Woodlands and grasslands have very different climate and conditions, and plants with very different adaptations.

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1 Introduction This self-guided tour takes students on a journey through two different landscapes on the High Line: woodlands and grasslands. Through comparing these two systems, students learn three core concepts: 1. Climate and conditions shape the development of landscapes, and the choices of landscape architects. 2. Plants adapt to the conditions of their environment. This leads to biodiversity. 3. Ecosystems are a combination of climate, conditions, and biodiversity. To identify an ecosystem, you must look both at the adaptations of plants individually, and the climate and conditions of the system. Woodlands and grasslands have very different climate and conditions, and plants with very different adaptations. Structure The trip has four stops, taking you north on the High Line from 16th Street to 26th Street. The closest restrooms are at 16th Street. At this time, there are no facilities north of 16th Street. At each stop, we provide the following materials: 1. Worksheet for students 2. Guided instructions for teachers Also included in this packet is Background Information for teachers. We recommend spending a minimum of 75 minutes on this trip. The best time for this self-guided visit is MAY - OCTOBER. To REGISTER for a self-guided trip, visit: The Coca-Cola Foundation is a Supporting Sponsor of High Line Education. Major support for High Line Education comes from Deutsche Bank. Additional support is provided by The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston.

2 WHERE: HOW: TIME: 10th Avenue Square, on the High Line between 16th and 17th Street Sit in the Sunken Overlook, and look at the street below 10 minutes BIG IDEA: The climate and conditions of an area shape what plants survive and thrive. The buildings that surround the High Line create very different conditions in different sections. In response, the landscape architects planted two distinct ecosystems on the park: grasslands and woodlands. GUIDED CONVERSATION: Observe the city today What do you notice as you look out over the street? What plants do you see? Who put them there? Could they survive on their own? What do you think would happen if the street below were left untouched for 25 years? Do Activity 1 to discover what happened to the High Line when it was abandoned. ACTIVITY 1: Wild Landscapes Takeaway: Different amounts of sun, shade, wind, and water led to two very different landscapes on the abandoned High Line. This influenced the landscape architects who designed the park. TRANSITION: Rules for Activity 2 (Grasslands Study) Stay with your chaperone. Work in pairs or small groups of up to 6. Walk until you get to the 18th Street Stairs to begin the activity. Stay between the 18th Street and the 20th Street Stairs. Do not block the path. Stand or sit single file. Take 15 minutes to complete this activity, then line up at the 20th Street Stair. Walk until you get to the 18th Street Stair, then spread out in pairs/groups. TIME: 5 minutes

3 WHERE: HOW: TIME: Chelsea Grasslands, on the High Line from 18th Street to 20th Street Stairs Students will work alone, standing single file 15 minutes BIG IDEA: Grasslands have sunny, windy, dry conditions. Plants in the grasslands are adapted to survive in these harsh conditions. Students will observe conditions and plant adaptations for grasslands on the High Line. ACTIVITY 2: Grasslands Study Takeway: This area of the High Line mimics the conditions of a grassland: it is sunny, windy, and dry. Landscape architects planted grassland plants in this area. TRANSITION: Rules for Activity 3 (Woodlands Study) Line up at the 20th Street Stair to share rules for the next activity Stay with your chaperone, but work alone. Walk until you get to the 21st Street Thicket. Stay within the area where the trees curl over the path. Do not block the path. Please stand single file in the Thicket. Take 15 minutes to complete this activity, then gather on the 22nd Street Seating Steps. Walk until you get to the Thicket at 21st Street to complete Activity 3. TIME: 5 minutes

4 WHERE: HOW: TIME: Chelsea Thicket, on the High Line from 21st 22nd Street Students will work alone, standing single file 15 minutes BIG IDEA: In an eastern temperate forest, plants live at different layers: forest floor, understory, and canopy. Plants adapt to shady conditions by capturing as much light as possible. They also adapt to changing seasons and cold winters. Students will observe the conditions and plant adaptations for woodlands on the High Line. ACTIVITY 3: Eastern Woodland Study Takeaway: In this area of the High Line, tall buildings mimic the forest canopy, creating the shady, protected conditions ideal for a woodland. Landscape architects planted woodland plants in these areas. TRANSITION: Gather students to walk to the 22nd Street Seating Steps Walk to 22nd Street Seating Steps or the Lawn and sit in a group. TIME: 5 minutes

5 WHERE: HOW: TIME: 23rd Street Lawn or Seating Steps Students will sit on the Seating Steps or Lawn to discuss what they have observed 15 minutes BIG IDEA: The High Line has very different conditions in different sections. In response, the designers planted two distinct ecosystems on the park: grasslands and woodlands. Together, the climate, conditions, and plants of each area create two different habitats and ecosystems. GUIDED CONVERSATION: Share Out What did you notice in the two areas we studied? How were the conditions different? How were the plants different? In the wild, the climate and conditions of a place lead to biodiversity: different varieties of plant life that are adapted to unique conditions. Designing for Conditions On the High Line, landscape architects chose to create two different landscapes. Why do you think they put grasslands in one area and woodlands in another? Because the conditions in one area were sunny and windy like a grassland, and the conditions in the other were shady and protected, like a woodland. What would have happened if the landscape architects had put grasslands plants where the Thicket is? Would they have been happy between two tall buildings? Habitats & Ecosystems Different climate, conditions, and plants form a habitat for different animals and insects. What animals do you think might appreciate the shady, protected trees of the woodland? What insects do you think might appreciate the wildflowers of the grasslands? We have talked about climate, conditions, plants, and animals of a place. When these four things combine, they create an ecosystem. Do you think your school neighborhood is an ecosystem? Why or why not? What evidence can you find to support your opinion? Discuss with a partner or in big group.

6 Natural History of the High Line Beginning in 1934, the High Line served as a rail link for freight trains delivering goods such as meat, flour, sugar, milk, and fresh vegetables directly into the warehouses and factories that used to dominate Manhattan s west side in the Meatpacking District and Chelsea. By the 1950s, interstate trucking had made freight rail less popular, and the line was shut down in 1980 After the High Line was decommissioned, nature moved in. The wind deposited sand and other soil particles. The wind and birds deposited seeds. Some of the seeds landed in pockets of soil, germinated and grew, and the new plants trapped more soil. More seeds germinated, more plants grew. The plants attracted insects, birds, and other small animals. In this way, new ecosystems developed on the rail tracks over time. Different environments favored different growth forms: Where the High Line is exposed to winds off the Hudson, the developing landscape was dominated by several kinds of tough, drought-resistant grasses and wildflowers. Where the High Line is narrow and sheltered by adjacent buildings, water was retained more easily, a deeper layer of soil accumulated, and the vegetation became denser over time, including several groves of tall shrubs and small trees. Two High Line Landscapes: Grasslands and Woodlands Today, the plantings on the High Line emulate what nature had shown: Exposed areas in the park are home to dry meadow and prairie plants including grasses and wildflowers that thrive with plenty of sun and little water and tolerate being pummeled by strong winds. Areas that are more protected from the wind and the sun are turning into woodlands with a ground layer of lowgrowing plants, a shrub layer, and a layer of understory trees. The surrounding buildings take on the sheltering role of large canopy trees. Friends of the High Line, High Line Education, 2015

7 GRASSLANDS Wild and Stormy Plant Adaptations to Sun, Wind, and Drought Home to dry meadow and prairie plants including grasses and wildflowers, grasslands have lots of sun, little water, and a lot of wind. Plants have adapted in different ways to survive and reproduce in environments with plenty of sun and wind and little water. Some plant adaptations happen below ground, where we can t see them. Many High Line grasses, for example, grow huge root systems that go deep, up to five feet or more, in their native habitats. (They can t do that on the High Line, where the soil is 18 inches deep in most places.) Other plants have fleshy underground structures such as taproots. Aboveground, plants have developed different ways to protect their leaves against drying out in the wind. For example, leaves may be succulent, covered with a whitish waxy coating, or have hairy surfaces. Leaves and stems may be flexible so they bend in the wind, but don t break. These adaptations help plants survive in areas such as prairies and other kinds of dry meadows as well as the exposed parts of the High Line that have no tree cover and go through long periods without rain, and are often very windy. Grassland Plant: Allium Onions and their relatives are some of the most common foods (and medicines) for people and poisonous for many animals including dogs, cats, and cattle. Onions and their relatives are in a group of plants adapted to survive long seasons with little to no water. When the weather turns dry or very cold, they go underground and survive off of drought-proof underground structures. This structures is the part of onions we eat. WOODLANDS Living in Layers Woodland Adaptations In a forest, plants adapt by occupying every available niche, where they capture as much light as possible. The tallest trees make up the forest canopy, which can be 100 feet or more above the ground. On the High Line, the living canopy is absent, and the tall surrounding buildings take its place. Beneath the canopy, the understory contains smaller trees that are more shade tolerant than canopy trees. Below the understory is a shrub layer that includes both shrubs and young trees. Carpeting the forest floor is an herb layer made up of wildflowers, ferns, and mosses. Fallen leaves, twigs, and dried plants cover the ground, decompose, and help return nutrients to the soil. Friends of the High Line, High Line Education, 2015

8 Woodland tree: Gray birch Betula populifolia Gray birch is a small deciduous tree. Often, it has several trunks, but it can also have just one trunk. It has chalky white bark with dark patches that appear below each branch base. The leaves are triangular with a long point. They are shiny green and have toothed edges. They have long leaf stalks and dance in the breeze. In the fall, leaves turn bright yellow. In winter, the upper branches of the tree sometimes bend to the ground. Long, skinny worm-like flowers called catkins appear on the tree in early spring. It is pollinated by wind, and the small winged seeds are also dispersed by wind. Gray birch is a caterpillar host of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. The female butterflies use it to lay their eggs. The caterpillars feed on the leaves. Songbirds, insects, and small mammals also use the tree. Woodland shrub: Serviceberry Downy: Amelanchier arborea or Smooth: A. laevis Serviceberries are small understory trees or large shrubs with dark gray smooth bark. They usually have several trunks or main stems. The leaves are wide and oval with a small pointy tip and have toothed edges. In the fall, the leaves turn many bright shades, from yellow to red. In early spring, white flowers appear in small clusters before the leaves and are pollinated by native bees and midges. The tree is self-fertile. In late spring flowers develop into small round fruits that turn from green to red and then ripen to dark purple in June. They are similar to blueberries in size and color. Serviceberries are eaten fresh and are also nice for jams and pies. They are popular with birds. Animal Connections Habitat High Line The High Line s mix of vertically layered plantings combining small trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses, many of them native to the region, provides habitat for a variety of birds and insects year-round. Some birds perch in the trees, some build nests where they raise their young, some find shelter from inclement weather in the denser shrubbery, some eat the berries from the shrubs, some feed on the seeds from the grasses. Native bees, butterflies, moths, and other pollinators find nectar, pollen, and more in the wildflowers and other perennials as well as the trees and shrubs from spring through summer and into fall. The insects and their offspring in turn provide adult songbirds with the nourishment they need to feed their young. Friends of the High Line, High Line Education, 2015

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