I'm a freelance writer/photographer living in the East Village neighborhood of New York City.
Published November 4th 2009
Few destination spots combine cool public space with a healthy dose of art, architecture, and cheap eats, but that's exactly what's on tap for visitors of the High Line, a 1.45-mile repurposed elevated rail line from the 1930s that is now Manhattan's most popular park.
Trek the narrow, winding route from south to north, beginning at Gansevoort Street. The first view to command your attention is André Balazs's Standard Hotel, which overlooks the High Line at Thirteenth Street. A stretch of trees makes up the Gansevoot Woodland, a semi-private area to relax or steal an embrace from loved ones.
The Washington Grasslands follow, opening the park to broader perspectives and spectacular Hudson River Views. Continue walking north toward Fourteenth Street where you may relax on the sun deck, taking in views of surrounding skyscrapers, such as the industrial High Line Building, a one-time meatpacking plant.
If the weather refuses to cooperate, take shelter under the semi-enclosed former loading dock between Fifteenth and Sixteenth Streets where you'll bathe in neon-colored lights in an installation by artist Spencer Fitch. Once there, enjoy a selection of fresh salads and sandwiches from 'wichcraft, or a delectable cupcake from Butter Lane. For a D.I.Y.-styled picnic, consider descending the stairs at Sixteenth Street to venture into nearby Chelsea Market for a variety of treats from soup to seafood. Once refreshed, continue exploring the High Line's northern spur, taking in the Horticulture Preserve and its variety of native grasses and flowers.
The next point of interest is the Tenth Avenue Square, where park visitors can sit, listen to occasional lectures from an assortment of rotating speakers, and view street-level activities through enormous windows. Note the zigzagging glass lines of the new glass skyscrapers soaring above, especially the Chelsea Modern and the IAC Building.
The High Line concludes with the Chelsea Grasslands, roughly three blocks of unobstructed views of the Meatpacking District and its endless hustle. Since you're 30-feet above the street noise, however, there's no excuse for not reading the last chapter of that book. Stay until the evening (the park is well lit) and you may even catch a meeting of the Amateur Astronomy Association or an impromptu fire-escape performance of Renegade Cabaret.