One of the more unique and special city walks in the world must be the High Line in New York. It has a fascinating history and an even more fascinating present history. Combine it with the oh so hip Meatpacking district and you have a full day of impressions and a belly full of food.
The Highline is a 1.45 mile (2.33km) long elevated park constructed on the old rail line on the western part of Manhattan that used to supply the Meatpacking district of New York with meat. The trains ran from 1933 to early 1980s. It fell into disuse and disrepair and was almost torn down in the 1990s. At the beginning of the millennium a non-profit organization called Friends Of The High Line took over and a design competition for a unique park was initiated in 2003. In 2006 the construction of the High Line started and in 2009 the first part of the park opened from Gansevoort Street to 20th street. In 2011 the next stretch opened from 20th to 30th street and in 2014 the third part opened to 34th street. The last area to be opened was the second spur of the line above 30th street which offered access to the Hudson Yards and the spectacular The Vessel installation, it opened in 2019.
As with most major tourist destinations in Manhattan and New York, you should either get there early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the crowds. Check the opening times on the website. The High Line is in places very narrow, naturally since there was only one track most of the distance the trains ran. To avoid walking in a great queue, avoid the rush hour of day tourists during mid-day.
The whole High Line is a gallery, art is spread along the line, great murals are painted on the walls of adjoining buildings and the park is well maintained and groomed. All plants, flowers, trees, and brushes are local and carefully selected by the gardeners. Along the line there are disused spurs that run into warehouses, now planted with wildflowers. In the tunnels running through some warehouses there are vendors selling souvenirs, coffee, water, and other assorted trinkets to commemorate your visit. Along the track there are seating areas, and a small amphitheatre with a window down 10th Avenue. There are magnificent views across Manhattan both to the east and the west down the streets that connect East river with the Hudson river. One of the best views is down 15th Street where you can see the overpass between the Chelsea Market’s two buildings.
On the corner on 10th Avenue and 22nd Street is the genuine and Instagram friendly The Empire Diner. Great outside seating, authentic diner inside seating and great food is a killer combo.
The High Line is a must on a first visit to New York. It rates among the world’s greatest tourist destinations, and rightly so, it is a unique space in an urban setting. The past connected to the future via a walkway lined with nature and art.