“My art is an attempt to reach beyond the surface appearance. I want to see growth in wood, time in stone, nature in a city, and I do not mean its parks but a deeper understanding that a city is nature too-the ground upon which it is built, the stone with which it is made.” ~ Andy Goldsworthy
Tourism in the City
I might have a slight aversion to touristy attractions. It is true they say that you can live in New York for years, and never once go atop the Empire State Building or see the Statue of Liberty. While I have done both, it has been because I have had friends visiting who were eager to do those touristy things.
And with the exception of Time Square (which I actually had a friend exclaim to me… “This is it?”) and the horse drawn carriages (just no. No. NO!) I am usually down for anything. Yes even the roll your eyes are we REALLY doing this attractions.
I had been to the High Line shortly after it had opened, and before it became a tourist destination. I admit I was disappointed when I first saw it. While it was cool being above everything, there was still a lot of construction surrounding it. It also was SHORT. I am a New Yorker, I like to walk people! And while I understood it wasn’t finished even my friend and I just stared at each other in shock wondering what the hype was all about.
When another friend put it on her must do list, years later, in the dead of Winter no less, I admit I rolled my eyes and couldn’t understand why. There are so many BETTER things to do in the city! The Botanical Gardens, the Met, The Brooklyn Bridge and you can STILL get your walking miles in and not freeze your derrière off.
Being the consummate tour guide, I kept my comments to myself and we went. While it has redeemed itself some what, I still say, if you really want to walk some place and channel nature go to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Yes even in Winter.
The Highline use to be part of an old rail line, and as you walk along it, you will still see some of the remnants of the tracks. It was in operation for about fifty years running from Spring Street to 34th street. Once shut down it played unused for twenty years, until residents formed “Friends of the Highline,” a group dedicated to not just the restoration and perseveration, but also to create an outdoor space that New Yorkers could enjoy.
With gardens, grassy areas, and tree lining the path, it is an oasis of nature just above speeding cars and pedestrians hurriedly going about their lives. With buildings surrounding the walkway some of which you are actually eye level to and can look in, it is a great place to not only find some peace, but also people watch. There is art scattered throughout with exhibits rotating seasonally. This picture obsessed New Yorker can not deny that it is the perfect place to pose for a photograph or a hundred.
The Highline is the quintessential tourist destination in the city and cause of debate amongst many New Yorkers. Some love the Highline others think it is overrated. While it has grown on me, it is still a place I can take or leave, preferring to take strolls along the East River or Riverside Park. One perk of the Highline is that is has multiple entrances so if you are of the mind, you came, you saw and you conquered, you can always hop off and do something else. If you are itching to check the Highline out, (and I urge you to make your own opinions about it) I recommend visiting in the Spring or Summer, when it is warmer and the gardens are in bloom.
Have you visited the Highline? Is there a walkway like this where you live?