High Line Park: NYC’s Urban Raised Gardens

An urban garden paradise sits three stories above Manhattan’s West Side, attracting nearly 4 million visitors a year – only half of whom are New Yorkers. New York’s High Line Park sits upon a former elevated rail line and offers a unique view of West Side neighborhoods. Starting in the West Village and extending as far north as Hell’s Kitchen, High Line Park turned a blight of NYC industrial past into 1.45 miles of rare urban relaxation.


How to Enjoy the High Line

Among the many things to do on and around the High Line, the biggest draw might simply be walking: park-goers can enjoy the sights and smells of seasonal and perennial blooms that would otherwise seem out of place in New York’s dense urban neighborhoods, including the woodland crocus in the Gansevoort Woodland & Grassland and Rhapsody in Blue wood sage in the Chelsea Grasslands.

The High Line Park offers many things to do without leaving its raised height. Art walks and classes, garden programs and lectures, and history tours are some of the key offerings. There is even areas to rent for parties. Families are eagerly welcomed, too, with bilingual story-telling and children’s performances and shows.

Along the path, whose southernmost entrance is on Gansevoort Street in the West Village, eight street-level stairways reveal things to do in the surrounding neighborhoods, including the giant Chelsea Piers recreational complex, the acclaimed music venue Highline Ballroom, and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater.


As visitors walk north from the West Village into the Meatpacking District, through Chelsea’s gallery district, and approach the West Side Rail Yards, large buildings loom overhead. Many of these buildings look as if they invite the park inside because, in the past, many of them did. The Chelsea Market Passage is one of the best things to do to experience an in-building train station. Once owned by Nabisco, the vast space features art, stained glass, and access to the Chelsea Market.

History of High Line

The late 1800’s brought freight trains deep into New York’s West Village and Meatpacking Districts carrying milk, meat, and produce. With more than 100 street crossing, the 1929 West Side Improvement Project included the High Line’s elevated freight line to alleviate street-level traffic and eliminate the numerous accidents between trains and automobiles by delivering goods directly into surrounding buildings.


Rail traffic began its decline with the growth of interstate trucking in the 50’s and by 1980, the High Line had seen its last train. A group of activists, now the Friends of the High Line, challenged its demolition and preserved an important part of history for the West Village, Meatpacking, and Chelsea neighborhoods.

High Line Extension

Eventually, High Line will extend even further north, to 34th Street, to offer closer view of the Hudson River and access to the 7 Subway line’s western-most station, slated for a 2015 completion. The extension will be another open section of parkland, a grasslands grove, and will complete one of the most popular urban parks in New York. The future is bright for the High Line and will become more and more an indispensable part of NYC civic identity.