The Road Less Travelled: Walking NYC's High Line

The Road Less Travelled: Walking NYC’s High Line

Chances are you’ll walk miles while uncovering the concrete jungle. From museum to gallery, park to theatre and café to bistro, sometimes the easiest way to get around Manhattan is by using your own two legs. This is especially true when traffic clogs the streets and/or the thought of waiting underground for a train – note: I’m referring to one that’s running more than 10 minutes behind schedule – is maddening.

Aside from getting from point A to B with relative ease, walking around Manhattan is a lovely way to take in the architecture, people watch to your heart’s content and to enjoy the multitude of green spaces the city has to offer. One green walk-worthy place, on Manhattan’s West Side, is the NYC High Line: a public park/walkway built atop an antiquated rail line that runs above street level.

Let's get started. At the West 30th Street entrance.

Let’s get started. At the West 30th Street entrance.

View from the High Line.

View from the High Line.

Running a little over two kilometres (roughly 1.4 miles for my American comrades) from the Meatpacking District all the way up to the border between Chelsea and the Garment District (one of the closest major subway/train stops is Penn Station) the High Line is 2,333 metres of urban pavement pounding up on high. The High Line came into being thanks to the guile of West Side community members in 1999. After fighting to preserve the historic structure and old rail ties,they eventually got the city behind them and the first section of the High Line was opened for public use in 2009. The second, which incorporates everything between West 20th and 30th, opened in June 2011.

Fabulous urban art that can be viewed from the High Line.

Fabulous urban art that can be viewed from the High Line.

For the days when it gets absurdly hot. Cool off your feet in a burbling stream.

For the days when it gets absurdly hot. Cool off your feet in a burbling stream.

I could wax poetic about the beauty of the city from above street level, the smell of the newly blossomed flowers and the rich colours of the trees that hang overhead, but really you have to do the walk for yourself. It’s not quite a park and it’s not quite a foot path. Like so many things in New York, it’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that and it does it all rather well. It’s a park/space in the city I’ve been to twice so far, and I have a sneaky feeling it’s going to be a walk I’ll be taking again and again, particularly in the early fall and spring seasons. Times of the year when the temperature drops a couple of degrees and the sun sits lower in the sky.

Eat. Tired + hungry? There are cafes to stop at and refuel.

Eat. Tired + hungry? There are places where you can stop and refuel.

The High Line is quipped with just about everything: e.g. there are free restrooms at the 16th Street access point, though be prepared to wait it out for a good 10-15 minutes if you’re female (why are women’s WCs always packed?) and especially if you find yourself walking on a weekend between the hours of 11:00 and 16:00. Water fountains are scattered at various points along the path and certain sections are designated for food carts/cafés. That way, if you find yourself peckish at some point during your walk, you won’t go hungry by a long stretch.

This Intolerant walks the High Line. Take along an umbrella or stupidly big hat if you're somewhat intolerant to the sun.

This Intolerant walks the High Line. Take along an umbrella or stupidly big hat if you’re somewhat intolerant to the sun.

Additionally, there are various entrances to accesses the High Line, but if you plan to go from one end to the other: start your journey at Gansevoort Street or West 30th.

It’s a walk to remember – at least in terms of urban standards – so get a move on. 

High Line opening hours:
07:00 – 19:00 (summer hours are until 23:00).