When the humidity soars in New York City (as it tends to do in summer), a novel way to catch a breeze and escape the tourist crowds is to slip downtown for a stroll on the High Line. Emily Chaplin Krug shares her experience on this New York gem.
Open since June 2009, the High Line is an innovative city park that runs along a former above-ground train line on the West Side of Manhattan from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 20th Street (construction is underway to extend the park north to 34th Street).
On a recent sweltering Sunday morning (at 8 a.m. my shirt was already soaked and clinging to me), I stumbled upon a stairwell access to the High Line. Emerging onto the broad open-air pathway I experienced immediate relief–both physical and mental (being above the hectic streets delivered a soothing effect to my psyche).
As I walked the length of the park, I encountered a few tourists, but far from the throngs you’ll find heading to the top of the Empire State Building (though granted, that is another decent spot to track down moving air in the city). For the most part, the crowd appeared to be local: parents strolling babies, families ambling and chatting. A foursome dined on a breakfast spread they had toted up from the Chelsea Market. At the park’s numerous tables and benches, people typed away on laptops or leisurely read their books and the Sunday Times.
Beyond offering mere space for relaxation, the High Line holds art exhibits, walking tours, and other organized activities throughout the summer. Every Tuesday in July, you can join a fitness classes in the morning and telescope stargazing (weather permitting) at dusk. On August 12th, the park will host a free Salsa and Mambo dancing event, complete with dance lessons and live music.
Green spaces also proliferate throughout the park. The grassy areas flanking the walkway blossom with wildflowers and plantings that feel casual and fun. According to a park placard, the landscaping was designed specifically to “echo the wild, self-seeded landscape that grew up … when the trains stopped running.” On August 3rd, gardeners will offer walking tours of the park. “Wild Wednesday” activities for children, held on July 28th and August 25th, also provide fun (and free) opportunities for kids to explore and learn about the park’s flora and fauna.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Alas, my High Line experience was short-lived. Within two blocks of (begrudgingly) descending from the park, I had returned to my original state of hot-and-sweaty-mess. I could easily, I fantasized, while away a full day on one of the park’s chaise lounges–reading, enjoying the view and perhaps indulging in an afternoon siesta. I’d climb down eventually of course … just in time to hit the sun-relieved city streets for dinner.
Details about all High Line events, including costs and registration information for ticketed activities, can be found on the park’s website.
Photo: Emily Chaplin Krug