18 June 2011

NYC: Getting High

Since it opened to the public in 2009, the High Line has been one of my favourite things to do in New York. Once a disused, elevated railway line, it has now been refurbed and converted into a varied public space/garden. Previously, I hadn't spent much time in the Meatpacking District or Chelsea and the High Line provides the perfect excuse to walk off a brunch or cocktail from the Standard Grill or Pastis.

Initially, the High Line took you from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District up to 20th Street in Chelsea but a new section, stretching all the way up to 30th Street, opened the week before we were in the city and so it's even better than before. The next phase will take you to 34th Street and then round the corner, hopefully providing a good photo opp for the Empire State Building (in the meantime, they have provided an artist's impression of what the new section will look like; I did, of course, take a zoomed in photo of this so that I could pretend I had taken the photo myself).

As well as the water features, sunbeds and art in the lower section, there is now a modern-art-sculpture-cum-bird-feeder, several sections of auditorium-style seating giving overhead views of 10th Avenue and Chelsea, and a whole host of other things to discover. Plus, there is usually some combination of busking, vendors selling quirky products and interesting food, and other entertainment.

There were also plenty of joggers on our visits to the High Line, including a number of large groups of runners (and yogis, under one of the bridges). I assume someone organises jogging tours of the High Line; if not, they will soon. I can imagine it would be a great place to run although if I did so myself, I would have to do it early in the morning or when it's raining to avoid the crowds. My inner cat would love to sprint along and leap off some of the benches, steps and other obstacles but my inner cat does not like people getting in my way when I'm trying to maintain a constant pace. And yes, my inner cat also likes the arty bird feeder!

The High Line is also a great place for leaping—some of the features in the newly opened section make for good leaping locations. The only problem is that it's often very busy, especially on a sunny weekend or evening. This means that you either have people getting in the way of your carefully choreographed leaping shots or you feel a little embarrassed when everyone is staring at you—especially when you are wearing a skirt that isn't entirely appropriate for leaping given its tendency to billow up rather more than is modest.

My favourite part involves a series of wooden steps in front of a giant, silver-framed glass screen, which I assume is supposed to represent a giant cinema screen on which the movie that is New York is always playing. Naturally, I couldn't walk past this without wanting to take a photo of me leaping as part of this "3D New York movie" but technical difficulties (too many people getting in the way, the sun choosing the exact time we were there to appear in the gap between the buildings just behind us, my aching legs, etc) meant taking the perfect shot was pretty difficult. I liked the results a lot, though.

Sitting back and watching Manhattan go by...

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