Best Walking Tours of NYC: The Highline

Best Walking Tours of NYC: The High Line

If you’d like to experience one of the best walking tours of NYC, come visit The High Line in the art district of Chelsea.

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One of the best sightseeing attractions in the Big Apple, The High Line was once an elevated freight rail line and was later converted into this now famous elevated outdoor park.


Artisitic visions and creativity produced by the brain is an amazing trait that for years has been attributed to the right side of the brain, although in recent years the real neuroscience of creativity suggests that the right brain/left brain distinction does not offer us the full picture of how creativity is implemented in the brain. This has been a controversial topic.

However our unique brains work, their collective powers in re-creating infrastructure created the crown jewel of Chelsea is The High Line (aka The High Line Park), a truly unique converted elevated urban park running 1.45 miles along the top of an old railway line formerly called the West Side Line which once serviced transport of goods for the meat packing and produce industries for over 70 years beginning at the turn of the 20th Century.

best walking tours of NYC is the Highline

In the summertime, living in the western neighborhood of Chelsea in New York City has its wonderful advantages.

For instance, for art lovers Chelsea and its nearby surrounding districts has the highest density of contemporary art galleries of anywhere in the world, has marvelous street art, and is spearheaded by the new and highly improved Whitney Contemporary Art Museum now relocated on Gansevoort Street in the nearby Meat Packing District.

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best walking tours of NYC was borne from urban ingenuity

The High Line: Urban Ingenuity at its Best

During the summer months, it is here at the High Line only a few short blocks away from my home where I take my daily respite from my online business activities to recharge my creativity. When I need a break, I step away from my computer and walk this amazing urban landscape, and environment of juxtaposed natural topiary and urban beautification only two blocks away.

Sometimes I will drop off my dry cleaning and head there even for only one hour. No matter how long or short, I always return to my business feeling refreshed and recharged.

What a beautiful enchanted garden to have in one’s own urban backyard!

A beautiful outdoor garden near the Highline

The High Line located a short distance from the Hudson River on the west side of Manhattan island has an international flair and is a must visit for anyone coming to visit New York City for the first time, or anytime.

Visitors from every corner of the globe come here to enjoy its beautiful urban vistas, lovely plant life, interesting street vendors, special events, and particularly its outdoor art installations during the summer along the its southern section from Gansevoort Street to 23rd Street.

The Highline street view

With the recent building explosion of the new urban development and neighborhood called Hudson Yards located between West 30th and 34th Streets on the High Line’s northern end, new high end retail shops, and art installations are coming soon.

best walking tours of NYC is filled with great landscape architecture

Best Walking Tours of NYC: A Modern Icon of Landscape Architecture

The High Line has now become a modern icon in contemporary landscape architecture.

The landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations provided the innovative design team that re-imagined the existing infrastructure as a "living system" drawing from multiple disciplines - including landscape architecture, urban design, and ecology.

The High Line from yesteryear, when it was an elevated freight line

High Line Park is built on the disused southern portion of the West Side Line running to the Lower West Side of Manhattan. Running from Gansevoort Street which is three blocks below 14th Street in the Meatpacking District through the neighborhood of Chelsea, this iconic elevated urban park extends to the northern edge of the West Side Yard on 34th Street near the Jacob Javits Convention Center.

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The James Corner Field Operations design team reimagined the existing infrastructure as a "living system" drawing from multiple disciplines (including landscape architecture, urban design, and ecology) and it has become an icon in contemporary landscape architecture

The Success of the High Line

The Success of the High Line

The High Line’s success has pushed cities nationwide to reimagine obsolete infrastructure as public space. It has been redesigned and planted as an aerial greenway and rails-to-trails park. The High Line project was originally inspired by the 3-mile long Promenade Plantée (tree-lined walkway), which was a similar project completed in 1993 in Paris.

Formerly called the West Side Line, the erstwhile railway went as far south as a railroad terminal at Spring Street, just north of Canal Street. However, most of the southern section was demolished by1960, with another small portion being demolished in 1991.

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Repurposing of the railway into an urban park began in 2006. Here are the phases of The High Line’s construction and completion progress:

  • 1. The first phase the Southern section from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street was completed and opened in 2009.
  • 2. The second phase from 20th Street to 30th Street opened in June 2011.
  • 3. The third and final phase, the Northern section running from 30th Street Hudson Yards to West 34th Street near the Jacob Javits Center was completed and first opened to the public on September 21, 2014.
  • 4. A short stub above Tenth Avenue and 30th Street is still unopened as of September 2014, and will be opened by late 2017, when the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project will be complete.

The project has spurred great strides in real estate development in the neighborhoods that lie along the line and increased real estate values and prices along the route.

As of September 2014, the park gets nearly 5 million visitors annually

best walking tours of NYC are full of High Line attractions

Best Walking Tours of NYC: The High Line Attractions

What makes this elevated urban park so unique are the naturalized plantings that have been inspired by the overgrowth landscape that grew on the disused tracks, and the gorgeous views of the city and the nearby Hudson River, which collectively have become the park's main attractions.

The trail is made of pebble-dash concrete walkways that swells and constricts, swings from side to side, and divides into concrete tines that meld the hardscape with the planting embedded in railroad gravel mulch.

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"By opening the paving, we allow the plants to bleed through," said landscape architect James Corner, "almost as if the plants were colonizing the paved areas. There's a sort of blending or bleeding or suturing between the hard paving, the surface for people to stroll on, and the planting...."

There are long stretches of track and ties which recall the High Line's former use. Portions of track have been adaptively re-used for rolling lounges positioned for river views.

The 120-species plant palette, curated by Dutch landscape architect Piet Oudolf, includes rugged meadow plants such as clump-forming grasses, liatris, and coneflowers, with scattered stands of sumac and smoke bush, but not limited to American natives.

At the southern end of the High Line at Gansevoort Street, a grove of mixed species of birch provides some dappled shade by late afternoon. Ipê timber for the built-in benches has been sourced from a managed forest certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure sustainable use and the conservation of biological diversity, water resources, and fragile ecosystems.

The High Line's design "is characterized by an intimate choreography of movement”, according to James Corner Field Operations.

My Closing thoughts of the best walking tours of NYC

Best Walking Tours of NYC: Closing Thoughts

The High Line represents the amalgamation of urban ingenuity, technical engineering, artistic vision, and an optimized savvy usage of green methods promoting sustainability for an eco-friendly environment.

As exemplified by the High Line’s creators, incorporating such formidable expertise to our online and affiliate marketing businesses is paramount to achieving long term sustainable success.

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Above all, we get to learn the lesson of such urban planning geniuses while enjoying one of the best walking tours of NYC.

Thank you for reading this article, and I hope you enjoyed it. Moreover, I hope you can recognize the valuable lesson it teaches through its example of how we can apply its core concepts to our own online businesses.

Feel free to make a comment below, your comments are always welcomed!

About the Author

KAJU is the band leader and founding member of OFF THE HOOK, one of the premiere dance party bands in the New York Tri-State Area. After contracting a mysterious hand disorder, Kaju now writes to help other musicians and artists deal with disabilities. Currently he is a Full-time Affiliate Marketer and 1-on-1 mentor at Wealthy Affiliate, a community that can help anyone start an online business without prior experience. This is where he teaches others how to make a great passive income. Read more about his story here!