Above it all: Manhattan’s High Line

Manhattan works 24/7, without a break. It’s where things happen; it’s the world’s muse. Its avenues are well-trodden, meaning the roads are in continual need of repair. It is where the hot dog and pretzel stands are as ubiquitous as the yellow cabs. But, sometimes all of this hubbub gets too much to deal, and that’s when I head to Manhattan’s High Line.

The High Line

The Standard Hotel

Elevated city view

I first read about the High Line in a travel magazine a few years ago and remember thinking how great it was make something new from something old. Here, 30-foot high abandoned railway tracks have been converted into usable public green space, which is named the High Line. The railway tracks faced demolition in 1999, and this gave rise to a community group  – Friends of the High Line – who came to the rescue with the High Line proposition. The project was approved by the City of New York.

The Standard Hotel

Autumnal colours against the Hudson

Birch trees and grass

The park opened in two phases. The first phase (2009) spanned the area between the Meatpacking District, by Gansevoort Street, and up to 20th Street. Phase two opened this year, in 2011, and extends the walkway to 30th Street. The final phase, between 30th and 34th streets, called High Line at the West Side Rail Yards, is being construction.

Iin October 2011, the Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation, founded by the fashion designer, Diane von Furstenberg, and her husband, Barry Diller, made a $20 million commitment to the High Line. This is the largest single private contribution to a public park in New York City’s history and will be put towards this final stretch of the project.

Factories and warehouses hug the High Line

Undercover windows

Fragments of the past

Just when you thought New York was packed to the rafters, up goes the Standard Hotel and a new few condominiums by the High Line. With Hudson River views to one side, and city views from elsewhere, it’s a great spot to buy some real estate, which also comes with a 1.45-mile garden.

Frank Gehry’s IAC building (left); condos (right)


… and more condos.

In addition to making the walk from uptown to downtown more pleasurable, the High Line hosts interactive public art installations, performances, open air film screenings and exhibits.


The success of the High Line has been two-fold: it has not only drawn two million visitors annually, but it has also inspired another green space project dubbed the “Low Line.” The Low Line hopes to restore a former trolley terminal under Delancey Street (Lower East Side), into an underground park. Read more here: NYTimes.com

The High Line has rehabilitated and preserved an essential part of New York’s history. Influenced by its Parisian predecessor, the Promenade Plantée – an elevated park built around a similar rail viaduct and inaugurated in 1993 – Manhattan’s High Line has furthered interest for industrial restoration closer to home. Similar projects are in early stages in St. Louis, Philadelphia, Jersey City, and Chicago.

A linear view

Hudson River views

A great blog about Promenade Plantée can be found here:

Paris’ Promenade Plantée: The original High Line park | On the Luce.


50 thoughts on “Above it all: Manhattan’s High Line

  1. What a great concept. I wish Kuwait would do this to parts of the old city.

    Now I can’t wait for a trip to NY to walk the High Line.

    • My pleasure – I am glad that you enjoyed it. Will you be visiting soon? I know that the High Line has changed its hours for winter – from 7am until 7pm – though there’s more info on their website! Look forward to seeing you blog about it when you go! Have a good weekend 🙂

    • Hi Tom – thanks! I had also only seen Phase I before I visited again a few days ago… and Phase II is alot greener and a really great extension. It was definitely a highlight for me to see it. The hours do change for winter (7am until 7pm) and the leaves are starting to fall. It’s so peaceful up there. Let me know if you post the video!

  2. Thanks for the great pics and history. I’d heard about the high line but until now, have known little and seen even less. Now it’s on the must-visit list the next time I’m in those parts!

  3. Great shots Marina! I love the whole concept of this, really well thought out details and you’ve captured it so beautifully! Definitely on my places to visit in NYC list when I make i there.

    • Thank you Karen! It is a great concept and I am so grateful for it. I’m looking forward to seeing the final phase – though not sure when that will be. It will be great to see the whole project fully complete.

    • Thank you! I am so glad you read my post about the High Line. It’s such a good idea and the best thing about the project is that it started off with residents getting together to save the rail road from demolition. A very spirited project!

  4. Hey, thanks for the “like” on my blog post! I really like the image labelled “Frank Gehry’s IAC building (left); condos (right)” the angle is really nice plus i like the colours on the buildings!!

    • Hi! Of course – I press ‘Like’ on what I like 🙂 Thanks for the compliment about the photo. Those three look so good together don’t they? The Gehry building lights up at night and is meant to have the effect of a lantern. When i am there during that time, i’ll snap some photos to share 🙂

  5. Thanks for the link to my Promenade Plantée piece! Lovely photos and article – I was out in New York just last week so took a walk on the High Line and was interesting to compare the two places. The High Line was definitely a lot busier than the Promenade Plantée but I really liked how they’d incorporated elements of the railway history into the High Line, like the areas of old track. And it was very handy to be able to get a coffee up there!

    • Hi Lucy – thanks for your comment! Your post was fantastic – I was awed by the photos and the story of Promenade Plantée. Does it not have any railway tracks incorporated into it? I wonder what the third phase of NY’s High Line has in store… For me, being on the fringe of Manhattan in such a setting is a great way to spend a day ‘away from the city’!

    • Thanks! It’s really cool and you will get to see the whole thing complete if you visit in a couple of years (no definite time given for the date of completion – I am just guessing). If you’re in Paris, they have one there also which was actually where the concept was first thought up.

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  7. Nice post!

    I agree with saarimner–the “Undercover windows” photo is lovely.

    I’ve been running on the High Line a couple times; it’s a nice change of pace from the Riverside Park, and of course it’s a lovely break from the crazy city.

    • Thanks Josy! That would be a great spot to run, especially as it gets longer with its added phases. The second phase is so beautiful and green. I definitely feel a world away up there 🙂

  8. I have been wanting to visit the high line since I found out about it! Loved the article, especially the history of it and of course the future. It is so great that new Yorkers are preserving pieces of history like this and enjoying them. Great writing marina!!

    • Thanks Steph! It is beautiful up there – so tranquil yet you’re a few steps from the hustle! It’s a great space in the warmer months for sure. Not sure how it would react to the snow 🙂

  9. This was definately not what I expected when I clicked the title …its such a different view of Manhattan. Have heard so much about this walk. its an amazing way to use dead space.

    • Thanks Jenny! The High Line is so great for a place like NY and the Chelsea Market is a perfect spot for some coffee and lunch. They even have an Aussie meat pie shop in there. I was so surprised! A little taste of home 🙂

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  12. Yes, very beautiful. We have an old railroad line, here in Jerusalem, that used to bring passengers from outside the city, into the center of town. It no longer works, and the station has been replaced… but now the tracks have been turned into a running park, and it is a great place to walk, run, and bike too. Thanks for this post, Marina.

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