Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The High Line

We have been trying to get into New York City more but have been a little unsure of where to start. Rather than construct a complicated day trip, we recently kept it simple. Very simple. We took the train from out little suburban town into Penn Station. We walked out onto the city streets, past Madison Square Garden. We were shocked how quick and easy it was from our house to the Garden. But we kept walking. To the first pizza place we saw and then onto the High Line, an urban open space right in the middle of the city.
The High Line, a so called rails to trails park, modeled after a similar one in Paris, was opened in 2009 to a happy crowd of urban walkers. On the elevated steel structure of the former railroad line, visitors stroll along the repurposed train line along a walking path that meanders through the West  Side. We gazed up at buildings in the foreground, including IAC Building and the Empire State Building. We rounded a corner and spied the Statue of Liberty out in the water. Some buildings were much closer and we peered in a one hundred year old church and into apartments right up against the High Line.
In some parts of the path, the railroad lines are still visible, mostly with grasses and some trees growing amongst the railroad ties. We read that 210 plant species are now growing along the path. In some places there are actually lawns. We came across one section with lounge chairs. The whole experience was relaxing and somehow intimate. Something about the winding path, the diving through buildings and emerging into a new cityscape. Something about the level, above the street but now so very high.
The High Line took us past the Chelsea Food Market, which looked great but was a bit too crowded for us and into the meat packing district. There we found another open food market, where adults got excellent coffees and kids took multiple free samples of gourmet hot chocolate. Royce spotted her namesake Royce Chocolate, an upscale brand we knew from Hong Kong. On the street in front, she also spotted a Rolls Royce and it was clear that the meatpacking district is no longer that much about meat.
With good fruit and chocolate in hand, we started the walk back. The whole line is only a bit more than a mile, so it is not a long walk. The High Line ends at the Whitney Museum of American Art and we considered stopping in but ultimately decided to keep that for our next New York dive. We wandered back, navigated our way back to the New Jersey train line home. It all felt a little easier than last time. Amazing how a good place to walk and a good coffee to drink can make a city start to feel familiar even to homesick quasi Europeans.


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