On 26 October, last Tuesday night, we came back from Nashville in Tennessee. The Fall colors there were more vibrant than in Georgia. We drove back south on little mountain roads and avoided the freeway around Chattanooga. Fortunately the tornado, which was following us since we left Tennessee, did not catch up with us (well, not until late that evening. We did not have the tornado here in our county, but a county north of us did have a tornado touch down.)
Georgia road near Johns MountainThis park, called “Crockett Park,” is quite large - more than 170 acres (68.8 hectares) – with tennis courts, 11 multi-purpose fields, an extensive greenway trail system, golf course, amphitheater and other amenities. Two historic homes have been moved to the park. One of them, the Brentvale log cabin, shown below, was built in 1830 with massive logs to last generations. A few years ago, instead of being destroyed, it was moved to the park. The cabin was closed the day we were in the park but we walked around it and took a peek inside.
Brentvale cabin. Click on pictures to enlarge, then click againA little bit of French history which we learn in France but is not well known in the US should be added here. Henri IV, King of France between 1589 and 1610 was born a Huguenot (a Calvinist Protestant) but had to become Catholic when crowned King of France. Since he was familiar with these two Christian denominations he wanted religious tolerance in the country. He presided over the “Edict of Nantes” in 1598 which gave substantial rights to the French Huguenots, composed mainly of nobility, professionals and wealthy individuals (about 10% of the population.)
King Henry IV of France, Source Wikimedia CommonsI think that Davy Crockett looks a bit French. I found out that the land where Crockett Park is located did belong to a Crockett, but it was Major Andrew Crockett (1745-1821) a veteran from the Revolutionary War who was granted 11,000 acres of land in Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. He was from a lineage of the real Crocketts from England whereas Davy Crockett’s lineage came from the de Croquetagne in Normandie, France, and his was an adopted surname.
Unfortunately in 1685 King Louis XIV of France revoked this edict and approved a new one, the “Edict of Fontainebleau” which forbade any Huguenots to live in France (about 750,000 individuals at that time living in France) or, if they wanted to stay, to convert to Catholicism. Some 200,000 to 250,000 Huguenots immigrated to Protestants countries in Europe, like Switzerland, Germany, Holland, England, Ireland and others. One such French family, from Normandie, was headed by Antoine Desasure Perronette de Croquetagne. Antoine had to flee with his family first to England then to Cork, Ireland because, even though he was a captain, second in command to the household troops of King Louis XIV, he had become a Huguenot.
King of the Wild Frontier.”
King of the Wild Frontier.”
Crockett Park, middle TennesseeThis is the way it looked originally and after it was abandoned.
So what is the connection between the park near Nashville and the park in New York? Nothing. Just that they both have interesting history and, maybe, because the names of their cities starts with the letter N? (lol.) It is also because we visited both parks about a week apart. Now, a third park, this one in Paris, was built on an abandoned 19th century railway viaduct. In 1987 it was converted into a trail and called “La Promenade Plantée” (promenade with plants.) It is a 2.8 mile (4.5 km) elevated garden walkway which goes near modern buildings, boulevards and open sections.
In 1999 when the structure was under threat of demolition a non-profit group was formed, Friends of the High Line, to preserve and maintain it as an elevated public park in the model of the Paris Promenade Plantée. We strolled on it on a sunny day. At first we mostly saw tourists on the trail but as we were approaching lunch time many local people appeared.
The High Line elevated public park is not completely finished. Sections 2 and 3 are still under refurbishment and construction.
The High Line goes close to busy streets and it is fun to look at them from above.
Walking the High Line is a great experience. You know you are in the vibrant city of New York but at the same time are walking in an oasis of flowers and plants – a sea of tranquility. You can look at the contemporary landscape of the city but from a cool vantage point surrounded by butterflies and chirping birds. My husband, who has a master’s degree in environmental planning, said that this was the highlight of his trip to New York. He kept marveling at the rail tracks going nowhere between the grass, weeds and flowers.
Most of the industries the High Line used to serve are now gone.
Walking along this thin linear space, bordering the Hudson River, you can see the Statue of Liberty in the distance.
As we weaved our way down the High Line it was like meandering down a stream, made of metal and concrete, but with vegetation on the side and peopled with tourists, local pedestrians, artists and workers having lunch or reading.
Strolling down this concrete deck you can feel the history of the place then look at the strong bare steel walls
or a wildflower
or urban philosophy.
The natural and manmade forces have been carefully cultivated in this urban renewal promenade – it had an impact on me. I could feel the past as I observed the present reality. I delighted in taking pictures as my husband was meditating on the way creative and thoughtful environmental planning ideas can benefit our communities.
We arrived to the end of the High Line too quickly it seemed. We walked down the stairs to the street below, in the Meat Packing District, and I took a last photograph looking up at the dramatic underbelly of the rail.
The High Line elevated public walkway may have been inspired by the Paris Promenade Plantée, but it has a completely different style. It is a very unconventional park binding the old and the new, cityscape and wildscape. It is unique.