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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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!

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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!

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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!)