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The High Line trail runs 30 feet above the bustling Manhattan streets and sidewalks below, which for trail lovers makes it an attraction in the same league as the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. In fact, this celebrated urban park and aerial greenway joined the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame in 2011.
The trail, developed on a former elevated freight line, offers more than just a place to walk on the Lower West Side. It's an aerial public park set amid brick buildings and glass-and-concrete skyscrapers where you can enter art museums, restaurants, and hotels or participate in an activity calendar chock-full of cultural events.
Visitors gain access to the High Line from nearly a dozen stairways and elevators along its 1.5-mile length. Once on the walkway, they're treated to displays of sculpture; well-tended gardens; and views of the Hudson River, docks, and a rail yard below.
The elevated railway came into existence in 1934 to get freight trains off the streets below. Dwindling use led to closure of the tracks by the 1980s, and a citizens group, Friends of the High Line, fought to block its demolition and raised money for its preservation. After years of struggle, CSX Transportation turned over the property to the city in 2005, and construction on the walkway began the following year.
The first section opened in 2009, running 10 blocks north from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street, with some sections passing through buildings. Two years later, another section opened from 20th Street to 30th Street. The final section, High Line at the Rail Yards opened in 2014 and continued the trail from 30th Street to 34th Street.
As you start in the south at Gansevoort Street, imagine the railway passing through buildings in the Meatpacking District, where workers could unload livestock and load butchered meat. Today, the Whitney Museum of American Art stands next to the trail, displaying its collections from contemporary artists. The gardens of grasses and wildflowers here and throughout the trail represent the wild plants that sprouted as the elevated tracks sat dormant.
Crossing 13th Street, you can see the old Pier 54 archway on the Hudson, where passengers landed from transatlantic voyages. In another block, you'll walk through the Diller von Furstenberg Sundeck, a popular gathering spot that combines outdoor furniture with steel planters full of wildflowers and grasses. Chelsea Market emerges on the streets below in the next block, at one time the location of the National Biscuit Co., later known as Nabisco.
A few blocks north, between 18th and 19th Streets, you'll stroll through the Chelsea Grasslands, and at 23rd Street you can see the sprawling brick London Terrace complex;at 1,700 units, it was once the largest apartment building in the world.
At 30th Street, the High Line swings left toward the Hudson River. A section of concrete deck has been removed here to reveal the steel beams and girders underneath. As the High Line parallels the Hudson, you have unobstructed views of river traffic to the west or 30 sets of track in the Long Island Rail Road yard to the east.
The High Line is open April, May, October, and November, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; June to September, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and December to March, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
You can reach the southern trailhead at Gansevoort St. and Washington St. via subway on the A, C, E, and L lines to 14th St. and Eighth Ave.; or the 1, 2, and 3 lines to 14th St. and Seventh Ave. To arrive by bus, you can take the M11 to Washington St. or Ninth Ave., or take the M14 to Ninth Ave.
You can reach the northern trailhead via subway by taking the 7 line to 34th St./Hudson Yards.
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