A modern park with a historical twist - a must visit in NY
After months of listening to people talk about how amazing the High Line is (guilty as well) in Architecture classes, I finally got to see it for real! It was an exciting moment - like meeting a celebrity or something.
I must say, I felt like I was walking into all the pictures and lecture notes I had studied for it did not disappoint. But first let me formally introduce the High Line for those of you who don't know what it is yet.
Thirty years ago, the High Line was built to accommodate freight trains 30 feet up in the air as part of an infrastructure programme known as the West Side Improvement. However, since 1980, trains stopped operating along the highline and it became just another forgotten rail track running above Manhattan's industrial area. But in 2002, this unutilised place of historic importance was transformed into a beautiful park with the creative genius of Design team Diller Scofidio Renfro. The High Line was finally completed in June 2011 and I think it should be added to that list of New York must dos amidst Statue of Liberty and Central Park.
During my visit, Sandy had dealt the High Line some severe blows and it was still under renovation with scaffolding along certain parts. However, I am sure the future visitors will be much luckier as they are rebuilding fast. The first section of the High Line stretches from Gansevoort Street in the Meat Packing District to the West 34th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. The second section bridges from West 20th Street to West 30th Street. For more information on the different access points and how to get there using the Subway, refer to their website.
The High Line runs through three vibrant neighbourhoods. The Meatpacking District, West Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen all were once part of Manhattan's industrial area. However with time the warehouses have declined and the neighbourhoods now host a cluster of art galleries, restaurants and clubs. The High Line is not just about walking along the park, it is also an opportunity to experience New York's 'artsy fartsy' neighbourhoods, so don't forget to descend 30 feet below to experience see some artistic talents or grab some food from a cute little place.
Walking along High Line was an experience. Personally, I love to go for walks in parks and The High Line is a brilliant park as not only does it let you see the funky neighbourhoods below, there are also several interesting things that live among the flowers and bushes that will surprise you (in a totally non-threatening way). Some of the art I saw was so random, but the randomness itself made it fun! It was like a treasure hunt where you aren't sure what you are searching for. Keep an eye out for the High Line billboard, The High Line Channel and the various High Line commissions undertaken by various artists. For the architecture lovers Jean Nouvel's 100 11th Avenue Apartment building as well as Frank Gehry's IAC building is nearby. The IAC building probably looks its best at night in its colourful lighting.
If you love food there are several food partners of the High Line such as Bark, Blue Bottle and Melt Bakery. Be cautious though if you are travelling in winter, these may be closed for the season. Also keep an eye out for any special food programmes they may run. In the past several interesting events have taken place.
I highly recommend this for visiting if in New York. I suggest setting aside an entire day if you want to see everything as you can make your way alongside the concrete jungle and frolic among the greenery. And finally hats off to the not for profit 'The Friends of High Line' organisation which provide 90 percent of the annual budget for High Line and help maintain this beautiful park.