It is so easy to be engulfed by shadows in Midtown Manhattan where the view consists of the bricks and steel of building facades and an occasional glimpse of the sky. It can be daunting, even claustrophobic, to both residents and visitors. So, public parks become havens for those in need of the tranquility of a natural environment and the relatively open vistas they provide. Central Park with its big open fields, winding paths and natural as well as man-made attractions is an obvious place to go when the grid of caverns that comprises Midtown overwhelms.
In the past few years, The High Line, a new addition to New York City Public Parks has become a popular go-to place to stroll and take in stunning views of the Hudson River, the New Jersey shoreline and the neighborhoods between Ganesvoort Street (a few blocks south of 14th Street) and 34th Street. The High Line was built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets of Manhattan’s West Side. It is a 1.45 mile long linear park that gets about 5 million visitors annually.
The High Line is less of an escape than Central Park. If anything, it has become an attraction on the lines of the Empire State Building or The Statue of Liberty. You can hear people strolling next to you speaking German or Japanese or a number of other languages while they leisurely snap photos and stop to sit in any of a number of benches along the route. On any given day, there is some form of entertainment ranging from a mime standing in front of a seating area to a chorus singing Broadway tunes. Of course, there are numerous food carts serving all kinds of food and treats. There is a festive air about The High Line and a leisurely pace that sets it apart from most other walkways in Manhattan. It is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon or evening. The only thing that spoiled my last visit was a number of people looking like they all belonged to the same group asking for donations along one stretch of the path.