The High Line is probably a top thing on your New York City bucket list but you might have a lot of questions from when’s the best time to visit, which way do you walk across it, what’s the secret history of this park to what are the best Instagram photo locations? The High Line reinvigorated Manhattan’s Chelsea and Meatpacking neighborhoods. It is an elevated park built on the historic freight rail line. I love how the park preserves this overgrown greenery oasis. I remember coming here before there were crowds when the first section opened in 2009 and knowing it was special.
When is the best time to visit the High Line
If you LOVE crazy crowds come at noon on a summer weekend but if you want the best light and the most peaceful moments on the High Line visit it as early as possible on a weekday. I love how tranquil it is with only a few local runners when it first opens at 7am.
How to walk across the High Line
Unlike the Brooklyn Bridge there’s no wrong way to walk across this mile and a half greenway. The newest section with the Vessel just opened so you can start there at 33rd street or start at 14th street. Where you start depends on how much time and where you want to end up. If you’re hungry, end at Chelsea Market and try one of the amazing spots there like Los Tacos No. 1. Walking the full length technically takes 30 minutes but for me it can easily take me two hours at a leisurely pace stopping to take photos and videos.
Secrets and history of the High Line
1. It was originally called Death Avenue because people were constantly killed here on 10th Avenue by trains.
2. To keep the area safe the railroads would hire “West Side Cowboys” to help civilians cross the streets between trains.
3. In 1933 the first train ran on the High Line which was then called the “West Side Elevated Line”.
4. It ran through the National Biscuit Company (aka Nabisco), known for the Oreo, which is now the home of Chelsea Market.
5. Interstate trucking took over and halted the freight train business.
6. As legend has it, in 1980 the final train carried frozen turkeys for thanksgiving.
7. Over time the elevated railway tracks rusted and weeds and seeds dropped by trains and birds grew out of control. Many landlords in the Chelsea area have tried to demolish the park but public opposition always won.
8. One of Mayor Giuliani’s last acts in office was to sign the demolition order to demolish the “ugly eyesore”.
9. Friends of the High Line was started to save and renovate the space. They held a design competition where one design that could have been chosen was a mile-long public swimming pool!
10. The High Line has inspired a Chelsea Renaissance and new elevated parks opening all around the world. There’s even an “Underline” park in Miami Florida under the Miami MetroRail.
11. In addition to constantly changing art exhibits, there are many events especially in warmer months like dance parties, performances and even stargazing!
Top Instagram photo locations
There is no bad place to take a photo on the High Line but here are my top 11 favorite photo locations! These are in order walking from 13th street up towards the Vessel at Hudson Yards.
11. Take a photo with the constantly changing art displays like these stunning archways that were just installed.
10. I love the juxtaposition of the old railroad tracks with the overgrown greenery around them found throughout the High Line. 1/3rd of the original tracks are preserved and incorporated into the design.
9. I love this spot with these crisscrossing tracks!
8. I love how they designed these benches and lounge chairs, some of which move on the tracks.
7. One of the most popular photo locations is here with this bridge in the background!
6. Right after taking that shot go down the stairs to this slightly hidden walkway that is totally forgotten about for photos with less people even on a crowded day!
5. This walkway’s lines of lights can make a fun shot if it’s not too crowded before the stalls open.
4. One of my favorite shots is down these stairs with the traffic of the street behind you.
3. Past these rows of benches on an even clearer day you can see the Statue of Liberty perfectly framed between the High Line and this bridge!
2. Here is another awesome angle of the Empire State Building through the flowers.
1. I also love taking photos on these walkways above the stairs like this one. The other walkway that has great architecture behind it is at 520 West 28th Street in front of the unique building by Zaha Hadid.
In the end really any shot on this elevated park framed by greenery is amazing!