21 July 2012

Destinations - The High Line park (New York)

As I mentioned in my first post about the trip to New York, the trip was all about Keith.  I pretty much let him set the agenda once he knew where the heck we were going.

With one exception.

I'd heard about the High Line park, and knew it was something I wanted to see and figured Keith would, too.  We weren't disappointed.

What's the High Line?  It was an elevated rail freight line on Manhattan's West Side that was completed in 1934 in order to remove a busy and dangerous street level line.  But as trucking supplanted this type of rail freight traffic, and as Manhattan grew less industrial, the High Line was abandoned in 1980.

As trains ceased using the High Line, nature asserted itself on this man-made structure, and plants took over the right-of-way.  To telescope the story (which you can read in far more detail here) neighborhood residents initiated and the City then joined their efforts to successfully pursue reuse of the High Line as a park, instead of demolishing the structure as some advocated.  The first section of the High Line opened to the public in June 2009.

The result?  The High Line is now a big draw for residents and visitors alike.

What can you do?  Walk, sit, take in close-up views of the adjacent buildings, adjoining neighborhoods, and more distant vistas.  Eat.  (Among a number of vendors, Oakland's renowned Blue Bottle Coffee has a seasonal operation on the High Line.)  Take in the art.

The High Line is a popular place, so if it's a nice day going early is wise in order to avoid crowds.  Normal operation is daily from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., but you should check ahead of time to be sure.

The High Line website is rich with detail including images both of the contemporary High Line and its history.

Here are some more photos of the High Line.

Approaching the High Line, westbound on West 14th Street.  Note how the structure goes into the building on the left.  This was how it was built in the 1930s to directly serve businesses.

Looking south on the High Line and near the "end of the line".  The building under construction on the right will be the High Line park headquarters, and immediately to its right will be the new location of the Whitney Museum of American Art.  The High Line originally continued south of here, but the southernmost section was torn down in the 1960s.

Though it's hard to tell from this picture, a hip and trendy hotel (The Standard) straddles and towers over the High Line.  Believe me, this place has incredible views!

A river runs between. Hard to tell from this perspective, but the skyline in the distance (looking west) is that of Jersey City on the other side of the Hudson. 

Most of the High Line's food stands are found undercover under the building on the left.  Many sidings that lead from the main part of the High Line to adjacent buildings remain.  The High Line is a window into early and mid-20th century industry in an intensely urban setting.

Looking east, here is a snap of Keith against the backdrop of Gansevoort Street from the southern most point on the High Line. Note the 19th century brick buildings behind Keith.

Billboard advertising an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Empire State Building off in the distance.

Good advice from a billboard.

You might not expect it but you'll see plenty of the same plants on the High Line that you'd see here in a western garden.  But with a different skyline.

This is where the High Line ends now at West 34th Street at the West Side Rail Yards.  The goal of the High Line organization is to acquire the remaining structure that crosses the West Side Rail Yards as far as West 30th Street, and incorporate it into the High Line park.  In this picture what you are looking at is a remaining and abandoned spur to a business.  It is not part of the existing park or of the West Side Rail Yards.  Its overgrown state is how the entire High Line looked prior to its rebirth.  By the way, the High Line was not a "market solution".  It took a community and city government working together to revitalize a privately built structure that no longer served any purpose.  Many adjacent private property owners subsequently benefitted from the creation of the High Line park.


  1. This is compact, well-illustrated and a great teaser for a beautiful and new NYC attraction!

  2. Thanks, PBeck! Sounds like you ought to head to New York soon.

  3. Hi, Greg --

    I enjoyed perusing both of your NYC posts, although I was expecting them to be about Klamath Falls. What you wrote was so interesting I got over my disappointment quickly, tough. For Keith's birthday next year, I suggest telling him you're taking him to New York and then surprise him with Klamath instead.

    It was intriguing to read about the High Line so soon after Jack and I had strolled along it. This is very convenient: could you please continue to post blogs on our travels? I learned more about the High Line than I had in reading guidebooks!

    Thanks for always conveying a real sense of appreciation and zest for travel in all of your blogs.

    All my best,

  4. Greg, you take fantastic pictures - the High Line looks gorgeous! Plus, your comments enhance the viewing experience, putting your reader right there! You caught the spirit of why the H/L works for visitors & locals alike. Generous neighbors Diane van Furstenburg & hubby Barry Diller have tossed in $20M for the 3rd section to be built by 2014. And an inspiration for other cities (New Orleans next) to recoup their river harbors: a talk on the H/L tonight showed Detroit's success in creating their RiverWalk @a cost of $130M, only a third of the funding so far, which started in 2003. See link below. Economically depressed Detroit - woo hoo!