A visit to New York City usually involves a visit to many popular venues that define the city that never sleeps. Notable landmarks include Times Square, Radio City Music Hall, Grand Central Terminal, the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Bridge, and South Street Seaport, among many others. One must-see, outdoor venue, especially during the warm-weather months, is the High Line.
The High Line is an old, West Side elevated rail line used for freight trains from the 1930s until 1980 when the last train ran before Thanksgiving. During the early 2000s, it was transformed into a botanical garden with an open walkway that stretches 1.45 miles (from Gansevoort Street to West Thirty-fourth Street).
Know that while the redesign of a rail line that was once part of the New York Central Railroad is a welcomed urban renewal that beautifies a Manhattan West Side neighborhood, its transformation is much more than a facelift to a historical transportation structure. Its very presence, according to the High Line’s webpage, is intended to be symbolic of how public space can be put to good, horticultural use in an urban setting and help promote the importance of protecting the environment.
The immediate impression I felt, when I first visited the High Line in 2017, was one of a horticultural oasis. Other visitors whom I have spoken with have reported this same impression and for very good reasons.
The city skyline serves as a beautiful backdrop for the entire stretch of the elevated greenway with lush vegetation of diverse species, small and large, all around. The displays of various sculptures and murals add culture and artistic refinement. And the seating all along this linear botanical park together with several eateries speaks to the expectation of visitors to sit and relax, not hurry through in a manner typical of a New Yorker. Add the tours, social and cultural events, and performing arts to the mix, and what you have is a quintessential urban escape that provides leisure, recreation, and comfort in the context of a botanical experience.
Now, some of you may ask, “What is the High Line like during the autumn and winter months?” While the warm-weather months does provide the opportunity to enjoy its vibrant plant life, know that it’s also a venue to enjoy all year around. It remains a great walkway in the absence of the botanical experience and continues to give visitors beautiful views of the city’s architectural landscape and the Hudson River along with access to social and cultural events.
So if you happen to be visiting the Big Apple or are a resident who has yet to experience the elevated greenway, I highly recommend that you make time to walk through this urban oasis and, perhaps, take the time to sit and relax to admire your surroundings.
For more information about the High Line, go to https://www.thehighline.org/
Photo credit: The Health-promoting Bandwagon
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