The High Line: NYC’s Elevated Park

If you are looking for something to do outdoors in New York City, a walk on the High Line may be just the thing. Built upon long-abandoned elevated freight rail lines, this park gives visitors a new perspective of the city. The High Line’s southern tip is in the Meatpacking District at Gransevoort Street; the northern end terminates at West 34th Street, not far from the Hudson Yards subway station.


The park is just under a mile and a half long, and it is accessible at numerous points. You can make your walk as long as you wish. I usually walk the full length and back, making it almost a three mile walk in all. Because the High Line can get pretty crowded, I recommend going earlier in the day and on weekdays – the weekends can be particularly busy.

The landscaping is interesting – I would even call it a bit rugged. Inspired by the plants that grew wild on the abandoned railroad tracks, the park has incorporated some of these plants as well as other native, sustainable plants into the High Line’s landscape. There are a variety of flowering plants too, with different colors dominating during the changing seasons. Soft purples, shown in the photos below, were the ones that caught my attention in my most recent visit.




There’s a two-block long stretch of the High Line that is more heavily wooded, giving you the sensation of walking in a forest. This area is particularly welcome on hot, sunny days, as it is cooler than many other areas of the park. As you can see from the photo below, this portion of the park has integrated the original train rails into the walkway, reminding visitors of the park’s original purpose.


As you walk along the High Line, you will find other architectural and design features as well. Here is a another photo of a partial set of tracks that has been incorporated into the walkway’s surface. (When I walked the High Line a couple of weeks ago, this set of tracks had been temporarily covered up with boards to protect it as some nearby construction was completed.)


There are also plenty of places to sit and relax for a while – maybe eating a snack, reading a book, or people-watching. In this portion of the High Line, shallow running water flows below benches on the one side during the warm months (I’ve seen people take off their shoes and rest their feet in the water, actually!), while additional seating and loungers are located on the other side.


I always enjoy this area of the High Line, where steps descend to windows that overlook the street below. It makes a great place to sit and have a snack or lunch (which you can get nearby at the Chelsea Market.)


The High Line is an excellent vantage point for observing interesting examples of New York City architecture. Here are a few buildings I’ve seen on my walks.




This building is next to the only grass on the High Line – although it’s a park, there is almost no lawn. You can also see how modern architecture and older, red brick buildings coexist side by side in this neighborhood.


You’ll certainly see plenty of water towers on the roofs of nearby buildings.


You may notice the back of a small brick church right next to the park. This church is the Church of the Guardian Angel, a Roman Catholic Church founded in 1887 that originally ministered to seamen and dockworkers. If you look closely, you will see the top of another New York landmark in the distance – the Empire State Building.


And at the far southern end of the High Line you will see the Whitney Museum of American Art, which moved into this new building in 2015. The Museum has some great outdoor space on its upper levels, as you can see here.


The High Line hosts a number of art installations, which change each year. Currently, there is a group exhibition called Wanderlust, which will be on display on the High Line through March 2017. (If you would like more information about any of the art installations, you can find it here.) I’ve chosen just a few to feature here, but there are more to explore if you visit the High Line yourself.

First, here is Brazilian artist Paulo Nazareth’s The Red Inside, a set of cast concrete watermelons.


There’s Nari Ward’s Smart Tree – and it really has a tree growing out of its roof!


This next one, by Barbara Krueger, is Untitled (Blind Idealism Is …).


There is this one by Kathryn Andrews, titled Sunbathers I. I enjoyed watching people’s reaction to this one, like they were afraid that they would actually go around the corner and see nude sunbathers!


And finally, Tony Matelli’s Sleepwalker. This one is both fun and disturbing. And, as you can see from the second photo, its location invites passersby to interact with it!



If you like street art, I encourage you to keep an eye out for murals and graffiti on buildings beside the High Line as well. There’s plenty out there to discover!

How can you get to the High Line? You can actually access the park from a number of different points, both by stairs and elevators. The High Line’s website provides the best information about transportation and access, as well as a great map of the entire park, on its website here.

(I thought that this post might be a good one for Jo’s Monday Walk as well. If you’ve never checked out her blog, I recommend it!)

23 thoughts on “The High Line: NYC’s Elevated Park

  1. You are doing NYC such good service. I love the way you are exploring and sharing such diversity. I’ve heard of the High Line but never conceived of it offering so much – art, architecture, gardens, even the equivalent almost of a bush track. I rather fancy the seats above water, and the shoes-off dabbling experience, and I agree with you that the sleepwalker is quite disturbing: forcing the question “Is this what I’m doing?”

    I’ve been waiting to use this quote from “H is for Hawk” by Helen Macdonald for a long time: it seems that you are doing just this – “a slow transformation of (your) landscape over time into what naturalists call a local patch, glowing with memory and meaning.” It’s also what I’ve done at home, and am beginning to do in Warsaw.

    1. Thank you, Meg. I really like that quote and identify with it as well. I’m not a native New Yorker (although my wife is), and the process of exploring and knowing the city better has helped to make it mine. In the process, I’ve grown to love it even more. Your posts about Warsaw are making that city feel almost like a person that I am getting to know as well – in fact, between your posts and Jo’s I am persuaded that I should put Poland much higher on my list of places to visit. And there is the additional gift of friends made through blogging. Maybe someday we will have the opportunity to meet and blog about it, as you and Jo did recently. (And I have her to think for finding your blog, as a result!)

      1. I have Jo to thank for finding yours too – another delightful feature of the blogosphere. Poland certainly wasn’t on my list four years ago, but I suspect it might dominate it now till life’s end – or at least travelling life’s end. I’m meeting to more bloggers here for a few days in a week or so, one from England and one from Sweden – another English fix.

  2. That sleepwalker scared me out of my wits! Not that I have too many, but still 🙂 🙂 What a great walk this is. I’ve seen photos of the High Line before but not in such detail. I was amazed by the chunk of greenery that looks like it’s in the woods! Such a lot of ingenuity has gone into this project. I love it! Many thanks for the link. Have a happy week!

  3. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Strolling in Kraków | restlessjo

    1. I think there is something different about it every season. Without the leaves on the trees in the Winter, it’s possible to see a lot more of the neighborhood that surrounds the High Line. (Although the wind can make it feel a bit brisk in January!)

  4. I so enjoyed walking along here with you!
    I have done it once myself, about 5 years ago, and it will most definitely be high on my list of things to do when I get back. I can see it has developed since I was there – I now have an incentive to get back soon to enjoy the artwork.

    1. I think that they have opened up two more sections since you last saw it, so it will feel much larger and distinctly more developed. It just gets better and better with time, and there’s a lot of fun programming in the evenings and on weekends as well. You will enjoy it, I’m sure!

  5. Another really interesting post. I’m afraid that in Nottingham a sign about the dangers of encountering nude sunbathers would attract a crowd of young lads that might even need police intervention.

    1. It’s a great thing to do if you if you have limited time. I’m glad that you hand the chance to see it as well. Did you end up seeing the Sleepwalker? It’s all the way down at the southern end, and visitors often miss it.

  6. This is phenomenal! I hope I’ll have the chance to visit soon so I can explore it – but in the meantime, it’s wonderful to live vicariously through you.

    1. The old Whitney museum building is now a new annex for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It houses contemporary and modern art exhibitions, which are otherwise pretty limited at the main Met Museum building. (Post on it will be coming soon!) There’s so much to do, I don’t know how people only visit a week! 😉

  7. Looks like a great walk. Everybody is out and about enjoying the great weather. This is a great idea. New York seems to do a great job of re-purposing things–instead of tearing them down and doing something ordinary. I love the way the new architecture blends with the old–creating something new and really interesting to look at. Not too sure about those watermelons though–give me a moment to think about them.

  8. It’s on my list of walks . . . . . and after reading your great post I want to do it today! Tad difficult to manage though as I’m in England, so will just have to go back and stroll it again with you. Perhaps I could peep out behind the sunbathers sign!!

  9. Loved walking the High Line when I was in New York last summer – definitely one of the highlights! The Einstein graffiti/street art was one of my favourite pieces 🙂

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