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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.–10 p.m.; June–September, 7 a.m.–11 p.m.; and December–March, 7 a.m.–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.
I like to explore old railroad beds. Sometimes they still have rails, usually not. The High Line gives you a taste of what I find when I go exploring. It's been "civilized" in that the creosoted ties are gone, replaced by non-cancer-causing pressure-treated "rails". They're not as big as real ties, and they don't have real spikes, and ...
But enough railfan whining. They've done a bang-up job simulating an abandoned railroad bed. Go. Enjoy it.
When in New York I highly recommend taking some time to check this out. Great views nice trails
Currently about 1/4 of it is closed due to construction but I went this weekend for the first time and the view was great, it wasn't overly crowded, there are small food kiosks and random sidelined quiet entertainment. Overall I enjoyed my walk on the high line.
I really enjoyed an evening walk on the High Line. It was really pretty with the sun setting and the city light just starting to shine. I agree whole heartily with the reviewer who called it a different world from the city streets below. It was a highlight of my trip to the city.
Pleasant walk on a Sunday morning, impressed with the greenery and views, lots of access points. Will do again on a weekday to see if we can avoid some of the crowds.
One of the things I love most about the High Line is that it's different every time I visit it. Depending on the season, the time of day, and people who happen to be there, it's never the same experience. Photographers and artists will find an infinite supply of inspiration on the High Line.
My wife & I sent a week in NY with our daughter. She took us to the HIGH-LINE. This has to be one f the greatest idea's ever. It is very well planned out and talk about quite !! it was like being in another world while being in the Big Apple.
Looks like they are extending the path some more which is great to see, can't wait to go back and walk the new section and send more time on the HIGH-LINE.
If you go to New York city you have to visit the HIGH-LINE.
We so enjoyed walking on this trail when we visited New York in early September. We had read about it in the Times and decided to check it out. It was quite an amazing feeling to be walking above the city streets. The view of the Hudson is spectacular. The day we were there, a volunteer was working on the wildflowers and herbs planted along the way, and these were quite wonderful. It's a very unique combination of the urban cityscape with the organic landscape of the wild plants and flowers planted in the beds created by old railroad ties.
I've had a number of memorable rail-trail experiences around the country - from the remote beauty of the Greenbrier River trail in West Virginia to the sweeping vistas of the West County trail in Napa Valley but nothing really compares to the experience I had on the High Line in New York City this past weekend. You can't really compare the natural scenic beauty of these great rural trails with an urban city trail but the experience of walking down the High Line as you take in impressions of concrete, steel, natural organic landscapes, towering skyscrapers and wide views of the Hudson River, all contributed to the surreal feeling of almost quietly being suspended above and far removed from the busy Manhatten city streets down below.
The first section that opened this past June is just over half a mile in length and we accessed the southern section from the Gansevoort street stairs. The High Line's excellent design includes sections of old tracks and iron railings and the concrete slabs on the trail make room for many sections of natural plant and grass varieties that were part of the old abandoned corridor's natural landscape. Highlights of the trail were the beautiful design elements of the trail itself, the glass art display at the Chelsea Market spur symbolizing the varieties of color reflected of the Hudson river and the views and reflections of the Frank Gehry building along the northern section of the trail. Highly recommended!
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