Touring The High Line is VERY different from walking The High Line. Like most New Yorkers I have walked The High Line numerous times. I’ve squired numerous guests there and I’ve used it as back end entertainment after an event at the Javitz Center on multiple occasions. I once spent an afternoon there with a friend and our kids, so I can even say “I’ve lost my kids on The High Line.” (They’ve since been recovered).
So while I have “done” The High Line, what I “did” was in a completely uninformed and clueless manner; scurrying by various historic landmarks and utterly missing the point of this resurrected gift to NYC. Praise be to Jamie for remedying this via the first of her always fabulous fall outings that are thankfully back in action. I love these outings and so appreciate having the opportunity to break out of the day to day to have my brain, my horizons, and my knowledge of my adopted hometown expanded. Thank you Jaime!
The walking tour Jaime selected took about 90 minutes and we covered maybe half of The High Line’s 1.5 miles. Out of the gate the tour guide taught us that the stairs by The Whitney are called the Slow Stairs. They were specifically engineered to be climbed slowly so as to observe their construction as you transition up 30 feet onto the elevated converted train track that is The High Line. Even though our guide equipped us with this knowledge we still zipped right up these “slow” stairs. Now I feel the need to go back and tackle them in a more slo-mo fashion.
It seemed we couldn’t go more than 20 feet before our tour guide, Bill, had some additional bit of information to share. We discovered that by the 1900’s this area was home to 250 Slaughterhouses – hence the name Meat Packing District. The Meat-Pa district (the shorthand name) now houses a meager 4 meat suppliers.
We found out about the area’s promiscuous, illicit and derelict past. Things got a little spicy when Bill spoke of the various nightclubs and sex clubs with none too subtle monikers such as: The Anvil, the Manhole, and the Mineshaft. Our tour guide walked us by the Central Receiving Port of the White Star Line (you know the cruise that Jack, in the movie The Titanic, vows to write a sternly written letter to after the ill fated turn of events on his passage to New York). And we saw the dock where the Carpathian came to berth with it’s real life Titanic survivors in tow. This rusty arch is a remnant to that. Amazing!
We learned of the area’s resurgence from derelict to hyper gentrification, much of it fueled by the path that inspired our visit. We were reminded why a walk down this resurrected path is so appealing as it offers such a unique perspective on merging the old with the new, the organic with the inorganic, and the gritty with the glimmering and polished.
Bravo to the two gentlemen (and countless others) for having the vision to bring this meandering oasis to New York City. Whenever I visit, with a tour guide or without, I am always reminded of one our favorite kid’s books: The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. A picture book about a red headed boy name Liam who tends to a forgotten and neglected part of his city, transforming it into a resplendent celebration of nature and all that it can be and inspire.
The founders of The High Line, Joshua David and Robert Hammon, and the Friends of The High Line who support it and tend to it are Liam’s picture book story personified. How grateful we are for people in the world like this? Grab your group, a tour guide, and go, or go back, to The High Line. I had so much fun I am grabbing my family and going back today. And guess who the tour guide will be? Me!
The High Line is open from 7am to 11pm every day. There are multiple entry points. Today we will take the subway to the Javitz Center station and start our walk down The High Line from there. Our tour group met by The Whitney (which I must grab my group and go to soon) and entered The High Line at the corner of Gansevoort Street and Washington Street. From there we walked North. There is lots to see and do when in the area and an abundance of cool restaurants and fun shops. Can’t go wrong grabbing your group and going to The High Line. Have fun!
I would highly recommend our tour guide: Bill Schneberger. Bill is a New York City Private Tour Guide. His speciality is Church Tours and I had the pleasure of touring the Cathedral of St. John the Divine with Bill last winter (again thanks to Jaime). You can read about that here. Bill’s email is: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call him on the phone: 201-669-7413. Tell him Grab Your Group and GO sent you. He may not know what that means, but it is fun to say anyway. 🙂 That’s Bill below talking to us about The High Line.