Fetishizing Urban Decay Becomes Fashionable at NYC’s Newest Attractions

Sarah Goodyear attributes the appeal of NYC's High Line, and the recently opened Barclays Center, to not only smart urban design, but also the nostalgia of urban decay.
October 12, 2012, 6am PDT | Jessica Hsu
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Before the High Line was a public park, it was an abandoned rail from an earlier time. "The line would probably have been demolished," writes Goodyear, "if not for the vision of a few neighborhood residents, who saw that what had been a neglected urban wasteland could be something else."

Since the High Line opened in 2009, millions of visitors have walked the elevated greenway in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. "The High Line has become a magnet for praise and derision," says Goodyear, "a symbol of everything that is wonderful about urban design to some and an emblem of squandered privilege to others." The reaction to the new arena that has risen at the edge of Brooklyn's tony Park Slope neighborhood with a façade of weathered Cor-Ten steel has been similarly divisive.

Unlike places such as Cleveland or Detroit, where urban decay is a real challenge, New York's newest attractions are reveling in the stylishness of rust – the city's new luxury item. The rust that adorns the High Line and the Barclays Center is "a sign of street cred," says Goodyear, "kind of like the pre-fab holes in a pair of $500 designer jeans."

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Published on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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