Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New York's High Line Is A Natural Oasis

Yelena Samofalova /
Walkers on the High Line in New York are treated to great views of the city.

By Kiernan Majerus-Collins
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Once upon a time, the High Line tracks carried trains up and down Manhattan, but those days are long gone.
Since the 1980s, the wood and iron remained undisturbed by pounding wheels and speeding train cars, and as the years passed, nature slowly began to reclaim the High Line.
Grasses and brush grew up in the tracks, which were largely deserted. But that changed in 2006, when plans to turn the abandoned High Line into a public park started to move from blueprints to reality.
Today, the High Line is a well-integrated mix of man and nature, containing remnants of the old tracks and new concrete paths for pedestrians, as well as sections of greenery. Some are careful maintained, others relatively untended.

Yelena Samofalova /
In the photo above, the setting sun provides dramatic lighting and the Hudson River a backdrop to the High Line. Below, trains in the railyard are part of the scenery when walking the High Line.
Yelena Samofalova /

The whole aesthetic experience is quite striking, and definitely a surprise to new visitors. Unlike other rails-to-trails parks in less densely populated areas, the High Line has no room for bicycles or much non-pedestrian traffic of any kind.

Yelena Samofalova /
The High Line is a popular place to walk, even on cold days.
Yelena Samofalova /
Each section of the High Line offers different views of the city.

One of its most significant drawbacks is its popularity.
At some points, the path narrows, and moving forward ceases to be a walk in the park, and instead takes on the typical New York characteristic of too many people in too little space.
But for most of the park, this isn’t the case. Instead, the unusual mix of scenery on the High Line is a constant source of interest, and the park’s elevated position gives visitors a unique view of the pulsing rhythms of city life below.
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