Well, four months after it opened, the TJs finally got out to visit the High Line, the marvelous raised pedestrian park on the Way West Side of Manhattan. What took us so long? Well, it’s a hike from work, the family doesn’t get into the city much, and we’d heard the High Line was, like, cursed or something.
But we made it out yesterday, a near-perfect blue skyed fall day. We easily found a parking spot on Little West 12th, did the requisite staring-at-the-sign for several minutes, wondering if it was too good to be true, then ventured across the street to the rail trail’s southern entrance.
We had a stroller, and there are dozens of stairs and no elevator at that entrance, so we had to take Little Miss C out and haul the stroller up two sets of stairs. I believe the elevator is located at 16th Street.
It being a beautiful fall day and all, the High Line was packed — lots of accents (mostly English) and lots of people snapping photos. On the ride down, stuck in Giants traffic north of the GBW, I’d promised Little G ample views of his beloved “Enterpire” State Building. We did catch one glimpse at the ol’ beauty, but the great views from the High Line are along the Hudson: ferries ferrying by, motorboats, cruise ships, and Jersey doing its jersey thing across the way.
The park is a mix of concrete walkways, boards and what High Liners call “Wild”–the fauna growing on the sides of the walkways. Park volunteers are quite adamant about keeping the Wild wild–one snapped at me for standing too close to what are essentially weeds.
We met some friends, including a very pregnant woman and their 3 1/2 year old, so we didn’t conquer the whole Line. We found seats and a table at a recessed deck area near 15th, and the kids got cupcakes from a stand along the Line. There was no line for the bathroom, and there were even a pair of attendants handing out paper towels just outside the bathroom doors.
The most unique architectural element we saw was some wooden auditorium seating built into the platform around 16th Street, with the bench seats facing a glass wall that shows traffic racing up 10th Avenue. The kids loved watching the cabs, buses and cars roll by. Dad dug it too.
The High Line was teeming with humanity yesterday, but it never felt packed, as everyone keeps moving. The vibe was very positive–everyone seemed impressed, everyone appeared happy to be there. There were plenty of seats, including some wooden platform seating affixed to the old rails that actually slid a few feet in either direction. The kids loved it–there were ramps to climb, buildings on stilts to walk under, rails just below floor level to race along (“I’m Thomas!” “No, I’m Thomas!”), and of course cupcakes to eat. Small children can peer through the walls of the rail trail at the streets below, and I didn’t see any spots where a kid was actually in danger of falling to the street.
The Missus lamented the lack of alcoholic beverages on the Line; indeed, in our previous life, it would’ve been perfect to order a beer or white wine and watch the sun slide down below Jersey. But one can certainly understand the notion of not selling booze to people walking about some 30-50 feet in the air. And there are oodles of trendy brunch spots under the Line, including the recently opened new Standard Grill (one star, NY Times); the teeming Meatpacking District surrounding the High Line is either Manhattan at its shimmery best, or the worst collection of over-trendy restaurants jammed with fading Carrie Bradshaws, depending on your take on New York.
For the more downmarket hunger victims among us, there was a perfectly adequate hot dog stand at the base of the stairs on West 12th.
One very New York-y thing I noticed: lots and lots (and lots) of people snapping photos along the High Line. But they weren’t the typical landscape–cool pedestrian park, river, skyscrapers–shots. No, in true Gotham style, these were glammy shots of friends and loved ones, attempting to look their hippest in a cool setting.
All told, a memorable visit to a compelling landmark.
[image: NY Times]