Sunday, 22 November 2009

Walking the High Line




Yesterday we ventured into Manhattan to explore The High Line.

A former elevated railway line, it once delivered freight above the streets of New York City. When it fell out of use in the early 80s, wild grasses and flowers started to seed and grow among its tracks. This summer, a section of the High Line in the Meatpacking District reopened as a park. A wooden boardwalk has been built alongside the old tracks, which have been planted up with grasses, flowers and trees in the spirit of the wilderness that grew there for so many years.

Everything is beautifully designed, from the wild gardens to the sleek benches and chairs to the wooden sunloungers that line the walkway. You can wander along and watch the yellow taxis cruise the city streets below, admire the Manhattan skyline and rooftops, see the top of the Empire State building, and glimpse the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge in the middle distance. There's even a guy selling hot cocoa and cookies along the way.

It's a wonderful place to take kids; not only can they run ahead to their heart's content, there's no need to worry about them being mown down by a maniac cab driver if they step off the pavement. They can climb on the wooden benches, pretend to go to sleep on the loungers and there's even a kind of viewing gallery at one point, with stone bench seating, that was crawling with tiny children using it as their own personal playground. The Littleboys were in their element.

During the summer, the High Line was apparently so popular that they had to restrict access because of overcrowding. But on a mild, sunny November Day, there were just the right number of tourists and New Yorkers enjoying the view (and being a hip new attraction, it was a good place to spot Beautiful People).
The whole thing is a great example of how design, creativity and inspirational architecture can add something valuable to a cityscape, and find a new use for existing infrastructure. I hope London's urban planners take note.
Back home, after pizza and a trip to the playground in Washington Square, we watched Woody Allen's Manhattan on DVD (I'd never seen it before). A fitting end to the perfect New York day.

12 comments:

Nicola said...

Sounds like a perfect day out. I need to plan more of these with the boys...particuarly because we might be snowed in within a couple of months. Glad you had such a lovely time (and I agree, the perfect day out is a place where the boys can run untethered and free without you watching with your heart in your mouth.)

angelsandurchinsblog said...

I just love slightly wilder places within a city, and this sounds as though it's got it all. Views, things to climb, plants to admire AND cookies. No wonder the boys had a great time. Hope you saw some of Manhattan's pooches there, out for a trot/show off with their beautiful owners?

Mud in the City said...

How blissful! You can't beat some unencumbered running about.

Insomniac Mummy said...

It sounds brilliant. Wish I could go one day. Sigh.

Liberty London Girl wrote about it earlier this year too.

I will get to NYC one day! I wiil I will I will!!

x

Mwa said...

I clicked on that first picture. In combination with your description, it made me feel calm. Lovely.

A Modern Mother said...

My ex-brother-in-law (long story) had a business in the meatpacking area in the 80s -- so I can just picture this. How wonderful! I miss NY!

Potty Mummy said...

I heard about this - it sounds fantastic. What a great day out!

nappy valley girl said...

Nicola - it is amazing how much less stressful it is when you are not walking on a street!

Angels & Urchins - yes, saw lots of pampered pooches - Manhattan really is a place for small, yappy doggies...

Mud - anything to wear them out...and yes, it was blissful up there

IM - well if you do make it out here, I'd very pleased to show you around....

Mwa - very calming. A real oasis in the city.

Susanna - I understand the area has changed a great deal over the last decade. It looks like a great place to go for food and cocktails (although being with the boys we were somewhat restricted!)

PM - It is definitely a must-do if you are ever in New York.

Lorna Harris said...

My husband walked around the High Line when he was in NY last summer. I was so envious, I'd love to go. Sounds like our boys would love it too.

How lucky that you can pop into NY for the day, I'm very envious!

Hot Cross Mum said...

Wow, it sounds amazing. I am ashamed to admit I've never been to NY - have a plan though for my 40th in 2011! Meanwhile, back in a suburb of Dublin, the rain pours down.......:)

nappy valley girl said...

Lorna - it is one of the highlights of living here, I have to say.

HCM - You must come! you must. Mind you it's raining here today too...

A Confused Take That Fan said...

They do things so much better than here. Can you imagine the same in England? Probably run over budget and charge you a fortune to get in? Mind you, the parks in London are lovely. But it very much sounds to me like you are falling in love...