It was a dark and dingy day and I had walked 70 blocks to get to the 34th street entrance of the High Line. Was I disappointed that it was a dingy day? Yes and no. No, because for the first time during the summer in NYC I hadn't been overheating in trousers, and yes, because the High Line is such a beautiful NYC spot that I wanted to show off as much as possible. But still, I gave it my best shot!
The High Line is a converted overhead railway track and at 34th street it's still quite industrial and bare but as you walk further downtown the park seems to emerge around you. I love how the railway tracks are woven seamlessly into the walkway; sometimes you'll see the line underfoot and other times you'll peer into the beautiful greenery and you'll see the old tracks bobbing in and out of the plants.
The innovative design blends the industrial and the natural, perfectly coming together to create an experience completely unique to NYC (at least I think it is... let me know if not). Not only can you find this harmony all along the High Line but you also find that the structure itself lies perfectly within its surroundings and as you walk along the High Line you come face to face with the architectural landscape of the city: old and new stand side by side as though this had always been the intention.
WARNING! If you want to see the High Line in an intimate and relaxing way, you are going to have to make some compromises. This quirky overhead park is a tourist hotspot and, unlike Times Square, the hustle and bustle doesn't suit it.
A summer time picnic would be lovely on the High Line, don't you think? Nope! Everyone has that idea - it'll be difficult to find a place to even stand and eat your lunch, you won't be able to take a picture without getting photo-bombed and the pace in which you'll move will frustrate even the most laid-back of tourists. If you don't want to be another set of feet amongst the droves of people (not unlike a herd of cattle) you want to find a time of the day (and year) that the walkways aren't jam-packed.
Now, I haven't yet figured out the timescale or the routine of the High Line, but I have found myself meandering down the tracks on a clear, very cold, beautiful day in November (a couple of years ago now) and I was able to go wherever I pleased, and conversely I have found myself shuffling along, two by two, barely able to see the park for the people on a hot, seemingly ideal, summer's day.
You might be tempted to throw caution to the wind and brave the crowds, but if possible, wait for the tourists to dissipate and experience the High Line in its stillness amidst the commotion of the city around it. There are plenty of places to hang out and if you find them at a wonderful moment of peace you can stay there for hours, just letting the world go about its business.