Sunday, August 05, 2012

A Taste of the 'High' Life

On Saturday we took the kids to see the High Line, a converted railway that opened as a park and "aerial greenway" in 2009. (A second phase of the project was added last year.)

The High Line has quickly become a New York landmark, and it's certainly one of the most unique urban parks in the United States.

After all, how many parks do you get to via elevator?

The High Line extends a mile through Chelsea, with plants, bushes and flowers lining the way. It provides views of both old Chelsea (with its graffiti, crumbling brick tenements and warehouses) and new Chelsea (gleaming condo developments and trendy restaurants).

The New York Times had a story on Wednesday about how the residents who live along the High Line have to get comfortable being exhibitionists, and it's true; you look right into people's apartments.

My main question is whether the High Line is more of a novelty and tourist attraction than a real neighborhood resource. If I lived in Chelsea, I probably wouldn't go there for typical park activities. It has no play structures and not much grass to sit on (there's a patch of green called the 23rd Street Lawn, but little else).

No dogs or bicycles are allowed on the High Line either. I did see a few joggers, but with all the tourists around, it can't be much fun to run stop-and-start for a mile.

The kids had a great time scampering down the trail, and Elliot marveled at "how high up" we were (odd for someone who lives on the 19th floor).

But by the time we reached the other end of the path, near Chelsea Market, everyone was hot, tired and hungry. Fortunately, we found the food area before the kids had a complete meltdown.

A number of food vendors have set up shop near 15th Street, where there's a covered walkway that was surprisingly cool and breezy. (The food was good too; I highly recommend a hot dog from BARK.)

It was so pleasant, it almost made me wish the entire High Line had been covered. But then you might as well just walk through an airport concourse.