Bright Lights, Big City

by Nancy Bestor

lead photoThe High Line in New York City just might be one of the coolest places EVER. Take an elevated freight rail line on Manhattan’s West Side that until 1980 carried meat and agricultural goods to and from various factories and warehouses. Add neighbors who, after two decades of neglect, wanted to demolish the entire, increasingly decrepit structure. Then add two civic-minded and GENIUS West Side citizens who began to advocate for the High Line’s preservation and repurposing as public open space. What do you get? An urban public park built on a 1.45 mile long elevated rail structure that is a MUST SEE during any visit to New York City.

There were two places that I knew I wanted to experience when our family planned our three-day stop in New York early this summer. One was David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar, and the other was the High Line. I’d heard lots of glowing reviews about this urban wonder and the real thing was delightfully better than I’d expected.

highline2The creative landscaping and intricate design of every aspect of the park, combined with its location right next to high-rise New York apartments and office buildings, make the High Line fascinating and spectacular. I could have spent hours walking up and down the park, relaxing on its lounge chairs and benches, and soaking up both the sun and the city’s sights. The fact that the operations for this public park are 90% funded by the non-profit group Friends of the High Line, make it even cooler. And the history of how the park came to be only adds to its charm.

highline1After breaking ground in 2006, the first phase of the park opened in 2009, followed by the second in 2011. Construction of the third phase is going on now, with the expected completion date in 2014.

The High Line is in a great part of New York City too, covering ground in the meatpacking district as well as Chelsea. These very hip neighborhoods offer great shopping and delicious dining options. We stopped in the Chelsea Market for lunch, an enclosed gourmet food court with more than 30 vendors. We all chose different meals, Vietnamese, Italian, and fresh fish, and they were all outstanding. The Chelsea Market is also the home of the Food Network and Oxygen Network.

highline 3

After a walk on the High Line and lunch in the Chelsea Market, I had a better understanding of why people move to the Big City. If someone could just help me figure out how to afford living, shopping and eating in these neighborhoods, I’d consider relocating.

For more details on the High Line, including its hours and public events, click here: