It was roughly two years ago that New York City‘s High Line Park first opened. A triumph of urban renewal and a fantastic example of reusing the existing space rather than bulldozing and starting from scratch, the High Line is simply beautiful. Since the initial section opened the non-profit group that operates the park has been working hard to extend it farther north, to the end of the train line that it is built upon. That work has paid off with the newest section opening this week. Like the rest of the High Line it is beautiful!
The park makes great use of the railroad theme, with rails and ties integrated into the landscape all along the path. There are also dozens of seating areas scattered throughout the park, some more private than others, allowing visitors to relax and watch the city below them or to enjoy each others’ company.
Several blocks of the new section are elevated above the original track level, with paths marked in the gardens but not accessible to guests. This provides an interesting effect, looking down on the garden rather than being in the middle of it.
The new section also adds a feature the original bit was lacking: grass that visitors can actually touch. Nearly all of the flora is well guarded, either by railings or ever present staff, keeping folks from playing with the flowers. The new phase adds a swath of grass perfect for a picnic, a tanning session or just a quick nap.
One of the other great features of the northern section of the park is that there aren’t many large buildings in Upper Chelsea. This allows for unobstructed views from many areas in the park towards the Empire State Building. Especially with the flowers mixed in the effect is quite lovely.
It isn’t just the humans getting the royal treatment in the new park either. Right around 23rd street there is a bird feeder/modern art installation that is quite impressive. They’ve got houses in case it rains, various bird seed and even fresh fruit available (oranges and apples the day I visited).
It is not just the new section of the park showing off this year. Several weeks ago a water feature was added around 15th Street. It is only about a half inch deep but this “pool” provides entertainment to kids of all ages.
The photo I’ve got here is of little kids but during the week it is mostly bigger kids (i.e. adults) playing in the water, including one woman performing a tap dance routine the other day. Were it not for the new section opening up this would likely be the most popular feature of the park right now.
With these new additions the High Line Park reaffirms its position as one of the nicer parks in New York. Certainly not the largest and it gets crowded at times, but it is absolutely worth a visit, if for no other reason than to be above the din of the city and getting away form it all, even while remaining right in the middle of it.
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