Everyone knows there are wonderful things to do and places to see in the public parks of Manhattan. There is Central Park, and numerous squares and gardens sprinkled throughout the island. There is one park, however which is not so well known because unlike all of the others, this one is above your head, not below your feet.
How to Get There:
You can walk right under it and not even know it is there. Called “The High Line”, it is not a “pocket park” but stretches twenty-two blocks. It is roughly 1.5 miles from Gansevoort Street to West 30th Street on the west side of the island. The park is part of three distinct neighborhoods in the city—the Meat Packing District, West Chelsea and Clinton Park. Originally built in 1934 as an elevated freight train line serving numerous companies with the delivery to meat, produce and dairy warehouses, the narrow park began redevelopment in 1999, opening ten years later.
The High Line, which is wheelchair accessible, is entered via one of nine stairways or four elevators to an urban oasis three stories above the hustle and bustle of the streets of Manhattan. Once you have ascended to the park, you will find meandering concrete paths bordered with naturalistic landscaping. There are plenty of benches and some very ample bleacher-style shaded seating at various points. It is even possible to see the original train tracks embedded in the walkway.
There is a café near the 14th Street entrance named “Terroir at The Porch” and various and some quite elegant seasonal food vendors stationed throughout the route between April and October. There are over three hundred species of perennials, shrubs, grasses and trees at The High Line. Dogs and skateboards are not allowed. Bordering parts of the park there are some very interesting modern buildings with undulating asymmetrical walls, so there is something to see besides the trees and shrubbery.
On their website you can even access a “Bloom Schedule” for each month in order to find out what is currently in bloom. A long-time resident of New York emphatically recommended the High Line to me. I’m sure I never would have known about it, let alone visit it without his guidance. It is sort of a secret hiding in plain sight and well worth a few hours visit where you can relax and unwind.
Hours and Operations:
Although owned by the City of New York, the park is maintained by ‘Friends Of The High Line’. The summer hours are from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and admission is free. There is a future and final phase of the park now in development called ‘High Line at the Rail Yards’, to be opened in 2014. It will encompass a significant area where the trains would loop around and head back to their original destinations. This phase will include a children’s playground.
The High Line’s website is: thehighline.org
Their phone number is: 212-206-9922