Thursday, June 30, 2011

High Line: Manhattan's Aerial Greenway (Part 1)

Above photos: The Gansevoort Woodlands on the High Line.
The Standard Hotel towers above.
(all photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
This is the first of two posts about the High Line in Manhattan. The series of photos follows the park from the Gansevoort stair entrance walking north to 30th Street.

Who would have thought that an abandoned elevated freight train track located in the Meatpacking District would become one of Manhattan's newest attractions.

The first phase of the High Line park opened in 2009 and stretches on the West Side from Gansevoort Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues) to West 20th Street. Just this month the second phase opened stretching the High Line to 30th Street, through the neighborhood of Chelsea. A third phase is planned that will extend the park along 30th Street and then 12th Avenue to West 34th Street for a total of 1.45 miles.

View of the Hudson River and Hoboken, New Jersey
The park over 13th to 14th Streets.
Walking along the scenic park its hard to imagine that trains once transported their goods to various warehouses located along the tracks from 1934 to 1980. The growth of interstate trucking led to a drop in rail traffic including deliveries along the High Line. The line left largely abandoned until a few years ago when park construction began.

For purposes of waterproofing, installing drainage and removing contaminants everything that covered the line was removed. The plants on view today were all newly installed during the park's construction to evoke the wild and untamed overgrowth that once covered the line.

Exposed train tracks grace the High Line with even some seating set upon train wheels. The wheels are chained so the seats can only move a couple of inches along the tracks. One interesting feature dotting the park are the drinking water fountains. Water not gobbled by thirty visitors is funneled to drain onto the landscape.

Portions of the High Line become narrow as visitors line side by side in each direction. Wider portions open onto spaces for relaxing. The one thing I kept wondering about are the apartments that are on eye level with park. Unless these residents keep their shades closed all day, park visitors will have a clear view of the personal business happening in these units. Only a wise real-estate broker will make this a selling point.

Park over 14th Street.
The Hopeful Traveler on the High Line's sundeck between 14th and
15th Streets. The wet concrete is a water feature.
One stretch of the High Line runs under The Standard hotel. I remember reading a newspaper article about "peep shows" provided to park visitors from some of the Standard's hotel rooms. For most visitors the more spectacular view is to the west of the Hudson River and New Jersey across the way.

As more visitors discover the High Line and add it as a stop to their itinerary I wonder if it would remain as peaceful as it is on this clear-sky and warm Thursday late in June. The High Line has already sparked redevelopment of the area which means more restaurants, eateries and shops are likely heading this way. For now this is a piece of elevated heaven in busy Manhattan.

The High Line is a public park owned by the City of New York. The friends of the High Line conservancy is in charge of raising private funds for the park and overseeing its maintenance and operations in agreement with the city.

Visit for maps, access points (located every two to three blocks) and subway/bus info. Hours: 7:00am to 11:00pm daily.  Click HERE to view part two of the post and more photos.

Above photos: The 10th Avenue Square section of the High Line.
A section descends in tiered sections providing public seating facing
north. The guys in shades are The Hopeful Traveler (center) and my friends
and guides for the day Mark and Pun at the 10th Ave Square with the
stretch of the High Line extending north in the background.


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