Highlights on the NYC High Line

by Lauren Hauptman

Must-Sees on a Tour of Manhattan’s Newest Park

Your first visit to the High Line is magical, much like the thing itself.

A public eco-park built on the remnants of an elevated rail structure from the 1930s, the High Line is the best thing to happen to New York since, well, Grand Central Station or Central Park. Really; it’s that fabulous. Dormant for decades, the rusty ruin owes its new life to local residents who joined forces with experts in industrial design, ecology, horticulture and landscaping to build what is now a global model for eco-urban public spaces.

The High Line meanders up Manhattan’s west side between 10th and 11th avenues, through the Meatpacking District and Chelsea. Its first section, which opened in 2009, runs from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street. The second section, which opened in 2011, runs from West 20th to West 30th streets. We are partial to Section 1. Of course, it is possible that’s because our first [magical] visit was long before Section 2 opened, winning our affection and allegiance. The sections do have defining characteristics, reminiscent of Central Park: The southern half (Section 1) is filled with more hustle and bustle. The northern half (Section 2) is narrower, quieter and a bit more “wild.” The Friends of the High Line website has a good map to help you navigate what’s where.

The High Line experience varies greatly by season. Spring blooms beautifully on the line, turning the park into a cornucopia of bright flowers and beginning “the season” for local food vendors. Summer welcomes throngs of sunbathers, making weekends here seem like crowded days at the beach. It also welcomes the full complement of food vendors, including L’Arte del Gelato and People’s Pops to keep you cool on crazy-hot days. Fall is ablaze in vividly colored leaves, welcoming cooler weather and glorious sunsets with smaller crowds. Winter is, by far, our favorite time on the High Line. It is pale and uncrowded, with an otherworldly aura. If you are lucky enough to be there on a snowy day, you will marvel at how much it feels like you are inside a snow globe. There are no food vendors in the dead of winter, so a stop at Chelsea Market to get a warm beverage to carry with you is de rigueur.

If you have an aversion to crowds, visit on a weekday, before or after lunch. We love just to wander around the High Line, looking up, down and all around. But we thought you might like to know a few of our “must-see” items along the way (listed from south to north).

High Line Hunger

There is no shortage of places to eat around the High Line, from fine dining at Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio’s Colicchio & Sons, to delectables from any of the shops and restaurants in Chelsea Market.

But if your High Line outing leaves you wanting to get away from the crowds, try one of our new favorite restaurants, just a block over on Ninth Avenue, between 19th and 20th streets: Tipsy Parson. An English cottage feel combines with American comfort food and super-friendly service to offer a cozy and delicious experience. Brunch is to die for: Have them spike your hot cider, and create your own build-a-biscuit breakfast. —LH

Tipsy Parson

156 Ninth Avenue
New York , NY 10011









Gansevoort Woodland
Gansevoort WoodlandThe southern start of the High Line leads up a wide, easy staircase from Gansevoort Street into one of the park’s wider and more densely planted areas. The Gansevoort Woodland literally weaves original railroad tracks with concrete walkways, trees, grasses, plants and flowers. Sit on a disappearing bench, and watch these seemingly disparate items grow into and out of each other, featuring different colors and textures depending on the season and weather, and let your eyes and your mind wander.
Diller–Von Furstenberg Sundeck & Water Feature (14th–15th streets)
Diller–Von Furstenberg Sundeck & Water Feature

The rolling built-in chaise lounges are the best part of this section. Overgrown wooden chaises with metal wheels roll along original train tracks and provide ample seating on which to sun yourself and enjoy views across the Hudson River. In warm weather, the “water feature,” which was added in 2010, is a favorite with the under-10 set.

10th Avenue Square
10th Avenue SquareThis is our favorite spot; judging by frequent crowds of both locals and tourists, we’re not the only ones. The wood benches and floor — which is actually a graded, handicap-accessible ramp — form a sort of sunken amphitheater deck from which to watch the endless traffic flow under you on 10th Avenue. Viewed through expansive windows, the parade of cars, trucks and busses, interlaced with the bright yellow pops of cabs, becomes an engrossing performance.
23rd Street Lawn and Seating Steps
23rd Street Lawn and Seating Steps

Frequent visitors have longed for a grassy swath upon which to picnic and sun themselves since Section 1 opened. Section 2 answered their prayers with a perfectly manicured lawn abutted by reclaimed-wood bleachers.

26th Street Viewing Spur
26th Street Viewing Spur
This spur is part of a “flyover” — a metal walkway raised over the landscaping and original tracks. Cozy into what looks like a ginormous wooden couch, and enjoy the view west up Chelsea’s 26th street, which is framed by a metal rectangle, meant to recall the billboards that were once attached to the High Line. Be sure to look east, as well, to get a nice river-to-river perspective.
Wildflower Field (starting around 27th Street)
Wildflower Field
The narrow wildflower field blooms its native species and newer perennials into bursts of luscious colors through the growing season. Native grasses — the same ones that naturally grew through the tracks in their ruined state — blow to and fro on the railroad tracks throughout the year, surrounding the walkway.  Photo from http://thegardenerseye.blogspot.com/.
Public Art and Performances
Public Art and PerformancesPublic art projects are commissioned and exhibited on the High Line year-round.  There is always new art to discover in the nearly 1.5-mile park. Likewise, there are myriad performances, from theater to dance, music to video, on the High Line from spring thru fall in various locations in the park; many take place in the covered Chelsea Market Passage, where the High Line cuts through the Chelsea Market building. Visit the High Line website for info about performances, exhibitions and tours.
Whether it’s your first or 50th visit to this unprecedented public wonderland, be sure to take your time, and enjoy the views and the experience. The High Line will wow you with its only-in–New York creativity, architecture and abundance.
High Line Updates

June 10, 2013
Opening in 2014, the third and final phase of the High Line under construction now, will offer a sharp departure from the earlier phases. It's back to nature, as the article, "High Line Offers a Walk on the Wild Side" describes, with a look that will include rusted tracks overgrown with Queen Anne's lace and goldenrod. Free tours of the still-under-construction phase are being offered, but they are fully booked for months. Learn more about the plans for this area
Author Information
Lauren Hauptman is a native New Yorker who is temporarily a long-term tourist in San Francisco, where she lives with her husband and her dog, a tedoodle named Ezra. She has been a contributing editor and writer for WHERE San Francisco and Pulse Guides, and is an editorial and creative services consultant for numerous other publications and organizations (http://www.laurenhauptmanink.com). She also wrote One Short Day in Midtown, One Short Day on the Upper East Side and A New Yorker’s Top 10 Must-Dos in New York City for Must See New York. She believes New York is the center of the universe.

High Line Facts

Location: Manhattan Lower West Side
: 7 am to 7 pm daily
Section 1, Gansevoort St to West 20th St - June 9, 2009.
Section 2, West 20th St to West 30th St - June 8, 2011.
Length: 1 mile

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