Looking for a great, free and endlessly interesting outdoor activity in New York? Try the High Line, Manhattan’s elevated park on the Lower West Side.
Built on what was once an elevated railway line, the High Line is now a lush, green walkway with expansive views of the Hudson River and some of the best people-watching vantage points in the city. A walk along any section of the elevated park will feature languages from all over the world, kids frolicking on the restored railway bed and all manner of New Yorkers taking in the fresh air.
For those of us who lived in or visited the city in years past, it’s easy to remember the Manhattan elevated railway as a derelict hulk, fit only for pigeons and adventurous individuals. The railway was actually slated for demolition during the Giuliani administration; local building owners lobbied for its removal because they thought it was decreasing the value of their properties.
Ironically, the High Line has since become an economic engine that has contributed mightily to the value of nearby real estate; it’s even been the impetus for development projects like the new Whitney Museum, which is located at the High Line’s Gansevoort Street entrance.
The High Line meanders up the west side of Manhattan, starting in Greenwich Village at Gansevoort and extending north to 34th Street. The section that runs east and west above 30th Street offers particularly gorgeous views of the river and the Midtown skyline. Vestiges of the railway’s past can be found throughout the path, with such notable touches as rolling lounge chairs mounted on the old train tracks.
Designed for industrial delivery, the original railway runs right through a number of buildings so that workers could load and unload cargo.
Today they provide a singular walking experience that gives people the opportunity to wind through New York’s history, both indoors and out. Food vendors, shaded areas and myriad other spectacles occupy many of these indoor spaces.
Inspired by the Promenade Plantée in Paris, the High Line now has its own imitators and it’s inspiring cities around the country to investigate rails-to-trails elevated parks of their own. Here are a few important details you’ll need in order to truly take advantage of our new, beloved High Line:
- It has eleven entrances in all. Five of the entrances are accessible to people with disabilities, via elevator: these are located at Gansevoort Street, 14th Street, 16th Street, 23rd Street, and 30th
- The entrances with stairs-only access to the elevated park are at 18th Street, 20th Street, 26th Street, 28th Street, and 11th
- The elevated park is open daily with varying hours throughout the year: 7 a.m. – 7 pm. in the winter, 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. in the spring and fall, and 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. in the summer.