When one thinks of New York City, the image that comes to mind is of hustle and bustle, honking taxis, pedestrian traffic and neck straining skyscrapers - but that is just New York from one angle. Change your perspective: head to the Lower West Side’s Meatpacking District (Gansevoort St. & Washington) and enter The High Line, a New York City public park that most people miss, mainly because they don’t stop to look up! One flight of stairs could completely alter the way you experience New York City, so take the first step towards experiencing the Big Apple differently; walk amid New York’s skyscrapers, not beneath them and see the city as you’ve never seen it before.
Walk through history
The New York High Line spans from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street between 10th and 12th Avenues, and between those twenty blocks are many relics of New York’s fascinating history. Only a block from the Hudson River, the High Line began as a railway line to transport goods between New York’s port and Manhattan’s industrial district. The interstate trucking industry eventually made the train line expendable and in 1980 the last train made a delivery of frozen turkeys before cooling its engine forever.
For many years, the High Line was the subject of contention with some people seeking to demolish it and others fighting to preserve it. Fortunately, nostalgia won and a group known as Friends Of The High Line began to advocate for the historical space to be transformed into a park. In 2009, the High Line opened up the Gansevoort Street section to the public as an out-of-use railway turned urban park - landscaped, designed impeccably and offering a view of New York unlike any other. In the years that followed the park opening, the Friends of the High Line have made great strides to further enhance, develop and beautify this unconventional park.
Something for everyone
One of the best features of the High Line is that you can hop on and hop off as you please, so you can cater your journey on the High Line to your interests.
For the outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, the High Line boasts an array of plant life, including species native to the High Line from when it was originally constructed as a railway line. The beauty of the park is incontestable and the landscape and careful selection of vibrant shrubs, trees and grasses speak volumes about the attention to detail made by the designers who imaginatively integrated nature into New York’s urban center.
Even if nature is not your thing, everyone enjoys people watching and the High Line attracts all sorts of colorful characters. From businessmen using the High Line as a scenic route to meetings to selfie-taking tourists and arm pumping fitness groups, the variety of people you’ll encounter on the High Line offers a real glimpse into the cultural “salad bowl” of New York.
Those that need a show or activity in order to be entertained are in luck as well, as musicians, dancers, artists and other street performers set up shop along the High Line route. Some social entrepreneurs even use the High Line as an office; for example, self-proclaimed “Creative Leader” David Everitt-Carlson can be found at 22nd Street with his venture, “I Think Outside My Box,” a social experiment in which he invites passerby to join him on the ground for an impromptu painting session. In exchange for a $5 donation, you get a 3x3 cardboard canvas, a palette of paint and an invitation to show your creativity to the world…and what a memorable way to create a memento for yourself to remember your High Line adventure! Some budding artists even leave their cardboard works of art behind for a quirky little art gallery Everitt-Carlson leaves on display.
Architecture is abounding, photo opportunities are endless and the true appeal of the High Line is that no matter what you expect to see, the best is often the unexpected.
Drinking & dining "High"
Less into the arts and more into food and drinks? There’s plenty to indulge in both on and around the High Line. Some of the High Line dining options are seasonal, while others are staples of the community, so timing is everything. Santina (at Gansevoort & Washington), the High Line’s only year-round vendor, offers an eclectic menu ranging from coffee, brunch and breakfast staples to fine dining Italian cuisine with wine for pairings - but it is certainly not the only option in the area.
When the weather is warm and summer is in full swing, the High Line at 15th Street and 10th Avenue offers options galore. Terroir, an open air wine bar, has the happiest of happy hours and other coffee and snack vendors can be found scattered along the High Line.
Feel like stepping off the High Line’s path? Now your dining options are truly endless! Chelsea Market and its vibey ambience is mere steps from the High Line’s 16th Street elevator and if that’s not your scene, the route beneath the High Line is smattered with hole in the wall places to warm up, get caffeinated or answer the call of a grumbling tummy. A sign for Underline Coffee (20th Street) beckons you off the High Line and merits a walk down the stairs, while other quirky options like The High Line Hotel’s Intelligentsia Coffee -just a few steps further- offers an adorable coffee truck that serves espressos on the go.
If you’re on a budget and feeling frisky, a side trip to Appellation Wine and Spirits (156 10th Ave) has a high likelihood of a whiskey or wine tasting - and the employees are generous with their knowledge of soul warming beverages. Check their schedule to ensure a successful mission!
Truly, regardless of what cravings may come up, the beauty of New York City is that any cuisine or beverage you can imagine is within a close proximity to each of the eleven entrances and exits of the High Line. Just let your taste buds (and your smartphone) lead you where they may!
A different view
The High Line offers a unique view of New York - neither street level looking up nor skyscraper level looking down, but a happy medium in between. There are so many ways to experience the views of the High Line and each perspective could be a day long activity in and of itself!
Experience the High Line on the move with a casual stroll or a cardio power-walk
Perch at The Tiffany Co. & Foundation Overlook for views of the Meatpacking District
Lounge in sun chairs and soak in a view of the Hudson River from the Diller-Von Furstenburg Sundeck
Sit with a cup of coffee at the 10th Avenue overlook and watch the commotion on the street below while your mp3 player puts the madness to a soundtrack
Enjoy a picnic or read your book while sprawled on the 23rd Street Lawn
Photograph the graffiti along the miles of walkways
At the end of the day, there is no one way to enjoy the High Line, and you have the power to make it the experience you want!
Make it what you want
For many, the High Line is a place to return to again and again, a new experience each time you go. With eleven entrances and exits, you can make your visit to The High Line as short or as long as you’d like - and, if combined with periodic sightseeing, it can easily be drawn out as an entire day of an activity. No matter what you’re in the mood for, the High Line offers a different way to see New York - so put on your walking shoes, head to the High Line and change your perspective of The City That Never Sleeps!
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