Walking the High Line

North America | | August 20, 2010 at 5:23 am


Are you fed up of Central Park and need a change? If yes, then the answer for you has just presented itself in the form of Manhattan’s High Line. This was earlier a disused aerial railway, which will now be reborn as what can be described as a lush garden.

Getting Acquainted with New York’s High Line

What was first described as being as a lump of rusty iron thrown in with some reinforced concrete was, in reality, a window to the era that had gone by. Until the 1980s, the tracks of High Line had been responsible for freighting the goods from factories. It ran from the 34th street to Chelsea. Given this setting, you wouldn’t imagine it as the natural backdrop for a park. But that is what it is set to become soon!

New York High Line

Soon To Be a Park

Even the most inquisitive of New Yorkers would have been oblivious to the existence of this elevated railway track that runs a good distance of 1 ½ miles. This abandoned patch of land had become, what can now soon be called, ‘a garden in the sky’. It had begun housing monarch butterflies, saplings and wild grass.

This ‘piece of junk’ as it was known by the people who were aware of its pitiful existence, is now going to become a park, which is being touted as a park capable of giving Central Park a run for its money.

New York high line elevated park

The Experience

When you climb the stairs up to the rail bed, you’ll notice the manic planting. Benches have been installed, old rail tracks have been reinstalled, and hazelnut trees and cherry blossoms stand upright attempting to kiss the skies.

Watching those pine trees sway in the breeze will have a calming effect on even the most stressed-out ones among us.

New York high line

The View

The best part, perhaps, is the view. Stand up there, and you’ll be greeted by the serenity of the Hudson River on the left; and awed by the Manhattan skyline on the right.

Manhattan Skyline

Below the Woodland

Right below the woodland lies what the designers call ‘the slow stairs’. This is right at the crossroads between Washington Streets and Gansevoort. Here lies what is one of the High Line’s main entrance points. There are some futuristically beautiful steel steps that rise to walkway (the slow stairs).

Blast from the Past

This one has managed to look so different now, that it is, in fact, tough to imagine it as the grim West Side that it was in the 1900s. The dangerous street level trains which were dissected by the Tenth Avenue. What a far cry from that image, we say! Very often pedestrians would get hit here; and that is exactly how this place earned the name of ‘Death Avenue’.

The High Line saw its first run in the year 1934 and soon after the Great Depression caused its fair share of troubles. By the time the 1950s came about, the High Line had gotten usurped; and come the 60s, it was hardly being used anymore. Rather aptly, the last train to run here was a three box car train carrying frozen turkeys.

In the year 1999, then mayor, Rudy Giuliani had approved of its destruction. It was at this point in time that two of the neighborhood boys came together – Joshua David and Robert Hammond – and formed what was known as ‘Friends of the High Line’. According to them, it would be a great idea to have a park that could weave through the city like a giant green ribbon. They said that it was a choice that had to be made; either the railway line could be ripped out; and that would mean the city would left with a huge pile of junk; or it could be converted into a park by planting trees to make it beautiful.

The project that started then, has now reached completion, a decade later. Make a trip down to New York’s High Line and walk around the city’s giant green ribbon.

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