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Tours in New York – Exploring The High Line

Tours in New York – Exploring The High Line

The High Line Park is built on the disused southern portion of the West Side Line running to the Lower West Side of Manhattan. It runs from Gansevoort Street – three blocks below 14th Street – in the Meatpacking District, through Chelsea, to the northern edge of the West Side Yard on 34th Street near the Javits Convention Center.


A visual story by Lucas Compan

From Freights to Flowers

The High Line (also known as the High Line Park) is a 1.45-mile-long (2.33km) New York City linear park built in Manhattan on an elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad spur called West Side Line.

Inspired by the 3-mile (4.8-kilometer) Promenade plantée (tree-lined walkway), a similar project in Paris completed in 1993, the High Line has been redesigned as an aerial greenway and rails-to-rails park.

The recently opened spur extends above 30th Street to Tenth Avenue. Formerly, the West Side Line went as far south as a railroad terminal to Spring Street just north of Canal Street; however, most of the lower section was demolished in 1960, with another small portion of the lower section being demolished in 1991.


At the Gansenvoort Street end, which runs north-south, the stub end over Gansevoort Street is named the Tiffany and Co. Foundation Overlook, dedicated in July 2012; the foundation was a major backer of the park. Then, it passes under The Standard hotel, and through a passage at 14th Street. At 14th Street, the High Line is split into two sides of different elevations; the Diller-Von Furstenberg Water Feature, opened in 2010, is featured on the lower side, and a sundeck on the upper side.

American Native Planting

Most of the planting, which includes 210 species, is of rugged meadow plants, including clump-forming grasses, liatris, and coneflowers, with scattered stands of sumac and smokebush, but not limited to American natives. At the Gansevoort Street end, a grove of mixed species of birch already provides some dappled shade by late afternoon. 

Ipê timber for the built-in benches has come from a managed forest certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, to ensure sustainable use and the conservation of biological diversity, water resources, and fragile ecosystems.

Repurposing of the railway into an urban park began construction in 2006, with the first phase opening in 2009, and the second phase opening in 2011. The third and final phase officially opened to the public on September 21, 2014. A short stub above Tenth Avenue and 30th Street, is still closed as of September 2014, but will open by 2017, once the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project is completed. The project has spurred real estate development in the neighborhoods that lie along the line. As of September 20145 the park gets nearly 6 million visitors annually.

Chelsea Market

Then, the High Line passes under the Chelsea Market, a food hall, at 15th Street. A spur connecting the viaduct to the National Biscuit Company building splits off at 16th Street; this spur is closed to the public. The Tenth Avenue Square, an amphitheater located on the viaduct, is at 17th Street, where the High Line cross over Tenth Avenue from southeast to northwest. At 23rd Street, there is the 23rd Street Lawn, a lawn where visitors can rest. Then, between 25th and 26th Streets, a ramp takes visitors above the viaduct, with a scenic overlook facing east at 26th Street. The Philip A. and Lisa Maria Falcone Flyover, as it is called, is named after two major donors to the park

Creative Culture

The High Line Park also has cultural attractions. As part of a long-term plan for the park to host temporary installations and performances of various kinds. Creative Time, Friends of the High Line, and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation commissioned The River That Flows Both Ways by Spencer Finch as the inaugural art installation. 

The work is integrated into the window bays of the former Nabisco Factory loading dock, as a series of 700 purple and grey colored glass panes. Each color is exactly calibrated to match the center pixel of 700 digital pictures, one taken every minute, of the Hudson River, therefore presenting an extended portrait of the river that gives the work its name.

Creative Time worked with the artist to realize the site-specific concept that emerged when he saw the rusted, disused mullions of the old factory, which metal and glass specialists Jaroff Design helped to prepare and reinstall.

The summer of 2010 featured a sound installation by Stephen Vitiello, composed from bells heard through New York. Lauren Ross, formerly director of the alternative art space White Columns, served as the first curator for the High Line Park.

During the construction of the second phase between 20th and 30th Streets, several artworks were installed including, Sarah Sze's "Still Life with Landscape (Model for a Habitat)" a sculpture made of steel and wood, located on the line near 20th and 21st Streets. This structure was built as a house for fauna such as birds and butterflies. Kim Beck's "Space Available" was installed on the roofs of three buildings visible from the southern end.

Also installed during the second phase of construction was Julianne Swartz's "Digital Empathy", a work that utilizes audio messages at restrooms, elevators, and water fountains.

Real Estate Development

The recycling of the railway into an urban park brought revitalization of Chelsea, which had been "gritty" and in generally poor condition in the late twentieth century.

It has also spurred real estate development in the neighborhoods that lie along the line. Residents who have bought apartments next to the High Line Park have adapted to its presence in varying ways, but most responses are positive; some, however, claim that the park became a "tourist-clogged catwalk" since it opened.The real estate boom has not been victimless, however, many well-established businesses in west Chelsea have closed due to loss of neighborhood customer base or rent increases.

The City and the Hudson River

The Park's attractions include naturalized planting that are inspired by the landscape that grew on the disused tracks, and views of the city and the Hudson River. The trail is made of pebble-dash concrete walkways that swells and constricts, swings from side to side, and divides into concrete tines that meld the hardscape with the planting embedded in railroad gravel mulch. Stretches of track and ties recall the High Line's former use. Portions of track are adaptively re-used for rolling lounges positioned for river views

The High Line Effect

The success of the High Line in New York City has encouraged the leaders of other cities

The success of the High Line in New York City has encouraged the leaders of other cities, such as Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, who see it as "a symbol and catalyst" for gentrifying neighborhoods.

Several cities also have plans to renovate some railroad infrastructure into park land, including Philadelphia and St. Louis. In Chicago, where the Bloomingdale Trail, a 2.7-mile (4.3 km) long linear park on former railroad infrastructures, will run through several neighborhoods.

In Queens, the Queensway, a proposed aerial rail trail, is being considered for reactivation along the right-of-way of the former LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch. 

Other cities around the world are planning elevated rails-to-trails parks. One writer called this the "High Line effect."


The Whitney Museum of American Art opened its new building on Gansevoort Street, next to the base of the High Line, in 2015, pictured here in 2016. The Whitney is one of the museums in New York you should plan a visit, during your next trip to New York.

Whitney Museum of American Art. Photograph by Nic Lehoux


Chelsea is a neighborhood on the West Side of the borough of Manhattan in New York City. The district's boundaries are roughly 14th Street to the south and the Hudson River and West Street to the west, with the northern boundary variously described as 30th Street or 34th Street, and the eastern boundary as either Sixth Avenue or Fifth Avenue. To the north of Chelsea is the neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen, also known as "Clinton", as well as the Hudson Yards; to the northeast is the Garment District; to the east are NoMad and the Flatiron District; to the southwest is the Meatpacking District; and to the southeast is Greenwich Village and the West Village.


How to Get There

At the end of the High Line (34th Street and 11th Avenue) you will find New York City's 469th subway station, extending the 7 line to 34th Street-Hudson Yards. It is New York's first new station in 25 years.

Have Fun!



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