The High Line is Manhattan’s newest must-see darling with a story that goes back to when Rudy Giuliani lived in Gracie Mansion as mayor of New York City. Giuliani wanted to tear down the old eye sore, disused rail lines. Downtown residents wanted to save them as a tangible link to the neighborhood’s industrial past. Guiliani won the first round or two, tearing down most of the abandoned rail line, but the residents won the match when the section between Gansevoort Street and 34th Street was left standing.
In the ensuing years, a remarkable thing happened: A one-of-a-kind elevated public-private partnership park was created, and it has been a huge hit, transforming the surrounding neighborhood into one of New York’s most sought after hot spots.
Overrun with visitors enjoying the views of the Hudson River as well as the preponderance of fashion models and photographers who stay at the Standard Hotel that straddles the High Line, during the summer months, the High Line is usually teeming with people. This long, thin elevated park is planted with carefully selected and propagated vegetation that can survive the often harsh winds off the Hudson and the shallow soil conditions. Much of the rail line has been left in place as planting beds. There are benches and lounge chairs for visitors to enjoy the people watching and the westerly views. There is fabulous public art on view and always something going on.
However, one of the wonderful things about New York City is that it has seasons. Last week it snowed, transforming this usually people-populated park into a white-washed, quiet, meditative destination. Gone were the models and photographers, and the hordes of tourists waiting for their chance at a lounge chair. Instead, there was a stark, quiet beauty as the snow crystals slowly melted from the bushes and trees. Certainly not devoid of people, while wearing its wintry wardrobe, the High Line felt like a comfortable neighborhood park rather than a top-10 NYC destination. Next time you are in Chelsea, winter or summer, LOOK UP and check out the wonderful park that is the High Line.
p.s. The second section of the High Line, above 20th Street, opens this spring. I can hardly wait to share that with you! The opening date for the third and final section of the High Line, extending all the way to 34th Street, is yet to be announced.