The High Line is an unexpected oasis a few stories up on the West Side of Manhattan. Families will especially enjoy the park’s numerous delightful settings.
The High Line, a stunning addition to New York City Parks, is a fabulous place to spend a day with your kids while enjoying yourself. This elevated park is fully accessible by means of elevators and stairs at various intervals along its currently renovated path from Gansevoort Street all the way up to 30th Street West of 10th Avenue in Manhattan, with strategic parking areas along its route. Eventually, it will be a 1.5 mile-long nature conservancy and walkway.
Given its unique structure based on its former status as a freight rail path to keep trains off the pedestrian street level, the High Line now affords spectacular views of the surrounding city, and designers James Corner Field Operations and architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro have created so many charming and beautiful spaces, plantings, and sights that a day of exploration will delight visitors of all ages. On certain days, there are organized activities for families, and many discoveries of possible on your own.
Leveling the Field for Younger Visitors to New York
First of all, the High Line is located, well, up high. For some small visitors, this is by itself a treat. At street level, New York City can be a daunting place. At various points on the High Line, there are spectacular views of The Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, along with the New York Piers and the New Jersey Coast. Being a few levels up gives everyone a new perspective on the architecture and variety of the city.
Second, the High Line celebrates nature. During a recent walk there, I chatted with a few of the gardeners, from whom I learned that the entire area had to be replanted during the renovation, and the landscapers worked to replant indigenous species along with others that thrive well. The multilevel architectural forms and concrete track allow visitors of all heights to make discoveries of plants, birds, insects — butterflies in New York! — and a beautiful interplay of human efforts in nature.
It is clear that a photographer can choose one theme and not run out of opportunities for new material. Rows of painters take up residence in chairs provided at the site. If it’s a hot day, there is even a fountain for cooling your feet. A large shaded area in the downtown section provides space for gelato sales and other refreshments, and there are some restrooms. The Great Lawn at 23rd Street, which is closed periodically to restore the grass, provides a space for picnics.
Four Score Years Ago and Now
Third, the High Line honors its history by teaching it through the renovated architecture of the structure. During the 1930s, it removed freight from the street level; currently it raises pedestrians above the vehicular traffic in the former Meatpacking, Chelsea, and Hell’s Kitchen districts. The new pathways mimic track structure and slope gently to keep people and strollers on track.