The High Line is a marvel. The new park, on elevated tracks that once carried trains down the lower west side of Manhattan, opened a few weeks ago, and the city hasn’t stopped swooning. Where else can you promenade high in the sky, running into happy faces sniffing blossoms and peering over waving fields of grass, and still be only minutes away from hailing a taxi? Nobody is crabby up here, even in the middle of summer. The park’s design is sleek and tucks neatly into the ruins—rusty train tracks upgraded with flora between the ties; tunnels passing through silent warehouses, now hung with slivers of neon; and teak lounge chairs mounted on wheels to glide along the rails. There’s no rush, either: Bleachers sunk behind a wall of glass, right in the curve where the trestle crosses Tenth Avenue, provide picture window views of the urban landscape below and plenty of space to hang for hours. The walk ends near the Standard hotel, which straddles the High Line like a futuristic Soviet apartment block, newly returned to its landing pad from a mission in space.
If you want to walk the High Line, here’s a simple game plan: Start at the 20th Street entrance, in Chelsea, and head down to The Standard for drinks at the outdoor bar and dinner at the The Standard Grill, in the Meatpacking District. Or walk the other way, from Gansevoort Street up to 20th, for a meal at Cookshop, just across the street from the park’s stairs, or the aptly named Trestle on Tenth, four blocks north. A third option might be to descend at 18th Street for a bite at La Luncheonette, which—hard to believe now given the art galleries and well-heeled pedestrians—was once the only decent place to eat in the area. It’s a thriving part of town that continues to evolve. The High Line itself is an ongoing project, with about 15 blocks more to develop north of 20th Street. But most New Yorkers can’t fathom such a luxury. It’s not every day we get such European panache. The High Line already reminds me of the Promenade Plantée, the three-mile long park that opened in Paris in 1998. The Promenade Plantée transformed an elevated rail line that had been unused since 1969 and surely inspired New York’s newest public park.