Views to the Empire State Building

Garden strolls and a chance to feel at one with nature are always in demand in big cities like New York.

New York’s High Line is an unlikely place to find a car-free environment where you can stroll, observe the city and river views, admire the landscape architecture and relax on lounging chairs ideal for reading or people-watching, depending on your mood.

The full High Line project opened to the public in spring of 2011 and it has quickly become a destination for tourists and New Yorkers alike. The High-Line is located in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, along the Hudson River and running between Gansevoort Street and north to 30th Street. There are plenty of places to climb up or down from the High Line and a few points with elevators.

Cooling off in the High Line fountains, with Hudson River views

In 1847, railroad tracks were constructed, running at street level for freight trains. “West Side Cowboys” were hired to ride ahead and warn people about oncoming trains. Still, accidents and deaths were plentiful. The High Line was built in the 1930s, as part of a massive public-private infrastructure project called the West Side Improvement.

This was a tremendous improvement for Manhattan’s industrial district, raising trains from the street level so that freight trains carrying meat, poultry and milk could reach the city and unload their freight without disturbing traffic and pedestrians below at street level.

Many of the remaining tracks have been incorporated into the gardens

Since 1980, the High Line has not been in use. As its condition deteriorated, demolition was discussed.

In 1999, a community-based non-profit group, Friends of the High Line, formed and worked with the City of New York to preserve the structure as an elevated public park.

Construction on the park began in 2006. The first section, from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street, opened June 9, 2009. The second section, from West 20th Street to West 30th Street, opened in spring, 2011.

Today, the park is a wonderful place to appreciate the benefits of urban landscape architecture.

Urban R&R on the High Line

Traffic flows by below – there’s even a theatre space with windows to watch the spectacle of the cars passing by – but up above, the High Line walk offers trees and plants, skyline views, fountains to splash in and relaxing lounge chairs to take a break from the worries of city life.

If you’re looking for other fun New York activities, why not look at earlier posts about visiting New York’s aircraft carrier, the USS Intrepid, or going to Amateur Night at Harlem’s Apollo Theater.