The High Line is truly an urban “park.”
Actually, it is a former elevated train trestle that was reconfigured into a walkway lined with various trees, lush shrubs, colorful perennials and stretches of grass, spanning roughly 22 city blocks on Manhattan’s West Side.
My photos here aren’t so much of the High Line, but mostly the views it affords of Chelsea, the Meatpacking District and beyond. At its northern end, the pebble-dash concrete walkway wraps around Hudson Yards, which is filled with Long Island Rail Road cars, an area that offers open, expansive views of the inner city and the neighboring Hudson River, as well as vistas of avenues abuzz with traffic.
As High Line-goers stroll the heart of the walkway, though, they pass many area lower-level buildings that have been restored or rebuilt to sport retro architecture that beckons a bygone era when freight trains chugged along the trestle’s tracks.Meanwhile, the many buildings with stainless steel, metallic and glass facades that abut the structure speak of the modernity that has infused its neighborhoods.
What I enjoy about certain parks in Manhattan, particularly the tree-dominated Central or Riverside parks, is that they allow you to get lost in their woods, offering a temporary shrouding from the concrete, steel and glass that are the city. But also how, in other spots, the city’s stately buildings peek over treetops, a true marriage of nature and the man-made. Not so with the High Line.
Yes, the High Line is a beautifully repurposed stretch of industry, with its artfully designed wooden recliners and sleek benches that emerge seamlessly from the walkway, and rail tracks and ties appear throughout to recall its original use. But it is not a traditional park—far too narrow to support a baseball diamond, for example, and there’s no getting lost among its trees.
That’s why the urban surroundings are so integral to its experience. A fact perhaps underscored best by the Empire State Building, which checks in often, above or between buildings of lesser stature, to remind High Line-goers that it is the city’s — and the world’s — iconic skyscraper. It’s sightings such as this that put the “urban” in this so-called park.