Last month, an old elevated train track on Manhattan's west side was re-opened to the public as a public park. The High Line was a 1.5-mile stretch of track constructed in the 1930s to carry freight trains. The last train ran on the platform in 1980 and the space has been the subject of battles ever since between park-minded preservationists and residents who wanted to tear down the steel monstrosity with no apparent function.
It is a great thing the preservationists won. The High Line is a magnificent and inspiring park, a one-of-a-kind public space with views of the Hudson River that shows a great respect for the industrial history of the surrounding uber-hip Meatpacking District. It manages to feel both modern and classic at once, with moveable wooden chez lounges that look like they could belong by the pool at a W Hotel sliding along the original tracks at places. Gardens are planted along the walkway and amidst the old tracks making it a perfect place to stroll, visit and view the west side of the city.
The first phase of the park runs from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street with the second phase slated to open next year extending all the way to 30th Street. The Promenade Plantee in Paris was the first elevated garden to be transformed into a public space but the bug is catching on and other projects are planned in St. Louis, Philadelphia, Jersey City and Chicago.
To get to the High Line, get off the subway at the 14th Street and 8th Avenue station and walk west towards the river. You will not be disappointed, even it rains like the day I visited.