The High Line rail-trail is an urban marvel, stretching 1.5 miles and towering almost 30 feet above street level through several neighborhoods in the lower west side of Manhattan.
The first section of the High Line was opened in 2009 and runs approximately 10 blocks from Gansevoort Street to the north entrance at 20th Street. The second section of the High Line, from 20th Street to 30th Street, opened in June 2011 and doubled the length of the current trail. In September 2014, a new segment, known as High Line at the Rail Yards, extended the trail farther north to W. 34th Street.
The corridor was built in the 1930s to remove rail traffic from streets bustling with industry. The elevated design improved street-level safety and allowed freight cars to roll directly into the buildings so that workers could load livestock and meats at the slaughterhouses and agricultural goods at factories and warehouses. The corridor fell into disuse in 1980. While owners of property under the High Line lobbied—unsuccessfully—to level the structure and make way for development, the neglected corridor quietly turned into an overgrown natural landscape.
In 1999 Chelsea residents Joshua David and Robert Hammond founded an organization to preserve the demolition-bound corridor as a public park. Friends of the High Line waged a hard-won battle that resulted in the support of city officials, and in 2005 the transfer of High Line ownership from the CSX Rail company to New York City.
To experience the High Line is to have a rare view of the city skyline and the Hudson River, with the amenities (and restrictions) of a popular public park. The finished portion of the greenway artfully incorporates characteristics of the old corridor. Sections of original railroad track are visible in the concrete slab designs that make up the surface of the path. Other sections of the trail reveal original art-deco steel railings paired with modern wooden benches that organically connect to the concrete surface.
Heading north from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District, you pass through a series of unique features, including the Gansevoort Woodland, Washington Grasslands, Sun Decks and Water Features, Chelsea Grasslands 23rd Street Lawn and a wildflower field. The grasslands and gardens have been planted with many of the wild grasses and other self-seeding plants found on the corridor during the 25 years it lay dormant. The overall effect is a wholesome combination of organic beauty and stylized form that will leave you longing for more.
The trail is open daily from 7 A.M. to 10 P.M. (8 P.M. in winter). There are access points at Gansevoort Street, 14th, 16th, 18th and 20th streets. Elevators are located at 14th and 16th streets. When the park reaches peak capacity during the summer season, you may be required to access the High Line from Gansevoort Street. Bicycling is prohibited, but bike racks are located on street-level at most access points.
The Gansevoort Street entrance can be reached via public transit, including the A / C / E / L to 14th Street and 8th Avenue, 1 / 2 / 3 to 14th Street and 7th Avenue, M11 to Hudson and West 14th streets, M11 to Washington Street, M11 to 9th Avenue and M14 to 9th Avenue.
The 20th Street entrance can be reached via public transit, including C / E to 23rd Street and 8th Avenue, 1 to 23rd Street and 7th Avenue, M23 to 10th Avenue and M34 to 10th Avenue.