The New York High Line: When Vision Inspires A New View

Clare looks out from the High Line_edited-2

I’m a little bit in love with the High Line.

I fell in love with New York’s High Line, but it also broke my heart.

You see, one of the things I enjoy so much about travel is finding connections between places, and realising that you can be reminded of what you have at home by the unexpected sights you see in far flung cities.

In the case of the High Line, I was reminded of what my own hometown of Liverpool lost; the first elevated electric railway in the world.

I never knew the Liverpool Overhead Railway – it closed in 1956 and was demolished the following year, but the legacy lives on now in the new Museum of Liverpool, where a gallery is dedicated to its history and you can climb aboard an original carriage, elevated to the height of the old tracks.

Liverpool Overhead Railway

The Liverpool Overhead Railway. The poster on the left is the one I have on my wall at home. The photo to the right is from the Liverpool Museum.

The museum was where I learned about Liverpool’s own High Line and how my city was a trailblazer back in the day. I feel fortunate to call it home.

But although Liverpool is now a city reinvented and we’ve always had vision, the post war 1950’s were not the time for investment. People fought to keep their overhead railway open, but lack of real-world funding was then, what it still so often is now; the factor that limits a dream.

Of course, New York’s High Line and the Liverpool Overhead Railway existed in slightly different times, with the Liverpool line opening in 1893 and the New York railway commencing service in 1934, but I wonder if we hadn’t demolished ours so soon, whether one day it might have been saved and redeveloped.

Scenes from the High Line

Scenes from the High Line

Maybe we could have had our own park in the sky joining both New York and Paris with its Promenade Plantée

Walking New York’s High Line was a fascinating way to explore one of the world’s busiest cities. It’s amazing how differently you see things when your viewpoint is taken to a whole new level.

The High Line's real world cinema screen

The High Line’s real world cinema screen.

The park has been perfectly designed to showcase New York and is one of the best free things to see on your trip.

You can look out at the lively streets as though you’re watching a film, or you can cosy up with a good book; just the distant hum of traffic for company and the bright lights of the big city to illuminate your pages. It’s a pretty special place.

We didn’t walk the entire High Line, because as time was moving us towards the night, our noses were getting cold and our bellies were beginning to rumble. But what we saw, we definitely loved.

Walking the High Line

Walking the High Line

So I thank the Friends of the High Line for their vision; for seeing how a derelict past can become an innovative future. You made me smile and moved me almost to tears up there, looking both down and up at New York City.  I’m completely sure I’m not the only one.

Tracks on the High Line

Tracks on the Line

Have you visited the New York High Line? Would you like to?

10 Comments

  • Lucy says:

    I love the High Line – and the Promenade Plantee is well worth a visit, it’s a lot quieter and more hidden away but seems to be getting more well-known. Such a shame that the Liverpool elevated railway didn’t survive. The destruction of so many railways in the UK in the 1950s was such a crime.

    • Clare says:

      I really loved the High Line – husband did too in a big way! I like the sound of the Promenade Plantee for sure. Sounds like a hidden gem worth exploring for my next Paris adventure, which will hopefully be soon. I also totally agree about the railways in the 50’s – just so wrong.

  • MummyTravels says:

    This didn’t exist the last time I was in New York, but it’s one of the first things I’m going to check out next time I go back – I’d love to see it, everything about it just seems fantastic.

    • Clare says:

      It’s just amazing. I’d heard good things, but I was so impressed by the reality. I’d love to experience it during the day on another trip, but there was certainly something secret (and romantic) about it at night. Definitely stick it on your list for next time!

  • SO cool! I’ve been looking forward to this post. I’m glad you enjoyed your time there. I definitely need to revisit NYC soon and explore the High Line. Perhaps for my #take12trips starting in January?? 🙂

    Happy travels!

  • I absolutely loved the High Line when I was in New York!! I was there just after it opened, and only knew about it because some friends of a friend were landscape architects, and so were in the know. My favorite part (besides everything) is the “street theater” lookout spot. Such a cool concept! 🙂

    • Clare says:

      I loved the street theatre and stumbling upon it when I didn’t know it was there made it so much better. It would be a brilliant spot to just go on your own and have a good “think”. The whole park is so well thought out design wise. Brilliant.

  • The high line is one of my favourite things in New York City. Great views (and food at the Chelsea Street Market) and just a wonderful way to see and interact with the locals. We were there in summer and it’s also a beautiful place to curl up and read a book. Ahh….I miss NYC.

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