West Side Story

Four million people in the past year have walked the High Line into the history books. Since 1999 when 2 men founded Friends of the High Line to preserve the weathered old elevated railway line, the project has not only created a beautiful living airborne space, but has transformed the lower west side of Manhattan. Starting below 14th street in the Meatpacking District, the High Line has been built gradually in segments, with the last of these opening in late September this year. This final section snakes away from its northernly direction to the west, and then loops around between the River and the Hudson Rail yards to end at 34th Street. If there is a snapshot of the extraordinary impact of the High Line on the city, it is here, where the Line appears to float above a massive construction site called the Hudson Yards, the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States.

For the millions of visitors, the cleverness of the High Line is not just the joy of a walk in the park. There are nooks and crannies along the route that open up underlying streetscapes through massive glass windows, and wooden spectator seats extend up from real railway tracks where you can pause and see the city from a previously inaccessible perspective. Works of art feature throughout the landscape, changing with the seasons. One year the water fountains recited Shakespeare as you pressed the button to drink. Now performances and events, stargazing and social soup experiments provide fun and engagement in this unique space.

The High Line maintains a true historical connection by featuring plants that grew themselves on the track during the years that the railway line was in disuse. This is especially evident on the newest section of the High Line, where a preserved section of track features the same colorful grasses that are planted in the more manicured areas. Old and new together, with grasses from the past, and a historic railway line in the middle of a new west side evolution. The very last train to ride the tracks carried three railcars full of frozen turkeys. What a visual! Their day was already done, but at this time of the year as we prepare for Thanksgiving, it is a reminder to be grateful for the foresight of a couple of guys who wanted to keep part of New York’s past and polish it for the future…

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6 Responses to West Side Story

  1. Ken Barrett says:

    We will arrive in New York early next week for the 1st time. Staying in Chelsea & look forward to walking the High Line. It looks like a place to see NY from a different perspective.Great photos.
    Ken & Miriam / Melbourne.

    • Great to hear Ken – you are coming at a good time – the leaves are changing color and the weather is beautifully crisp – perfect for walking. And if you get hungry on the High Line you can always take the stairs at 16th street down to the Chelsea market and enjoy a little lunch… Have fun!

  2. Rosaleen finucsne says:

    Just returned from new york.took your advice and walked the high line
    Wow!!! It was brilliant the views are spectacular then headed to Chelsea markets a must do for any visitor.also hop on hop off bases are good to do
    Thanks for your advice on things to do and see

    • Sounds like you had a fantastic time Rosaleen, I’m glad you enjoyed the HighLine – and how perfect to pop downstairs to the Chelsea Markets for a little sticky bun from Amys….

  3. Annie Christophers says:

    Thanks for your comprehensive report and photos of the Highline Park. We went there last month and were so impressed. It was a very hot day but we were able to find pockets of shade with seats to rest and recouperate. I found the history of the establishment of the park very interesting and unique and would love something similar to be built in Melbourne where many of our old rail yards are not utilised. Annie/Melbourne

    • An excellent idea Annie – the High Line is a real inspiration and a wonderful way to connect the past and the future. I’m glad you were able to enjoy it – you must have been here to catch those last hot days of summer – today you would be looking for pockets of sunshine instead of shade!

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