COFFEE @ Intelligentsia Coffee – MANHATTAN 10011
Intelligentsia prides itself on excellent, freshly roasted coffee, served by expert baristas in an oasis of calm. Situated in a quiet corner of The High Line Hotel lobby, the café is a brilliant spot for a rest after walking around the area. The café itself seems to function as the entrance to the hotel. It boasts a quirky, old-style interior, with exposed brick walls and beams and heirloom rugs on the floor and tons of things to look at. There’s a deer head mounted on a wall, multiple frames – some with, some without pictures – an old typewriter and gorgeous old furniture. You could probably visit every week and see something different.
There’s a gorgeous courtyard out the front which features a fully refurbished 1963 Citroen H-Van, formerly a furniture delivery truck and now fashioned into a modern-day coffee truck.
The hotel was originally created in the Collegiate Gothic style. The rooms are completely decorated with period furnishings, with the original wooden floors on beautiful display and 19th century wallpaper patterns. Though bricked in, the historic fireplace mantles retain the old-world craftsmanship. Everywhere you look, there are tons of references to the past, yet you’ll also find Bluetooth connectivity, high end linens, Western Electric phones that are configured for modern usage and every room offers a wireless Jawbone Jambox player.
The hotel says they call their design aesthetic ‘Vintage Eclectic Americana’. See it to really appreciate it.
NOW & THEN around The High Line
Originally constructed in 1847, The High Line comprised street-level railroad tracks to the ship yards but so many collisions occurred between freight trains and other road traffic that Tenth Avenue became known as ‘Death Avenue’. In 1929, the West Side Improvement Project began which eliminated 105 of the railroad crossings and installed 32 acres of land to Riverside Park. The rail lines were diverted through the centres of blocks instead of along the avenue. The trains could then be connected directly with the warehouses and factories and be loaded and unloaded inside the actual buildings.
In the 1950s, interstate trucking grew and much of The High Line was demolished. In the 1990s, it lay decomposing until the turn of the millennium. The High Line Park is an aerial greenway and rails-to-trails park in Manhattan. Measuring 2.33km long, it has been repurposed to provide inviting public spaces with lush vegetation and permanent art installations.
Today, the line has sparked real estate development and brought about a renaissance of the area. Some of the park’s features include a sundeck and water feature, an open-air café in the Chelsea Market Passage, the 23rd Street Lawn for picnics and summer entertainment and a children’s playground.
The park has become a model for other cities who desire to transform derelict and neglected areas into vibrant public spaces. As one of the co-founders of Friends of the High Line stated: “Empty parks are dangerous … busy parks are much less so.” The repurposed site is now a low crime, high value asset to the Manhattan cityscape, providing a welcome green reprieve from the concrete and steel construction all around.
Interestingly, The High Line was chosen as the filming location for chase scenes for the 2007 zombie apocalypse movie I Am Legend, starring Will Smith because of its wasteland appearance of concrete and overgrown vegetation. It has also appeared in the 1979 Woody Allen film Manhattan and been featured in The Simpsons and other pop culture elements.
The following images illustrate some of the beautiful public walkways that have been created.
A photographic record of my visit to The High Line
Much of the architecture surrounding The High Line is today the epitome of Contemperiod. The following are just a few of the buildings that lie in the immediate vicinity of the elevated public walkway.
Real estate prices on The High Line are growing more rapidly than in surrounding areas. With more retail outlets, restaurants and services opening up, The High Line neighbourhood is becoming more desirable among those with the cash to splash on real estate however The Wall Street Journal says that “it still has that kind of hipness of the West Chelsea area”.
When visiting New York a walk along The High Line is a must, but be warned, it gets pretty busy so start early! Take a look at the Friends of The High Line website for information about the public art and gardens that line the walkway.
Location Map – Intelligentsia Coffee