Fascinating new park for Manhattan

by William ASTON on July 29, 2009

Perched on an old elevated railway on the West Side of Manhattan, the High Line has just opened and already seems like a permanent fixture.

Apart from strolling along, you can munch on the $15 High Line Picnic Baskets for sale at Friedman’s Lunch at the Chelsea Market (sandwich, coleslaw, pickle, chips, cookie, beverage). It has its own art scene, drawing students from Parsons sketching panoramas, and photographers armed with devices from cellphones to Leicas.

It inspires down-to-earth New Yorkers to behave as if they were strolling down Main Street in a small town rather than striding the walkway of a hyper-urban park — routinely smiling and nodding, even striking up conversations with strangers.

A little more than a month since its first stretch opened, the High Line is a hit, and not just with tourists but with New Yorkers who are openly relishing a place where they can reflect and relax enough to get a new perspective on Manhattan.

Since its southernmost section — from 20th Street near 10th Avenue to the corner of Gansevoort and Washington Streets — opened to the public on June 9, the park has attracted more than 300,000 visitors. The park will soon reach as far north as 34th Street.

Mealtimes tend to be most crowded, when people picnic, chat or just stare blankly at the traffic underfoot, often with children running serpentines through the seats. At night, the overlook turns into a Warholian conceptual installation, with its art-house vibe and screenlike windows.

Manhattan just got a new attraction and a whole lot friendlier.

For more, visit http://www.nytimes.com/

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