NYC’s High Line is an attraction high above the rest

The 1.45-mile High Line occupies an elevated rail line that in its prime carried goods through Manhattan’s largest industrial district. Photos by Gale Horton Gay

The 1.45-mile High Line occupies an elevated rail line that in its prime carried goods through Manhattan’s largest industrial district. Photos by Gale Horton Gay

A trip to New York City can be a pressure cooker-like experience when it comes to deciding what to do—so many options. Choose among theater, museums, historic sites, shopping, dining, sporting and musical events as well as adventures on the water.  

One of the likely lesser known places to explore is the High Line, a linear park built on elevated freight lines that from 1934 to 1980 carried goods to and from Manhattan’s largest industrial district from 34th Street to Spring Street. 

The public park now runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th avenues.

Founded in 1999 by the community residents’ group Friends of the High Line, the park came into reality after these friends fought for the High Line’s preservation and transformation at a time when the historic structure was under the threat of demolition.

A stroll along the High Line takes one through residential skyscrapers—some new, some old—on a meandering path with a wide array of plants, flowers, art installations. There are benches and performance places as well as views of a railroad yard, the Hudson River, the busy streets of Manhattan’s west side and more. There are 10 access points to the High Line with stairways and elevators located at various locations.

In addition to being a place New Yorkers and visitors go to for walks and exercise, it’s also the site for couples and photographers documenting relationships, musical performances and dance events as well as other art projects and other events.

Art installations are diverse and show up in unexpected places, such as a pair of long-toed silver shoes with heel spurs placed in a plant bed, a colorful mural that covers one side of a building and two working gramophones made of wood, steel and bronze.

“Self-seeded grass, trees and other plants grew on the out-of-use elevated rail tracks during the 25 years after the trains stopped running,” according to one of High Line’s websites. These grasses and trees inspired planting designer Piet Oudolf to “keep it wild.” Nearly half of the plant species and cultivars planted on the High Line are native to the United States and many originally grew on its rail bed.

Along the 1.45-mile trail, where only foot traffic is allowed (bikes, skateboards and dogs—except service animals are prohibited), there are numerous points of interest such as:

  • Diller-von Furstenberg Sundeck and Water Feature—an area with lounge chairs and a place to dip one’s feet in water
  • 14th Street Passage—a semi-enclosed passage where outdoor videos and other programming occurs
  • Chelsea Market Passage—where art and public programs take place and food cards and an open-air café is located
  • Chelsea Thicket—a two-block long thicket that features a mini-forest of dogwoods, bottlebrush buckeye, hollies, rose and other dense shrubs and trees
  • Pershing Square Beams—exposed steel beams and girders are the highlight of this area, which includes sunken places coated in silicon where children can play

Including the High Line is one of the easiest (and in my opinion best) choices one can make when planning a NYC itinerary.

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  1. Jerry Jackson says:

    Notice all the places to sit down. Our area could learn from this.

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