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Back on the High Line

June 12, 2012

We’ve just returned from a fantastic week in New York. A friend of ours is out there on a two-year stint with work – the lucky bugger. Happily for us he welcomed us to his apartment where we stayed for the duration of our trip (thank you Alan!). He’s living in the West Village on Manhattan – an historic, leafy, residential area that used to be all boho and arty. These days it’s a very gentrified, clean and desirable part of town, popular with families and celebrities. I can totally see the appeal. It’s an attractive neighbourhood with pretty tree-lined streets. Great little coffee shops, bars and local restaurants litter the blocks. It has a very relaxed and comfortable vibe to the place. For us it was great spending time experiencing a different side of New York, away from the canyons of Midtown and Downtown. I love New York all the more for it. One of the best things for me (aside from all the gastronomy on our doorstep) was that the apartment was just a mere ten blocks away from the start of the High Line in the Meatpacking District. Ten blocks that feel like a walk in the park when the stroll is through the green and pleasant streets of the West Village in the June sunshine. The first time we were up on the High Line, a year and a half ago at the end of autumn, the second section hadn’t opened yet so I was excited to go and check it out as well as to see the park during summer. We didn’t waste much time getting ourselves up there.

Having fun on the High Line {Taken by hubs – that’s me in the blue top with my camera}

On our first morning in the city we were up pretty early. The weather was balmy and by the time we headed out for a delicious breakfast at Joseph Leonard’s in the Village at around 8.30 the weather was already in the 20s.

Big breakfast at Joseph Leonard’s. The sprouts with sriracha chilli sauce was delish!

We wandered up West 4th (full of fab little restaurants – I can highly recommend Café Cluny and Mary’s Fish Camp) towards Meatpacking and got on the start of the Line on Gansvoort Street. We walked the entire length, which probably took us at least twice as long as most folk what with me stopping every few metres to look at something or take a photo. I have an eternally patient hubs.

As on our first visit I loved how well used the park is by visitors and locals alike. The High Line has been a huge success story attracting almost 150,000 visitors a week. Its popularity was evident by the number of people we saw enjoying all it has to offer. New Yorkers were catching rays, reading or having a break on the loungers whilst others were grabbing coffee and a gossip. There were plenty of tourists trekking by or resting their weary legs and taking in the views, school groups were on educational visits, arty types were doing photo shoots, families were out giving their kids a run around, others were just walking through using the line as a handy, pleasant route on their way to elsewhere. The place was full of life.

People on the High Line

From lazing in the sun to educational visits. All types and ages hang out on the line

The planting (a mixture of perennials, grasses, trees and shrubs, which was designed to mimic the landscape that had self-seeded on the derelict line before it was resurrected as a public park), was lush and green, quite a difference to the swathes of golden autumn colours on our first visit. My favourite section is still the Chelsea Grasslands area.

Plants on the High Line. Clockwise from top left: large orange spikes of Eremurus stenophyllus; floaty Echinacea pallida ‘Hula Dancer’ (love that name – it really suits them too!); bees were loving the Baptisia alba; and also loving the Dalea purpurea; crimson cushions of Knautia macedonica ‘Mars Midget’; dramatic flowers of a smoke bush (Cotinus) against a building; a rather bedraggled swallowtail butterfly flitting around the Monarda bradburiana; yellow heads of Achillea filipendulina ‘Parker’s Variety’ poking up through the bench seating.

As we were staying so close to the High Line it meant we were able to nip through on several further occasions, using it as a traffic-free, scenic route on our way to and from various places during the week. It was great to see it at different times of day and weather. Each time you notice new things. The light will have changed and different plants come in and out of focus or into flower. There is so much to look at and discover, as well as being great for people watching!

Passing through one evening. The High Line opens until 11pm during the summer.

Rainbow over the Empire State, taken from the High Line after a heavy rain shower

Astilbe chinensis ‘Visions in Pink’, which were not yet in full bloom just days before, grab all the attention on our last day in NY.

Eryngium yuccifolium in the foreground with views over the Hudson and towards Jersey beyond

The Woodland Flyover – part of the second section which opened last year. Construction for the third and final section (the Rail Yards) is hoped to start this year.

The High Line run various events and tours – you can hear talks from the gardeners and designers and find out about the art and sculpture or the wildlife on the Line. Sadly we weren’t able to fit any of these in this trip. They have a great website with loads of information on it, including comprehensive plant lists, which you can find here. If you are heading to NY I would highly recommend a visit!

For more High Line photos see my Flickr feed here.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Arabella Sock permalink
    June 14, 2012 5:02 pm

    I feel very envious of your visit to the High Line (and the cafes and restaurants). If there is one thing that would make me want to visit New York it would be this!

    • June 14, 2012 5:20 pm

      Hi Arabella. It was a rather good trip! I can’t wait to return, even though I’ve only just been. Part of me wishes I only lived a few blocks away. Although I reckon having a quiet little garden of my own trumps living on crowded, noisy Manhattan. It’s a fantastic place to visit though and the High Line is a great reason to go!

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