In the early 1900s, the western area around the Meatpacking District and Chelsea was the largest industrial section of Manhattan, and a set of elevated tracks were created to move freight off the cluttered streets below. As NYC evolved, the rails eventually became obsolete, and in 1999 a plan was made to convert the scarring strands of metal into a unique elevated public green space. On June 9, 2009, part one of the city’s most beloved urban renewal project opened with much ado, and it’s been one of New York’s star attractions ever since.
The High Line is a verdant pedestrian haven above the busy streets of NYC © Alija / Getty Images
A green future
Full of blooming flowers and Kelly-green trees, the 1.45 miles of the High Line link the Meatpacking District and Midtown. The green-ified track starts at Gansevoort St and runs parallel to Tenth Ave up to West 30th St, where it curves west before culminating at West 34th. With ample seating from giant chaise lounges to bleacher-like benching that provides the setting for various public works and activities, the renewed space is now a beloved part of the neighborhood.
The park-like space is studded with gathering spots for residents and tourists © rarrarorro / Getty Images
More than just a public space
The High Line’s civic influence extends far beyond being one of the first steps in Manhattan's re-green-ification. As the West Village and Chelsea continue to embrace their newfound residential nature, the High Line is becoming not only just a public place but also an inspired meeting point for families and friends. As you walk along it, you’ll find dedicated staffers wearing shirts with the signature double-H logo who can point you in the right direction or offer you additional information about the converted rails. There are also myriad staffers behind the scenes organizing public art exhibitions and activity sessions for family and friends. Group tours for children can be organized on a variety of topics, from the plant life of the high-rise park to the area’s history.
A walk along the High Line provides plenty of opportunities to photograph NYC landmarks, like the Empire State Building © Phillipe Debled
High Line highlights
Robert Hammond, cofounder and executive director of Friends of the High Line, gave us his tips about what makes the ‘park in the sky’ and its surrounding neighborhood so special:
'To me, the West Village is a reminder of New York’s industrial past and residential future. What I love most about the High Line are its hidden moments, like at the Tenth Ave cut-out near 17th St, most people sit on the bleachers, but if you turn the other way you can see the Statue of Liberty far away in the harbor. Architecture buffs will love looking down 18th St, and up on 30th is my favorite moment – a steel cut-out where you can see the cars underneath.
“For lunch near the High Line, I recommend Hector’s Café & Diner (44 Little W 12th St). It’s cheap, untouristy and not at all a see-and-be-seen spot – the cookies are great. If you’re in the area, you have to visit the galleries in Chelsea – there are over 300 – and check out Printed Matter with its artist-made books. Check out Hôtel Americano in northern Chelsea, and for an evening out on the town, head to the Boom Boom Room at the top of the Standard Hotel – go early and book ahead.”
Where to climb aboard the High Line
- Gansevoort St & Washington St
- West 14th St near 10th Ave (with elevator access)
- West 16th St near 10th Ave (with elevator access)
- West 18th St near 10th Ave
- West 20th St near 10th Ave
- West 23rd St near 10th Ave (with elevator access)
- West 26th St near 10th Ave
- West 28th St near 10th Ave
- West 30th St near 10th Ave (with elevator access)
- West 34th St near 12th Ave (with ramp access)
Find out more, including upcoming events here.
This article was updated by Mikki Brammer.