The NYC High Line: Beauty in the Middle of the City

The High Line is one of New York City’s newest parks: the first section opened in 2006, and subsequent parts in 2009. Built on an old, unused elevated railroad track and measuring about one mile long by about forty feet wide in some places, it is also one of the most interesting parks in the area. Unused since the 1980’s and originally condemned for demolition, it seemed the High Line would become one story of urban blight. Then “Friends of the High Line” organized the community and began a massive public outreach program to raise funds and lobby the City and the Parks Commision to turn the old train tracks into a public use park.

The High Line runs from downdown Gansvoort St (one block below West 13th St.) up to West 30th St. Along the way there are fountains and pools of water, grass to stretch out on, a sound or movie stage with coliseum seating, benches to sit or recline on, and more. Wildflower gardens and beautiful trees and plantings line the way and make you feel like you are in an oasis in the middle of the city. Between and alongside the flowers you can catch a glimpse of the old railroad tracks and switches still in the roadway.

There are food shops offering a wide variety of food and drink, including gelatos and ices, tacos, steaks and beers and more. Tables and chairs are spread out in the wider sections of the walkway and there are lovely views of the Hudson, the boats, and New Jersey off in the distance. It can get very crowded on the weekends and it has become a bit of a tourist attraction on the weekdays, but it is well worth the trip. My friend and I went at 3:30 in the afternoon and found moderate crowds but not an unpleasant number of people. It was a sunny afternoon and the locals were clearly dressed for catching the rays on the wooden recliners that lined the path. Others took advantage of the shade of trees or nearby buildings or wet their feet in the pool of running water that added its pleasant music-like sound to the mix.

All in all the park was a delightful surprise and very rewarding. You can snack while you walk or just burn a few calories and then treat yourself at the Chelsea Market or one of the fine restaurants along 9th and 10th avenues right under the High Line. Either way it makes for a fun afternoon and evening.

Click here for PBS Channel 13’s “Treasures of New York,” featuring the High Line

by Cheryl Shainmark