The High Line is a very special public park located on Manhattan’s West Side. It was built on elevated train tracks that once formed part of the New York Central Railroad’s West Side Line. Starting from Gansevoort Street, some three blocks south of West 14th Street, the High Line runs north for approximately 1.5 miles until reaching the Javits Center at West 34th Street. Along the way you’ll encounter an assortment of attractions, including art, plants, observation points, and a great deal more.
The High Line History
From the mid-19th Century until the 1920s, the New York Central Railroad ran street-level trains throughout New York City’s West Side neighborhoods. While convenient, these trains were hazardous, and over the years many pedestrians were injured or killed near railroad crossings. As a result, during the 1930s the “West Side Elevated Line” was built to remove the danger of street-level trains.
Some 50 years later, train usage in this part of New York City was in steady decline and many of its elevated tracks were demolished. However, the stretch of elevated train tracks known as the High Line escaped this fate, due to a coalition of private citizens and civic leaders who had the foresight to envision the property as something more than just a rusty old viaduct cluttering up the cityscape.
What’s at The High Line
Today, visitors to the High Line will experience that vision in all its innovative glory. In 2005, CSX Transportation donated the remaining viaducts to New York City, and the city hired a team of landscape architects, urban designers, and botanists to remake the crumbling infrastructure into something special. The result was the High Line.
The first segment of the High Line was opened in 2009, with various additional stretches being unveiled to the public upon their completion over the course of the past decade. When you get right down to it, the High Line is considered one of the 21st Century’s most significant achievements in the field of landscape architecture.
First and foremost, the High Line is a public park. It’s a place where everyone, locals and visitors alike, can go to stretch their legs, get some fresh air, and unwind in the midst of Manhattan’s many charms. Particular features of the High Line worth noting, however, include the Tiffany & Co. Foundation Overlook, an unforgettable perch that marks the southern edge of the park; the Chelsea Thicket, a lovely tree-lined stretch of track that passes between West 21st and 22nd Street; and the Philip A. and Lisa Maria Falcone Flyover, where you’ll find beautiful magnolia trees framing your view of the historic warehouses that line the path.
The High Line is also home to numerous multimedia art installations, and it regularly hosts film screenings and live performances. You most definitely won’t want to miss out on spending some quality time in its sustainably maintained garden spaces either. Hundreds of different flowers, plants, and trees grow here, each one waiting to be explored by you.
Tips for Visiting The High Line
- During the spring, summer, and fall months, the High Line runs its own food program. If you want to make a meal of the whole experience, you’ll have your pick of vendors from which to procure tasty food and drink without ever leaving the park.
- Even though the High Line is a public park, it does have hours of operation. These vary throughout the year, depending on the season.
- Unlike many public parks you might already be familiar with, the High Line doesn’t allow pets on the premises, not even dogs.
- If you visit the High Line’s official website, you can download a digital guide to the park straight to your smartphone. This useful resource provides maps, details about the High Line’s art installations, background on the site’s history, and more.
- Free guided tours of the High Line are available every Wednesday morning at 10:00m throughout the entire year. There are a few other options (at different times) offered seasonally, so check their website in advance of your visit for more information.