“When you are in New York City, remember… a red traffic light… is just a suggestion! “
Advice, given to me by a native New Yorker on my first visit to the City 10 years ago, and so true. Since then I have returned many times, and it is a City whose vibrancy never fails to inspire me. This year, travelling with a companion less enamoured by the hustle and bustle of street life, and the drama of crossing wide avenues amidst a cacophony of horns, we opted to do some of our city walking on the recently created High Line Park. The High Line, located on the West Side of Manhattan, is constructed 30 feet above street level, and is approximately 1.5 miles in length. Originally built in the 1930s to remove dangerous freight trains from Manhattan’s streets, the High Line delivered milk, meat, produce and raw and manufactured goods into upper-floor loading docks of factories and warehouses. Trains ceased operating in the 1980s and the line fell into decay and was scheduled for demolition, until local residents and inspired visionaries banded together to create a linear park, and a wonderful public space.
It is essentially a boardwalk stretching across the city, bordered by a blend of plant life and self seeded wild plantings that once grew on the unused line. Its route includes viewing platforms, water features, sundecks and some close up views of the Hudson River and it is a brilliant way of exploring the city, but with respite from its hazards. There is no rigid design and everything is free flowing and relaxed, and I found the information areas fascinating with regard to the history of New York and its evolution and rapid growth since the 1930s.
It can be walked in either direction, but we chose to do the entire length and begin at West 34th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues) and end at Ganesvoort Street. We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day and so some great views of the Hudson, and it being Sunday we made a reservation for brunch, and followed with a stroll through Greenwich Village to indulge in some serious shopping. The park is open daily from 7 am until 11 pm, all year round, and is security patrolled. It has wheelchair access and there are rest rooms and cafes en route, but no skate boards allowed…. sorry Silver Travellers!
Although it will be of particular interest to gardeners, ecologist and history buffs, the whole concept is a delight and offers a wonderfully different aspect of the city. A birds eye view in close up. I cannot wait to explore it in winter, when the landscape is transformed, especially for those views of the Hudson. Highly recommended, and it is free…and of course there are no traffic lights to confuse or impede.
Author: Jill Illingworth
Photos courtesy of www.thehighline.org