUCTION AND PRODUCTION OF NATURE A Plac e with Multiple Meanings and Selected Interpretations: A Semiotic Analysis of Representational Practice & Operations was pleased with myself for discovering that the sun, for example, cannot be reproduced, but has to be Paul Czanne Culture is the production of all of the interpretations regarding the nature of the world common to a social group where value and meaning are semiotically represented for the benefit of the individual or group members 213 By looking at the character of semiotic relationships that can be found within the High Line and its t ransformation from an abandoned wild sp ace to a public park a deeper understanding of how we represen t, portray, interpret and valuate nature may be formed. Such awareness can aid an appreciation of the ways that meaning is 214 where there is a necess ity for relationship s to be learned. It is important to strip down the complexity of signs in order to determine their true nature: this enables us to evaluate the multiple concepts embedded in them, recognize the cultural values they communicate an d identify visual semiotician 215 Th is chapter evaluates and expounds upon the research that has been developed through the Semiotic Analysis Diagram of the High Line (Appendix A). This inventory was developed from the identification of signs and signifying practices that exist both material ly and immaterially through the development and design of the High Line. The investigation is inclusive of design elements and principles, but also of representational operations and tactics. In this way, both signs and signifying practices can be analyzed by characterizing the relationship 213 Mary LeCron Foster, and Lucy Botscharow, The Life of Symbols (Boulder: Westview Press, 1990), 1. 214 Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: The Basics (New York: Routledge, 2002), 14. 215 Ibid, 15.

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63 between each signifier and the concept that is represented. These individual sign s in the landscape convey ideas that collectively form a text for understanding the human relationship with nature. This deconstruction has identified a design narrative with pervasive representation of Picturesque ideals In addition to the physical signs in the designed landscape, s elected contexts can be recognized represe ntation as well as the edited narrative of human history that occurred T enets of 18 th century Picturesque landscape design indicated an interpretive reading of the landscape, much like painting or literature of the same era But the aesthetic mode of the genre implies an emotional response, an emphasis on the relational interpretations over the literal meanings. 216 These understanding that the lands education of its viewer; the translation of literary works was relayed through design and such visitors could understand that what the y were seeing was a staged experience Likewise, ideas about the wild nature that existed on the High articles that have been written and distributed in the media. FHL founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond concede the power of visual representation i n 217 In terms of semiotics, the image representation of the site is then understood to be only a likeness, an icon, of what the place actually is because of the tac tics and techniques of representation that occur in order to reproduce it. The reception of the High Line is also understood differently by people depending upon their individual knowledge of the neighborhood and site history a s well as their personal expe rience of wilderness. But while the early Picturesque assumed a knowledgeable viewer who was able to experience the reception of landscape from both an intellectual and phenomenological perspective, the High Line exemplifies an alternative approach. The d esign actually assumes a visitor who has little knowledge of the site history beyond the existence of the corridor as a rail line and abandoned wilderness. Such of the same informed reading and alters (and in fac t limits) the reception of nature that is acquired. Without understanding the full narrative of the High Line, the viewer understands less about the human intent of the design and the complexity of interpretation between the text and what is viewed. For th e wilderness neophyte, the High Line is an ecological stage of Picturesque inspired smoke and mirrors, 216 Susan Herrington Landscape Journal 25 (March 2006): 26. 217 Patrick Hazari, Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Designing the High Line: Gansevoort Street to 30 th Street Friends of the High Line, (USA: Finlay Printing, LLC. 2008).

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64 The table below identifies tenets of the Picturesque that have been communicated throu gh signs identified in the High Line landscape. Table 7.1 Tenets of the Picturesque 218 I. P representation The photograph is now the painting: Photographic representation of nature is the source of production for iconic relationships. R egulated/orchestrated views. II. Values for care and control Representation of nature as fragile. Evocation Human authorship is purposely masked; re controlled by humans. Preferential treatment of constructed ecosy stem: Ecotype model preference and species selection. Need to show care, nurturing for nature. Orderliness and s igns of care for nature by humans is necessary, even high levels of care, in neighborhood. III. Evokes a sense of the sublime Representations cultivate a sensibility of awe towar ds the landscape, romanticized and idealized nature. IV. Representation of the pastoral. The working landscape has to be aestheticized. An idealized vision of country life and the working landscape. The architectural landscape as pastoral. V. Manipulation of spectator views and experience. 219 Orchestration of very particular views. N ature as spectacle, theatre, entertainment. Commodification of nature. Emphasis on the social production of space. VI. Use of metaphor and literary conventions, follies and relics. The use of artifacts that would be deemed unsightly without aesthetics. The u se of narratives and myth to drive design. I. taken between 1999 and 2000 set a stage for the reception of nature but also for the expectations of viewing the landscape with Picturesque conven tions. Michael Cataldi et al. in Residues of a 218 See Chapter 4, Theore tical Foundations for the foundations of thought driving the Picturesque. Re interpretations and contributions to this theory can be found in: Susan Herrington Landscape Journal 25 (March 2006): 26 29. Landscape Journal 14 (1995): 161 170. 219 Herrington talks about the design approach of the Picturesque giving primacy to the spectator, implying the immersion of the spectator into an imaginative experience. In this thesis I will be addressing such a design of viewsheds for the visitor as a power taken away from them, making them a passive spectator in a landscape of heavily orchestrated visual practices.

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65 Dream World language play up the visual conventions of their subjects, and the use of a larger format for the High Line quotes conventions of modern la ndscape photography. These conventions are themselves dependent on the picturesque genre of 220 Figure 7.2 Joel Sternfeld: Fallen Billboard Figure 7.3 : Chelsea Grasslands November 2000 Patsy McEntee December 2011 photographs in representing the space contributes to the cultural learni ng of how the aesthetics of urban wild landscapes should be viewed. In this way, the w orking landscape must be aestheticized 221 through design and care. Art historian T. J. Clark analyzed such a transformation in post bridging a cultural divide of ideals between the industrial manufacturing industry and the pastoral rural experience. According to Clark, the figureless railway was easily represented in association with the aesthetics of the countryside and disassociated from its role in trade and transport This idea has a similar translation to Rails to Trails projects such as the High Line where the aestheticization of the labored landscape diminishes its former role in industry. These conventions affirm the use of railway artifacts and industry relics a s floating signifiers and design elements, divorced from the material conditions of 222 Views along the High Line e xhibi t qualities of the pastoral abundantly more than the sublime. Historian David Marshall described the picturesque d canny detail, particularly in the treatment of ruined and crumbled remains of antiquity, where detailed foregrounds gradually give way to horizon lines merging land and sky in 223 In contrast, techniques of the sublime where the viewer is i mmersed in the foreground experience and the background objects were 220 Theory Culture Society no. 7 8 ( Los Angeles: SAGE, 2011), 362. 221 Ibid, 368. 222 T .J. Clark, The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers (NewYork: Knopf., 1989), 189 90. 223 Theory Culture Society no. 7 8 ( Los Angeles: SAGE, 2011), 364.

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66 purposely hidden to some degree. 224 Along the High Line the emphasis is on the creation of more expansive landscape experiences, favoring more pastoral design production. Certainly there a re brief corridors of dense plantings in the Gansevoort Woodland when the viewer is immersed in the landscape, but these events are short lived. For the contemporary park visitor, the photograph performs the role that the 18 th century painting played. Phot ographic representation of the urban pastoral landscape becomes the source for the production of iconic relationships. As a result, the use of orchestrated and regulated views within the design force perspectives that formulate the composition of pictures, providing foreground (ex. the plantings), mid ground (ex. the High Line structure and railings) and background (ex. the new high design architectural landscape). But the urge to represent and iconify the High Line is not solely the impetus of the visitor. High Line staff are present in the space encouraging visitors to post their images to the High Line Flickr pool on the FHL website. II. Values for Care and Control The High Line is a highly maintained and regulated park where values for landscape care and the tending to nature are evident. Its translation from the control and nurturing exemplified in this idealized version of nature. The design principle that addressed the intende d treatment of nature spoke of As a result, the analogous qualities that can be found in the translation amount to the intermingling of species without any formal delineatio n of plant type. The species of native and non native species. About 50% of these plants are native, thou these species are native to the Northeast, which includes ornamental cultivars bred for enhanced aesthetic qualities such as plant size, flower color, temporal bloom length and folia ge enhancements 225 The removal of all of the ballast material (a.k.a. the planting medium for the wild landscape) is also indicative of the value for care, but also of the desire to create an idealized nature through human control. The site was completely scraped and sanitized of all biotic and abiotic processes, stripped to its skeleton prior to reconstruction as a green roof and design implementation. 226 While human safety was the stated reason for much of it (lead paint and the pollutants deposited by the rail), this action inhibited any further re emergence of the messy, unplanned species that existed on the site in order to allow for the design Another indicator of the value for the nurturing of nature is the ever present maintena nce, park enforcement staff and the seven full time gardeners, 224 Idem. 225 Johnny Linville, Telephone Interview with Patsy McEntee Shaffer. Boulder, CO, October 22, 2011. 226 Joshua David, Robert Hammond, The High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011), 94.

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67 all indicative of a high level of care, suppo rt and protection for the park. During the growing season, over 200 volunteers contribute their time to care for the park. 227 o rderliness and care of the space is needed for nature appreciation and acceptance. According signs of care by humans are necessary, even high levels and a sign of desirability and trendiness in a neighborhood. 228 NYC also provides eleven In contrast, t he Bronx gets five officers to patrol all 6,970 acres of Bronx parkland. 229 Field concept for the High Line that implied a cultivated and delineated wilderness. This concept incorporated the use of a special concrete planking system that intended to create the impression of e mergent conditions through its staggered engagement with the planting beds. According to the design proposal, this system could accommodate a variety of human and non human ecological conditions, various human programmatic activities as well as a range of habitats. 230 seclusion (both physically and through maintenance practice) preventing their interaction. This im conditions. The concrete and grass interface was a hard versus soft representation of human versus delicate wild nature. As a result, the idea of the intermingling of these habitats is a provocativ e one and may have been the intent of the concept, but in the end the high cost of building and maintaining the park has placed a greater value on preventing any potential damage incurred to the landscape and the plant life. There also exists a need to ma active wildlife species control occurring on the site through the use of rat boxes wildlife that is at work here. Prominent signs lit ter the landscape, instructing roped barriers were added shortly after the Section 1 opening, separating people and their paths from the planting beds and reinforcing a phy sical separation between people and non human from Field Operations. 231 Such actions perpetuate ideals r epresenting nature as fragile and in need of human care for survival, but also the commodification of nature because of the large price tag attached to the building and maintaining of the park 227 J ohnny Linville, Telephone Interview with Patsy McEntee Shaffer. Boulder, CO, October 22, 2011. 228 Susan Herrington Landscape Journal 25 (March 2006): 26 29. 229 Costs New York Post 10 August 2009, http://www.nypost.com /p/news/regional/ sky _high_costs_ jWqyNl68fwWJ3YVGVNlOhL (accessed October 12, 2011). 230 Patrick Hazari, Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Designing the High Line: Gansevoort Street to 30 th Street Friends of the High Line, (USA: Finlay Printing, LLC. 2008). 231 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zxXxvoYmJo (accessed 10/18/2011).

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68 intervention that the FHL f ounde rs received the Rockefeller Foundation Jane Jacobs Medal as well as the New York Post Liberty Medal for their heroic efforts to save the structure 232 Other efforts also signified the need to savor and record he original plants and seeds were catalogued and seed seed revegetation projects in NY. Another example of the regulated interaction of people with nature was the allotment of turf space in Section People do want to get into the planting beds, but they strictly self police each 233 The role of h abitat art in the park has a simil ar role with the perceived need for people to create habitat for birds and to control non human nature T s for aesthetics supersede the functional construction of the birds FHL has also organization, it goes against our principle of helping to restore the native ecology also den ying the role of weeds in an ecosystem. As stated by Nassauer, the presence of weeds also culturally indicates the neglect of a landscape. 234 twentieth century saw the naturalistic g arden design as an expression of regionalism in American art, literature and politics, late twentieth century environmentalism placed value on plants, animals and ecosystems based on their value to humans and to each other. 235 foundation for the neoliberal commodification of nature that is exemplified through the development of the High Line as a park. Likewise, while visitors to the High Line are admiring the naturalistic planting design, gardeners behind the scenes are consul ting and monitoring every bed precisely. The gardeners meet every morning before work and discuss the maintenance work that will be executed that day. Each gardener works in their own planting zone; gardeners are responsible for their zone only and do not overlap. As a result, the meetings are a way for all of the gardeners to coordinate the treatment of the beds so that one bed is not maintained more rigor ously than another. The garden beds are also being heavily recorded and documented from year to year. Best Management Practices are being developed but it is still too early to have something concrete because there have only been three seasons of data and extreme clim ate conditions have prevented reliable baselining of conditions Patterns of maintenance n eeds and success are being st udied in order to ensure exhibit distress large numbers of plant failures and which 236 232 http://www.thehighline.org/news/2010/10/12/new york post honors high line co founders (accessed November 5, 2011). 233 Johnny Linville, Telephone Interview with Patsy McEntee Shaffer. Boulder, CO, Decemb er 14, 2011. 234 Landscape Journal 14 (1995): 161 170. 235 Ecology and Design: Frameworks f or Learning (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991), 40. 236 Johnny Linville, Telephone Interview with Patsy McEntee Shaffer. Boulder, CO, December 14, 2011.

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69 High Line horticultural foreman Johnny Linville described their relatively unco nven tional maintenance practices: g ardeners do not prune plants to perform in specific ways. This includes refraining from deadheading or pruning for aesthetics or increased blooming. Plants are allowed to self seed and migrate by rhizomes and runners, th planting design is consulted for reference in order to maintain the proportions appropriated in the design concept. Selective control of aggressive species is done during the growing season. Tree branch pruning is done for health; for example, broken or crossed branches and broken leaders are addressed. Warm season and cool season grasses are cut back at respectively appropriate times and herbaceous material is pruned out at mid spring. 237 In Planting Desi gn: Gardens in Time and Space Oudolf and co author Noel Kingsbury define a series of principles for their approach to naturalistic, ecological plant design: 1) use of plants with wild character 2) nature inspired planting patterns 3) pragmatic synthesis of native and non native plants 4) biodiversity 5) ecological fit to the site and 6) the use of dynamic, perennial plantings. Along the High Line s uch qualities are expressed through the representation of simulated ecotones based on designer selected aesthet ics ; the ecotone as it exists in nature does not meet the aesthetic standards of cultural expectations in an urban setting. Its simulation is a representation of ecological principles that are guided by idealized qualities. The Bloom Chart for the selected plant palette is included in Appendix C and illustrates the design accentuation of plant beds with year round seasonal interest. Even more striking is the emphasis on the development of a planting palette which offers the experience of a blooming landscap e from January until December. In creating such a garden is to represent a landscape that demonstrates the human ideal for the aesthetic qualities of flowering and fruiting plants. These qualities visually indicate productivity, growth, and the production of new life while also exhibiting sensorial information which provides a pleasurable reaction for humans. Figure 7.4 237 Johnny Linville, Telephone Interview with Patsy McEntee Shaffer. Boulder, CO, December 14, 2011.

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70 While the planting beds have been loosely construed from ecological models for n aturalistic plant systems, the actual production of them is a construct of human hands and imagination. Layers of creative human thought, from Oudolf experience shapes the understanding of the simulated wilderness. Oudolf designed the planting plan for the High Line as proportional blobs of massed plantings 238 These drawings were then given to Field Operations where landscape architects and designers determined plant numbers based on the size of the blobs and the average plant diameter for each species. This information was given to the gardeners and landscape construction professionals who built the design. As the horticultural information was analyzed and evaluated by the gardeners who w ere installing the plants, some alterations were made to the numbers of plants based on their knowledge of how aggressive the species were. 239 concept in maintaining the design intent and p roportions of the plants. However, each bed is maintained separately by a different gardener and despite daily meetings as a staff with the FHL horticultural foreman in order to maintain consistency of treatment, 240 it is important to recognize that such a m aintenance strategy produces unique treatments of beds based on the individual emotions and thought by each gardener. The result is a design that has been digested and re translated several times before its reception as nature by the visitor. III. Evoking a Sense of the Sublime Representations of the sublime are meant to cultivate a sensibility of awe towards the landscape, producing a romanticized and idealized nature The High Line offers such experiences and conditions in its small intensely planted land New Wave movement, emphasizes ornamental change over time. James Corner noted in a 2008 New York Times article that one reason he asked Oudolf to do design was because of the way Oudolf selected and also in terms of winter 241 The experience of of the plantings across the seasons: the growth and bloom of spring the height of the growing season in summer, the changing colors of foliage in fall and the winter sculptural qualities of dormant foliage left until spring green up. 242 Oudolf al so looks for plants that have 243 Frail plant choices juxtaposed with railway materials the visually dominant artifacts of the human species; humanity contrast ed with 238 Piet Oudolf, Nol Kingsbury, Landscapes in Landscapes ( New York : Monacelli Press, 2010), 25. 239 Johnny Linville, Telephone Interview with Patsy McEntee Shaffer. Boulder, CO, October 22, 2011. 240 Idem. 241 The New York Times 31 January 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/garden/31piet.html? pagewanted=print (accessed December 10, 2011). 242 http://www.thehigh line.org /design /planting (accessed January 12, 2012). 243 The New York Times 31 January 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/garden/31piet.html? pagewanted=print (accessed December 10, 2011).

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71 non human nature presents a romantic, delicate aesthetic with the rugged, heavy steel constructs of humans. round blooming enhanced 244 It is the constant display of phenomenological experience that produces the sense of awe. There is no lull of visual aesthetics in the natu re that is being presented here. The sublime is derived from the immediate sensory data that is constantly displayed before the visitor, despite the fact that the visitor is not immersed in the experience of it but separated by the zones by which they are allowed to engage. IV. Representation of the Pastoral In the 18 th century the Picturesque genre of landscape was composed of soft rolling terrain, with views framed by clusters of trees with an occasional folly sparking the memory of past and often mythical places. These landscapes were the estates of the wealthy and many were made public to the lower classes under the guise of providing a civic duty to those not born privileged to experience nature in such a way. Susan Herrington speaks of the Picturesque as 245 246 The naturalizing of the landscape implied two things: one, that power was actually being obscured by the appearance of neglect and two, that the association with a naturalistic landscape inferred that wealth was part of the natural order. 247 Today the landscape of the High Line exemplifies many of the same qualities: The soft roll ing terrain has been replaced shrubby trees. The meandering paths and densely planted perimeters which guided the curious visitor through the variations of landscape has been repla ced with indirect walkways constructed of concrete paving system which evokes an artificial integration between the human and non human worlds. The clusters of trees which periodically framed views and aestheticized t he working landscape and vision of coun try life in the historic Picturesque landscapes have now become the new architectural language that has developed around the garden. The urban architectural landscape is now the urban pastoral. While I have described the transformation of the rural pastor al of the Picturesque into the urban pastoral, a similar transformation has occurred within the urban realm. The urban landscape has been a landscape of primarily rigid geometric forms, undulating along the organization of a street system and varying in s cale, texture, color, weight and form. Because the spectator is often viewing from street level, the view of the architecture as landscape tends to be limited by what can be 244 Landscape Architecture 99 (2009): 92. 245 Susan Herrington Landscape Journal 25 (March 2006): 27. 246 Ibid, 28. 247 Ibid, 24.

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72 experienced at human scale; the density of structures prohibits a grander view th an what can be seen from looking directly up. It is only when the spectator is viewing from a level above the street grade that a greater expanse of space may be afforded and the architectural landscape can be received. But what is being viewed in the forg round, midground and background remains as buildings and infrastructure and the perspective of their relationships with other elements is determined by the numerous locations from where they are viewed. Figure 7.5 The Urban Pastoral Landscape P. McEnt ee At the High Line, it is the specific views of the landscape from 30 feet above grade and from a very limited perspective within the 30ft corridor that has dictated a style of the urban pastoral. In its neocapitalist ability to shape redevelopment adjac ent to the space, the HIgh Line as a park became operational in framing views of the latest feats of architectural design such as the Standard Hotel, the High Line Building and the IAC Building A landscape of glass and steel has become the contemporary ho rizon beckoning instead of the rolling hills and clusters of tree canopies. Architecture became the reveal with the viewer as the subject, except that the path and views existed before the urban pastoral landscape. In effect, the landscape was built around the garden path. It is no wonder then that the views of the space as well as the plants have become a manipulated and iconic photographic subject for visitors. V. Manipulation of Spectator Views The landscape of the High Line is a careful arrangement of sp ace for the manipulation of visitor viewsheds, enabling the treatment of nature as a spectacle, the designation of space for specific social productions, and the aforementioned urban pastoral. In terms of entertainment value, nature at the High Line is a s cene for the social intentions of the site and as a source of ornamental backdrop or accessory to the scene Movement, views and width of the structure and by the confi guration of the planting beds that typically line much of the perimeter of the corridor, maintaining insular pedestrian

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73 d and disengaged from the street activity with views to those within the corridor and what is immediately on the horizon or far in the distance. The infrequent access points from street level reinforce this separation and promote space functions as promenade, not focused on an active engagement w ith the landscape; it promotes slower movement and the passive viewing of people interacting, perspectives, architecture, plants. The experience emphasizes the society; the historic function of a prome nade The High Line also affords privileged views of NYC through the visual construction of the urban pastoral. In t he Society of the Spectacle Guy Debord analyzes contemporary consumer culture and commodity fetishism by looking at the manner in which social re lationships become expressed in terms of producers and consumers. 248 He contends ome mere referring to the c entral importance of the image in contemporary society to construct a desired reality in favor of a lived reality Debord says, have supplanted genuine human interaction. 249 The evolution of s ocial life can then be understood as "the decline of b eing into having, and having into merely appearing." 250 T he spectacle uses the image to convey what people need and must have. Consequently, social life is further reduced to a state of "appearing" through the production of the image. 251 The spectacle system that is a combination of capitalism the mass media and the hegemonial sects who favor such results. evident in several ways. The idea of n ature as theatre and the demise of being in to having are reinforced by the things that have been produced as items that continue the experience of the park into daily life. This commodification objectifies nature further by making it a driver for economic benefits but also as a source for the soci al experience The High Line gift shop provides for its visitors an assortment of commemorative memorabilia that proves y ou were there. Naming conventions of l ocal buildings in order to geographically associate it with the park T he ne w High Line perfume Bond No.9, pledged the park in each bottle (though its scent was reported to be questionable). Each of these examples substantiates and replace the experienced qualities of the garden with things that represent them Other methods of commodification included the sponsorship of designed spaces where signs are exhibited at the he donor with public acknowledgement and praise. In each of these examples there is a method of with the primary motivation being the idea of the mythical wilderness. T he idea of the former High Line as an e xperience of wild nature was sold through the imagery of Joel Sternfeld initially 248 Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle Thesis 1 ( New York : Zone Books, 1994). 249 Idem. 250 Idem. 251 Idem.

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74 creating the desire for an experience unattainable through the park but a source of emotion that could be replaced instead by the image. state as a p lace to see people and be seen is emphasized by design elements such as the 10 th Ave. Square where visitors have views aligned with 10 th Ave in an amphitheater style setting while being viewed by people from the street in return. The Standard Hotel also pr ovides opportunities for 2 way voyeuristic activities between those walking the High Line and those looking to flaunt their sexual behavior behind the floor to ceiling windows rooms. But beyond the expectations of experience produced by images that have re placed the experience itself, it is the numerous staged pastoral views that limit the visitor from developing their own thoughts and interactions within the space. The High Line influen ced rezoning of the Community 4 District of Chelsea also altered the kinds of new architecture and development projects that could be developed adjacent to the space 252 Controls were put into place to allow for sunlight, air movement and views to be encouraged along the park and prohibited the development of architecture ove r the High Line. 253 Such projects further dictated the production of the landscape flanking the park with particular views of high design architectural works. I nvestors saw the park development as an opportunity for real estate speculation and a vantage poin t for viewing such architectural feats, further commodifying the idea of nature and using it as spectacle In the same vein, the Economic and Fiscal Impact Analysis completed by John H. Alschuler and HR&A Advisors was necessary in order to justify the park development. 254 The reinforcement of such ideals which make nature a source of wealth, a source of leisure, a source of theatre and as Smithson externalizes it further by repurposing it outside of the human role in nature; in thi s way, cultural values limit of meeting specific social needs of humans and nothing more. VI. Use of Metaphor and Literary Conventions redesign. This is do simulated wilderness of the planting design (both discussed earlier), the restoration of the industrial structure including the rails, and efforts to reinforce 255 of the elevated rail. This goal is somewhat ambiguous because restoring the physical structure itself does not necessarily retain the s character. This goal strove to preserve and remember the space in its role as a railway and part of the Art and reveal the structure providing opportunities to inhabit and appreciate 252 Joshua David, Robert Hammond, The High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011), 64. 253 Community Board 2, which includes the stretch of the High Line south of 14 th Street, voted against the rezoning. As a result, the Standard Hotel was allowed to be built over the park, creating some of the worst microclimates and rain sheeting in the park. 254 http://www.hraadvisors.com /featu red /the high line/ (accessed 3.26.12). 255 Patrick Hazari, Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Designing the High Line: Gansevoort Street to 30 th Street Friends of the High Line, (USA: Finlay Printing, LLC. 2008).

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75 detail 256 Line at the street level, including the maintenance of business type consistency re use of the corridor and the infrastructural framework of the elevated rail. Both the re use of the rails and of the steel structure supports the Picturesque tenet of using artifacts that would be deemed unsightly without aesthetics. In the case of the s tructure, the entire paint, resealed and painted. Restoration of the historic Art Deco steel railings was completed at every street crossing. Stripping, painting and restorati on work was the costliest piece of the entire park construction project 257 D uring site demolition, all of the rails were mapped and catalogued for placement back into device 258 The rails appear and disappear into the planting beds while submerged into the concrete walking planks in other areas. During the growing season, they are easily hidden by the density of plantings, a fact that b oth FHL founder Robert Hammond and Johnny Linville state disappointment with. While it is a temporal reveal, the staff of seven full time FHL gardeners consults with each other through the growing season on strategies to develop a consistent approach to re vealing the tracks while maintaining the beds. 259 In addition, the fact that the structure itself was only restored in places where it was most visible, at the street crossings, also implies an emphasis on the visual qualities of its existence and its abilit y to mark the landscape with its aesthetic presence. In this way, both the tracks and viaduct function as an ornamental side note to the High Line park, supporting tenets of the Picturesque. VII. Editing the Narrative from Derelict to Picturesque Public Sp ace: Historical Signifying Practices illustrate the evolution of attitudes about nature surrounding the space as depicted through signifying practices over time. 260 The first two image s are of Open House New York (OHNY) 2004, which continued to access views of the High Line for the years 2005 2007 and began in 2002. OHNY (which is a program that takes place in other cities around the world) provides a weekend of access to architectural sites that are otherwise off limits to the general public. Such an event encourages the idea for people to engage with transgressive space, to materialize the myth, that which is off limits and exists primarily in the imagination until it is realized in sp ace and experience. The years of 2004 and 256 Patrick Hazari, Field Operati ons and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Designing the High Line: Gansevoort Street to 30 th Street Friends of the High Line, (USA: Finlay Printing, LLC. 2008). 257 Joshua David, Robert Hammond, The High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky (Ne w York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011), 94. 258 Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001), 514 259 Johnny Linville, Telephone Interview with Patsy McEntee Shaffer. Boulder, CO, December 14, 2011. 260 Friends of the High Line, http://www .thehighline .org /galleries /images/public programs?page=1 (accessed March 20, 2012).

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76 2005 were years that CTX still held ownership, inhibiting people from actually being on the High Line. Despite this, people waited for hours and lined up around the block just to get a viewing of this hidden wilder ness from an adjacent warehouse. But the fascination to experience nature as a transgressive space has continued every year since, despite the opening of the first section of park. The images are peculiar: people looking over the edge of a rail at the High Line, looking to realize imaginings about a space that may have had little meaning to them at one point when it existed as a human network, human domain. By eliminating people and representing it in a mythical and fragile state, existing in the same harsh environment as these viewers, the authors of this text drive this reaction. In essence, the images are reminiscent of the zoo animal looking out at the wild or looking in at itself. The next event is scheduled for October 2012, 261 an indication that the par k itself does not replicate the fantasy of wilderness that symbolized through the language of those who speak and write about it. The continued attraction of the OHNY event is an in teresting one in the context of what can be discerned from the historical images. The next four images are of actions taken during the process of prepping the High Line for redevelopment. But here lies the true narrative: once the space is owned by the Cit y of New York, actions are taken to rewrite the text and maintain the myth. This is done firstly by the 2005 clean up. All traces of the people that inhabited the site are removed, food wrappers and toys, garden pots and furniture, beer cans, needles and p araphernalia. The next OHNY that actually allows the up. In fall of 2006 seed from native plants are collected from the corridor by botanists belt Natural Plant Center where they were stored for revegetation projects (none were re used in the plantings for the park). In 2007 as the space undergoes early stages of demolition, the tracks are marked and catalogued for re installation. Much of the r emaining steel debris is disposed of except for the rail spikes, which are collected. Then, a year before the High Line section 1 opens as a park, sketching classes are held in the still wild section 2 area of the corridor, providing opportunities for art ists to represent the space with their own lens, without impressions of any human existence within the space.

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77 Figures 7.6 7.12 Signifying Practices in the Development of the High Line In looking at this progression of phot ographs, sub narratives can be extracted. one source of authorship of the space. Acts were made to remove the tainted signs of humans from the fictional narrative of the High Li ne wilderness. This occurs in multiple ways including the removal of physical signs of their existence, the active forgetting of the types of behaviors that occurred there and by

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78 262 Also, in the Frie nds of Line with obvious signs of human behavior; images that show graffiti downplay is Joel 263 creative network of cables and a television dish that had been established in one area. 264 period of abandonment is also the erasure of a history of social upheaval in lower Manhattan It is also the editing out of hum aesthetic that exists regardless of the presence of people. Much like the Native Americans being edited out of the Frontier narrative, the deliberate editing of the s the Picturesque ideal of nature as separate from the human realm. The development, design and maintenance of the High Line exemplifies messy and wild processes of both h uman and non human nature. Key highlights ideals about nature. Such elements feed a reception of nature that propagates and reinforces such ideals through the reinforcement of the hegemonial guard; for all of the momentum that around the preservation of public space for social and community good, park development is driven by those who can gain financially, those with the money, political power and affiliations with those who have both. 262 (accessed Dece mber 12, 2011). 263 Joshua David, Robert Hammond, The High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011), 12. 264 Joel Sternfeld, Walking the High Line (Steidl: Gottingen, 2001), 48.

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79 CHAPTER 8 DECONSTRUCTION (C ONCLUSION ) much or more about human society as they do about non human 265 Anne Whiston S pirn, from The Authority of Nature Since the inception of garden history we have studied the dynamic relationship between humans and nature, its agency and representation. From the expansive and threatening wilderness beyond the protective walls of the me dieval castle to expressions of the sublime and pastoral in the picturesque landscapes of England and France, the garden has been at the center of the landscapes have been carefully manipulated to negotiate a particular human reception of nature, the former to alleviate fear, the latter to propagate ideas of the supernatural and mythical. Likewise, the High Line is an example of how cultural ideals of nature are constructed through a cts of representation. The High spectacle of aesthetics, a nature on steroids, and as ornament to the f antastical The High line alters the city park paradigm by engaging the visitor in a densely urban experience of an elevated post industrial re use space while utilizing a naturali nature, it alters the idea of nature that visitors have in their own imaginations. Such an attempt to simulate wilderness feeds a new virtual reality of the garden; it fuels the mind to both reme mber past and anticipate future imaginings and challenge the present understandings and expectations of nature. Because it is not true wildness, but a maintained and idealized one, it bounds and limits the alternatives and expressions of both human and non human nature itself. The High Line tells us much about the continued prominence of Picturesque conventions in the contemporary reception and production of nature. As both a collective and individualized reading, this reception is a blend of historical and experience and responses to phenomenological stimuli. The High Line can be received as a palimpsest: its post industrial past, its development as a wilderness of both human and non huma n processes, its current design and experience as presented through signification and representation. While the processes of non human naturetook hold once the rail traffic and associated maintenance regimes subsided, the events that occurred over time to 265 Anne Whiston Spirn, Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991), 32.

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80 preservation were in fact re translated in a way to substantiate particular cultural values. Through this study we can recognize that there exist multiple texts and subtexts and that the use of the Picturesque is a strategy of au thorship. Its practices within the space. The visitor is reduced to a rigid and predominantly visual experience of specific views where they are not only a passive spectato r of the landscape but a subject on display, unable to engage with the plant life around them. Without understanding the full narrative of the High Line with its explicit and implicit components, the viewer understands less about the human intent and the c omplexity of interpretation between the text and what is viewed. We can receive the High Line in the way that it is being presented to us, as a romantic wilderness re translated for the benefit of design and economy. But we can also be receptive to the tex t that has been deliberately hidden from the new narrative, the text of a space that underwent social upheaval. In order to recreate the High Line in its current aesthetic, it was necessary for those who desired a new park to remove the people and unsettli ng social aspects from the myth is one that is ingrained in the cultural imagination, the one where we are alone in the wild. By scraping, rebuilding and recreating it as a p narrative was erased and re written in the process, allowing for the Friends of the The representation of nature as an image, one that is idealized, replicated, iconified and symbolized also has impl ications. To represent and conceptualize nature in a way that its agency can never be realized and to extract people from its history is to further distance humans from ecological processes of which they are a part. The complexity of cultural values that a re laden on a site such as the High Line muddies the waters of distinguishing such horticultural qualities such as plant blooming, subtleties of foliage color and plant form, as wel l as the simulation of ecotones, these qualities have been represented in a way that reduces processes to a set of visually aesthetic qualities without revealing their agency. 266 By accentuating the performance of aesthetics as an ideal over the aesthetics o f performance, the gritty beauty of the glitz and glamour of a tourist oriented economy. Despite its heavy orchestration, the High Line provides an incremental step in communic nature that is aesthetically reactive to seasons, light, microclimates and other non human forces. This is unique to heavily urban areas where all of nature is controlled by the human hand. High Lin e horticulturalist Johnny Linville posits w is the time we fertilize, and experience of more rural and expansive landscapes outside the city where the 266 Elizabeth Meyer, Landscape Architecture 98 no. 10 (2008): 92 131.

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81 subtleties of wildness have been appreciated but that the High Line reveals the hues and textures of native plantings that have not been previously observed. He also noted that while the High Line has a wide range of color variation within the shade of brown, he perceives color monotony within pastoral landscapes because of the la ck of such variance. 267 But while Linville views the aesthetics of the High Line as a vehicle for the proliferation of more native plant use in garden design, the ecological benefits of using such plants remain a side note. The performance of such species c hoices and benefits of enabling successional processes are less apparent to those without the technical knowledge. Nassauer 268 Inste ad, while the gardeners actively negotiate the care of planting beds with migrating species, they are continuing to orchestrate a designed ecotype conceived of by the human mind and not by non human processes. The High Line disguises the Picturesque with t people to understand what ecological quality looks like. There are other consequences related to the development of the High Line as a stylish and highly touristed new park in terms of community development and environmental justice. As noted by Witold Rybczynski, there are implications with using the High Line as a typology for urban renewal and the ability of public private partnerships to fund new parks : ke to see the High Line model take off nationwide in the same way Central Park was copied in the 19th century. The use of landscapes to influence urban development dates back 150 years, to when Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux laid out Central Park. W American city do residents rely s o much on communal green space y in the current economic climate that could match such fund 269 landscape and the shaping of the surrounding neighborhoods in response to it, it is important to reflect on who is benefitting from the development of such a space. While the initial drivers for park development were twofold; the need for more green space in that area of Manhattan and the financial feasibility of the project in stimulating additional projects which would generate tax revenue, the latter appears to be the one that has gained the most attention and certainly drove th e greatest momentum for the preservation effort. According to Cassi Feldman, writer for the civic issues magazine City Limits in u rban renewal projects intentional links must be made to communities 267 Johnny Linville, Telephone Interview with Patsy McEntee Shaffer. Boulder, CO, December 14, 2011. 268 Landscape Journal 14 (1995): 163. 269 Witold Rybczynski New York Times May 14, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/opinion/15Rybczynski.html (accessed 10.10.11).

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82 in order to prevent projects from excluding communities entirely. 270 She notes that when the creation of parks equal development dollars, access to nature becomes a gentrifying element. She refers to private public partnerships as ation for park services; l ow income neighborhoods recognize that by advocating for green space for themselves they begin to price themselves out of their own n eighborhoods. 271 Another concern is the ability of the Friends of the High Line to maintain a donor base large enough to sustain the $642,000/acre annual operating costs. At $9,555/acre, the annual maintenance costs of the average NYC park calls attention to concerns about the geographic equity of neighborhood based park projects as well as the long term sustainability of financing such an expensive and cost intensive design. 272 Anne Whiston Spirn writes in The Authority of Nature consequences. I t structures how one thinks and what kinds of things one is able 273 The language and representation surrounding the High Line has severe consequences. As a product of cultural influences, the language of this landscape puts forth ideas and value s that are sustained and reinforced by the social collective. How and where contemporary public parks are sited rests largely on the anticipated economic gain combined with the feasibility of their development. Brownfield and post industrial sites have bec ome places of opportunity for new parks. If the modern environmental movement has perpetuated a romanticized wilderness as Eden 274 as William Cronon asserts, then the idea of transforming an obsolete, polluted and largely abused landscape into a symbolic Pa radise has a psychological cost. Such representation ignores the agency of landscape to act within its own means to build, repair, heal and express. It assumes the role of humans as the more constructive actors on the transformation of a site. The irony of this assumption being that the photographic imagery produced to market the s preservation captured the agency of the landscape and its emergent qualities. Actions to develop it into the ecotypical (botanic) garden that it is today have created a product that has replaced the melancholy intimacy and immersion of the sublime abandoned wilderness with the urban pastoral T h e transformed nature that the redesigned High Line represents is a manipulation of the visitor spoken of by Susan Herrington. Th e re construction of a wild nature and in fact the entire urban pastoral landscape is a testament to 275 because it constructs the visitor into a particular relations hip with and with the physical r epresentation in the landscape of those powerful enough to author it. As a result, there becomes a general association and acceptance of new park building 270 Space Efforts Withe City Limits 29, no. 1: 8 9, 2004, http://search.proquest.com /docview/ 55332137 ?accountid=14506 (accessed February 10, 2012). 271 Ibid, 8. 272 New York Post 10 August 2009, http://www.ny post.com /p/news/regional/ sky_high_costs_ jWqyNl68fwWJ3YVGVNlOhL (accessed October 12, 2011). 273 r Learning. Island Press, Washington, D.C. 42. 274 Cronon, William, ed. 1996. The Trouble with Wilderness from Uncommon Ground. W.W. Norton and Company, New York, 83. 275 Susan Herrington Landscape Journal 25 (March 2006): 26.

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83 paired with the re facing of underserved neighborhoods and high ly designed affluent redevelopment pro jects. As Garrett Eckbo advised in Landscape for Living, landscape design to bridge between the man made and natural worlds as a response to the built environment which currently fragments the integration of 276 While adaptiv e re use design speaks much of the same current strategies to simply retrofit obsolete spaces into parks and use them as vehicles for urban renewal may not actually fit the human habitat needs for spaces that create 277 Andrew Blum also discusses the importance of u sing the tools and knowledge of ecology, advocating for park building approaches that foster connections and understandings of broader ecological processes, as well as the deve lopment of strategies that benefit those processes. 278 Like Nassauer, he is also making a case for utilizing a semiotic system that communicates the values for healthy ecological processes that has yet to be incorporated into contemporary culture. Bridging between the sign systems of culture and the language of wild landscapes is the present day challenge of landscape architecture. Nassauer suggests an approach for how to communicate values for healthy ecosystems within cultural constructs: care, expressions of neatness and tended nature, are inclusive symbols by which ecologically rich landscapes can be presented and be entered into vernacular culture. Working from culture is necessary to infiltrating acts of landscape change at small scales and creating innovation in 279 recognition and values for healthy ecosystems is an opportunity for the development of new signs and an alternative reception o f nature. As Blum observes, the promotion of deeper understandings of broader ecological systems can reduce the environmental impact of cities and their i nhabitants, create more pleasant places to live, and promote parks that create more suitable habitat f or humans. 280 276 Garrett Eckbo, Landscape for Living (New York: Architectural Record with Duell, Sloan, 1950), 10. 277 Landscape Architecture 97, no. 8: (2007):74 76. 278 Mich ael Van Valkenburgh Associates : Reconstructing Urban Landscapes edited by Anita Berrizbeita (New Haven, Conn. ; London : Yale University Press, 2009): 259. 279 163. 280 Blum, Andrew Chapter : Metaphor Remediation: A New Ecology for the City/ The High Line Competition from Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates : reconstructing urban landscapes / edited by Anita Berrizbeita ;New Haven, Conn. ; London : Yale University Press, c2009., 258.

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84 Another implication of perpetuating Picturesque ideals is that objectifying nature alters the human approach to environmental challenges. William Cronon warns, problems if we hold up t o ourselves as the mirror of nature a too often means not idealizing the environment in which we actually live, the landscape, for better or for worse we call home. We need an environmental e thic that will tell us as much about 281 This ethic can not be developed without cultural signs and practices that change the conversation we have with our landscapes ; t he objectification of nature through repre sentation has prevented the building of meaningful and e ngaging relationships with hybrid habitats. The power of design to enable subjective experience in the formation of evolutionary relationships with nature remains unrealized in post industrial urban s ettings. Wildness has emergent potentials in every landscape -in wilderness, cultivated ground, garden and hybridized landscape. It exists, a powerful force, latent and with the greatest potentials amid the constructs of our rigidly organized urban habit s. Its influence to drive ruin and regeneration varies bet ween the sacred and the profane. express itself creatively, parti cularly in an urban setting, will determine the reception of new interpretation s. This ability to connect or alienate people from nature lies with the power of design and the ideological representation of landscape itself. Despite a century and a half of Picturesque representations of nature in America, the urbane is not yet divorced from the Picturesque garden; it continues alive and well in the twenty first century park through the High Line. It is necessary to recognize this and to develop a new language of landscape for hybrid ecologies. The successional post industrial landscape has become a stage for the next phase of understanding wilderness. With spatial changes and disuse in urban settings becoming a reveal for ecological processes, the evolution of the garden is before us: the wild carving itself out of the urban. While cultu ral perceptions of its unkempt qualities may harbor disgust, Elizabeth Meyer natural processes are invent 282 In this way, design has the power to negotiate the cultural values that have been instilled and reinforced for so long and to create new imaginings of our relationship with nature. 281 Uncommon Ground (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996), 83 84. 282 Elizabeth Meyer, Landscape Architecture 98 no. 10 (2008): 117.

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85 APPENDIX A Table A.1 .1 Semiotic Analysis

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98 APPENDIX B Table B.1 High Line Park Map and Regulations

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99 APPENDIX C Design Documents DESIGN TEAM 2004 2009 James Corner Field Operations ( Design Lead / Landscape Architecture / Urban Design ) James Corner, Lisa Switkin, Nahyun Hwang, Sierra Bainbridge, Tom Jost, Danilo Martic, Tatiana von Preussen, Maura Rockcastle, Tom Ryan, Lara Shihab Eldin, Heeyeun Yoon, Hon g Zhou Diller Scofidio + Renfro ( Architecture ) Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, Charles Renfro, Matthew Johnson, Tobias Hegemann, Gaspar Libedinsky, Jeremy Linzee, Miles Nelligan, Dan Sakai Buro Happold ( Structural / MEP Engineering ) Craig Schwitt er, Herbert Browne, Dennis Burton, Andrew Coats, Anthony Braun, David Bentley, Elizabeth Devendorf, Alan Jackson, Christian Forero, Joseph Vassilatos Piet Oudolf ( Planting Design ) Robe rt Silman Associates ( Structural Engineering/ Historic Preservation ) Joseph Tortorella, Andre Georges ( Lighting ) Herv Descottes, Annette Goderbauer, Jeff Beck Pentagram Design, Inc ( Signage ) Paula Scher, Drew Freeman, Ri on Byrd, Jennifer Rittner Northern Designs ( Irrigation ) Michael Astram GRB Services, Inc. (Environmental Engineering/ Site Remediation ) Richard Barbour, Steven Panter, Rose Russo Philip Habib and Associates (Civil and Traffic Engineering ) Philip Hab ib, Sandy Pae, Colleen Sheridan Pine and Swallow Associates, Inc. ( Soil Science ) John Swallow, Robert Pine, Mike Agonis

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100 Table C.1.1 Flora Species Found on the High Line (2002) 283 Lichens Cladoniaceae Cladonia mateocyatha Robbins. S terile (W. Buck, pe rs. comm.). Physcianceae Lecanora sp. Phaeophyscia insignis (Mereschk.) Moberg.; rare (Brodo 2001). Rinodina glauca Ropin. Teloschistaceae Xanthoria parietina (L.) Th. Fr. Bryophytes Brachytheciaceae Brachythecium campestre (C.M.) BSG. Bryac eae Bryum pseudotriquetrum (Hedw.) Brid. Ditrichaceae Ceratodon purpureus (Hedw.) Brid. Atrichum angustatum. BSG. Pottiaceae Tortella humilis (Hedw.) Jenn. Weissia controversa Hedw. Magnoliophyta Aceraceae *Acer platanoides L. rare. Amarant haceae Amaranthus albus L.; rare. *Amaranthus hybridus L.; infrequent. *Amaranthus viridis L.; rare. Anacardiaceae Rhus copallinum L.; infrequent. Apiaceae *Daucus carota L.; frequent. Apocynaceae Apocynum cannabinum L.; infrequent Araliaceae *Hedera helix L.; infrequent. Asclepiadaceae Asclepias syriaca L.; rare. Asteraceae *Achi llea millefolium L.; infrequent. Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.; frequent. *Arctium minus Schk.; rare. Artemisia annua L.; rare. *Artemisia vulgaris L.; frequent. Aster divaricatus L.; frequent. Aster ericoides L.; rare. Aster novi belgii L.; rare. Ast er pilosus Willd.; frequent. Bidens bipinnata L.; rare. *Convolvulus arvensis L.; rare. Ipomoea hederacea. Jacq.; rare. Crassulaceae Sedum acre L.; rare. Euphorbiaceae Acalypha rhomboidea Raf.; rare. Euphorbia cyathophora Murray. One population o f 12 individuals in Ailanthus grove at 29th St.; rare. *Euphorbia dentata Michx.; infrequent. Euphorbia maculata L. [E. supina Raf.; Chamaesyce maculata (L.) Small.]; frequent.

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101 Rhus typhina L.; infrequent. Toxicodendron radicans (L.) Kuntze [Rhus radicans L.]; *Vicia sativa L .; infrequent. Fagaceae Quercus palustris Muenchh one individual found in the Ailanthus Grove.; rare. Lamiaceae *Lamium amplexicaule L.; rare. Mentha arvensis L.; rare. Trichostema dichotomum L.; rare. Molluginaceae *Mollugo verticillata L.; inf requent. Moraceae *Morus alba L.; infrequent. Oleaceae Fraxinus americana L. One tree near 30th St.; rare. *Ligustrum vulgare L.; infrequent. Onagraceae Epilobium coloratum Biehler; rare. Oenothera biennis L.; frequent. Oxalidaceae Oxalis stri cta L.; frequent. Phytolacceae Phytolacca americana L.; frequent. Plantaginaceae *Plantago lanceolata L.; frequent. Plantago rugelii Decne.; rare. Polygonaceae Polygonum aviculare L.; rare. *Polygonum persicaria L. X lapathifolium; rare. *Rume x acetosella L.; frequent. *Rumex crispus L.; infrequent. Portulaceae *Portulaca oleracea L.; infrequent. Rosaceae Crataegus uniflora Muenchh.; rare. *Potentilla argentea L.; infrequent. Fabaceae Lespedeza capitata Michx.; rare. *Medicago lupulina L.; frequ ent. *Melilotus alba Medik.; rare. Planchon.; frequent. Vitis aestivalis Michx.; infrequent. Liliopsida Cyperaceae Cyperus strigosus L.; rare. Iridaceae Sisyrinchium angustifolium Miller; rare. Juncaceae Juncus tenuis Willd.; frequent. Liliace ae *Allium vineale L.; frequent. *Hemerocalis fulva (L.) L.; infrequent. Poacea *Anthoxanthum odoratum L.; infrequent. Aristida dichotoma Michx.; rare. *Bromus racemosus L.; frequent. *Bromus tectorum L.; infrequent. Calamagrostis cinnoides (M uhl.) Barton; rare. *Robinia pseudoacacia L.; infrequent. *Trifolium arvense L.; frequent. *Trifolium hybridum L.; frequent. *Trifolium repens L.; frequent. Prunus serotina Ehrh.; frequent. *Pyrus calleryana Decne.; rare. *Pyrus malus L.; rare. *Ro sa multiflora Thunb.; infrequent. Rubus allegheniensis TC. Porter.; rare. Rubus flagellaris Willd.; infrequent. Sorbus americana (Michx.) Ell.; rare. Rubiaceae Galium aparine L.; infrequent. *Galium mollugo L.; rare.

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102 Potentilla canadensis L.; frequent. *Potentilla norvegica L. ; frequent. *Potentilla recta L.; infrequent. *Prunus avium L.; rare. Parthenocissus quinquefolia (L.) *Verbascum thapsus L.; frequent. *Veronica arvensis L.; frequent. *Veronica persica Poir.; frequent. Simaroubaceae *Ailanthus altissima (Miller) Swingle; infrequent. Solanaceae *Solanum dulcamara L.; infrequent. Solanum nigrum L. var. virginicum L. [S. americanum Miller.]; rare. Ulmaceae Celtis occidentalis L.; rare. *Ulmus pumila L.; rare. Verbenaceae Verbena bracteata Lagasca & Rodriq uez; rare. Verbena urticifolia L.; rare. Violaceae Viola sororoia Willd.; rare. Vitaceae *Ampelopsis brevipedunculata (Maxim.) Trautv.; in frequent. *Chloris petraea Swartz. [*Eustachys petraea (Sw.) Desv.]; infrequent. *Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pe rs.; frequent. *Dactylis glomerata L.; infrequent. Salicaceae Populus deltoides Marshall; rare. Populus tremuloides Michx.; rare. Salix discolor Muhl.; rare. Scrophulariaceae Linaria canadensis (L.) Dum Cours.; frequent. *Linaria vulgaris Mill.; infrequent. *Digitaria sanguinalis (L.) Scop.; frequent. *Eleusine indica (L.) G aertn.; infrequent. *Echinochloa crusgalli (L.) Beauv.; rare. Eragrostis capillaris (L.) Nees.; frequent. Eragrostis spectabilis (Pursh.) Steud.; infrequent. Festuca ovina L.; infrequent. *Lolium perenne L.; infrequent. Panicum dichotomiflorum Mic hx.; rare. Phleum pratense L.; rare. Phragmites australis (Cay.) Trin. [Phragmites com munis Trin.]; infrequent. *Poa annua L.; frequent. Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash [Andropogon scoparius Michx.]; rare. *Setaria glauca (L.) P. Beauv.; freq uent. Sporobolus clandestinus (Biehler) A. Hitchc.; frequent. Tridens flavus (L.) A. Hitchc. [Triodia flava (L.) Smyth]; frequent.

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103 Figure C.1 1 Planting Design and Landscape Zones

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104 Figure C.1. 2 Landscape Construction 284

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105 Figure C.1. 3 Plant De sign Bloom Chart Proposed Monthly Bloom Chart 285 The actual plantings implemented in the design made use of species that bloom every month of the year. 286

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106 Figure C.1. 4 New Architectural Projects along the High Line 287

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107 GLOSSARY OF SEMIOTIC TERMS 288 Arbitrariness : Saussure emphasized that the relationship between the linguistic signifier and signified is arbitrary: the link between them is not necessary, intrinsic or natural'. Philosophically, it makes no difference what labels we attach to things, but of course signs are not socially or historically arbitrary (after a sign has come into historical existence we cannot arbitrarily change signifiers). Saussure focused o n linguistic signs, whilst Peirce dealt more explicitly with signs in any medium and noted that the relationship between signifiers and their signifieds varies in arbitrariness from the radical arbitrariness of symbolic signs, via the perceived similarity of signifier to signified in iconic signs, to the minimal arbitra riness of indexical signs. Many semioticians argue that all signs are to some extent arbitrary and conventional (and thus subject to ideological manipulation). Code : Semiotic codes are procedural systems of related conventions for correlating signifiers & signifieds in certain domains. Codes provide a f ramework within which signs make sense: they are interpretative devices which are used by interpretative communities. They can be broadly divided into social codes, textual codes & interpretative codes. Conventionality : A term often used in conjunction w ith the term arbitrary to refer to the relationship between the signifier and the signified In the case of a symbo lic system such as verbal language this relationship is purely conventional dependent on social and cultural conventions (rather than in any sense 'natural'). The conventional nature of codes means that they have to be learned (not necessarily formally). Iconic : A mode of relationship in which the signifier is perceived as resembling or imitating the signified (recognizably looking, sounding, feel ing, tasting or smelling like it) being similar in possessing some of its qualities (e.g. a portrait, a diagram, a scale model, onomatopoeia, metaphors, 'realistic' sounds in music, sound effects in radio drama, a dubbed film soundtrack, imitative gestur es) (Peirce). Ideological codes : One of the types of interpretative codes notably, the 'isms', such as: individualism, capitalism, liberalism, conservatism, feminism, materialism, consumerism and populism. Also includes codes of textual production and interpretation ( dominant negotiated and oppositional ). Note, however, t hat all codes can be seen as ideological. 288

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108 Ideology : There are no ideologically 'neutral' sign systems : signs function to persuade as well as to refer. Modern semiotic theory is often allied with a Marxist approach which stresses the role of ideology. Ideology constructs people as subjects through the operation of codes According to the theory of textual positioning, understanding the meaning of a text involves taking on an appropriate ideological identity. For Althusser, ideology was a system of representation involving 'transparent myths which functioned to induce in the subject an 'imaginary' relation to the 'real' conditions of existence. For those inclined towards realism ideology involves a 'distortion' of an 'objective' 'reality' Barthes argues that the orders of signification called denotation and connotation combine to produce ideological myths. Ideological forces seek to nat uralize codes to make dominant cultural and historical values, attitudes and beliefs seem 'natural', 'self evident' and 'common sense' although the op eration of ideology in signifying practices is typically made to appear transparent. Barthes saw myth as serving the ideological interes ts of the bourgeoisie. Semiotic analysis involves ideological analysis and seeks to denaturalize codes. Indexical : A mode of relationship in which the signifier is not purely arbitrary but is directly connected in some way (physically or causally) to the signified this link can be observed or inferred (e.g. smoke, weathercock, thermometer, clock, spirit level, footprint, fingerprint, knock on door, pulse rate, rashes, pain) (Peirce). Modes of relationship : This is Terence Hawkes's term to refer to Peirce's classification of signs in terms of the degree of arbitrari ness in the relation of signifier to signified (to use Saus surean rather than Peircean terminology). These are (in order of decreasing arbitrariness) the symbolic iconic and indexical modes. It is easy to slip into referring to Peirce's three forms as 'types of signs', but they are n ot necessarily mutually exclusive: a sign can be an icon, a symbol and an index, or any combination. Whether a sign is symbolic, iconic or indexical depends primarily on the way in which the sign is used, so the 'typical' examples which are often chosen to illustrate the various modes can be misleading. The same signifier may be used iconically in one context and symbolically in another. Signs cannot be classified in terms of the three modes without reference to the purposes of their users within particular contexts. Semiosis : This term was used by Peirce to refer to the process of 'meaning making'. Semiotics : Loosely defined as 'the study of signs' or 'the theory of signs', what Saussure called 'semiology' was: 'a science which studies the role of signs as part of social life'. Saussure's use of the term smiologie dates from 1894 and Peirce's first use of the term semiotic was in 1897. Semiotics has not become widely institutionalized as a formal academic discipline and it is not really a science. It is not pure ly a method of textual analysis, but involves both the theory

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109 and analysis of signs and signifying practices Beyond the most basic definition, there is considerable variation amongst leading semioticians as to what semiotics involves, although a distinctive concern is with how things signify, and with representational practices and systems (in the form of codes ). Sign : A sign is a meaningful unit which is interpreted as 'standing for' something other than itself. Signs are found in the physical form of words, images, sounds, acts or objects (t his physical form is sometimes known as the sign vehicle ). Signs have no intrinsic meaning and become signs only when sign users invest them with meaning with reference to a recognized code Signification : In Saussurean semiotics, the term signification refers to the relationship between the signifier an d the signified It is also variously used to refer to: the defining function of signs (i.e. that they signify, or 'stand for' something other than themselve s); the process of signifying ( semiosis ); signs as part of an overall semiotic system; what is signified ( meaning ); the reference of language to reality ; a representation Signified : For Saussure, the signified was one of the two parts of the sign (which was indivisible except for analytical purposes). Saussure's signified is the mental concept represented by the signifier (and is not a material thing). This does not exclude the reference of signs to physical objects in the world a s well as to abstract concepts and fictional entities, but the signified is not itself a referent in the world (in contrast to Peirce's object ). It is common for subsequent interpreters to equate the signified with 'content' (matching the form of the signifier in the familiar dualism of 'form and content' ). Signifier : For Saussure, this was one of the two parts of the sign (which was indivisible except for analytical purposes). In the Saussurean tradition, the signifier is the form which a sign takes. For Saussure himself in relation to linguistic signs, this meant a non material form of the spoken word 'a sound image' ('the psychological imprint of the sound, the impression it makes on our senses'). Subsequent semioticians have treated it as the material (or physical) form of the sign something which can be seen, heard, felt, smelt or tasted (also called the sign vehicle ). Signifying practices : These are the meaning making behaviours in which people engage (including the production and reading of texts ) following particular conventions or rules of construct ion and interpretation.

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110 Social codes : Whilst a ll semiotic codes are in a sense social codes, social codes can also be seen as forming a major sub group of codes, alongs ide textual codes and interpret ative codes Social codes in this narrower sense concern our tacit knowledge of the social world and include unwritten codes such as bodily cod es, commodity codes and behavio ral codes. Social semiotics : Whilst some semioticians have retained a structuralist concern with formal systems (mainly focusing on detailed studies of narrative, film and television editing and so on), many have become more concerned with social semiotics. A key concern of social semioticians is with 'signifying practices' in specific socio cultural contexts. Social semioticians acknowledge that not all realities are equal, and are interested in 'sites of struggle' in which realities are contested. Symbolic : A mode of relationship in which the signifier does not resemble the signified but which is arbitrary or purely conventional so that the relationship must be learned (e.g. the word 'stop', a national flag, a number) (Peirce).

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111 BIBLIOGRAPHY Alberti, M. Advanc es In Urban Ecology Integrating Humans And Ecological Processes In Urban Ecosystems Boston, MA: Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, 2008. Alberti, M., Marzluff. J. Shulenberger, E., Bradley, G. Ryan, C. and C. gy: Opportunities and BioScience vol. 53, no.12 (2003): 8. Last of the Pack AMNY, http://www.amny.com/urbanite 1.812039 /last of the pack inside the beefy heart of the meatpacking district 1.1753483 (accessed January 30, 2012). Berman, Marshall. All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience of Modernity. Seco nd ed. London: Penguin 1988. Bermingham, Ann. Landscape and Ideology: The English Rustic Tradition Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986. Blum, A New Ecology for the City/ The High Line Competition Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates : Reconstructing Urban Landscapes edited by Anita Berrizbeita, 255 269. New Haven, Conn. ; London : Yale University Press, 2009. g the Ecological Function of Midwestern Farm University of Minnesota, 1992. Flanagan, Maureen. America Reformed: Progressives and Progressivisms, 1890s 1920s London: Oxford Uni versity Press, 2007. New York Post 10August 2009, http://www.nypost.com /p/news/regional/ sky_high_costs_ jWqyNl68fwWJ3YVGVNlOhL (accessed October 12, 2011). Cataldi Michael, David K elley, Hans Kuzmich, Jens Maier Rothe and Jeannine Theory Culture Society no. 7 8 SAGE: Los Angeles, 2011. Chandler, Daniel. Semiotics: The Basics New York: Routledge, 2002.

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