Saturday, May 4, 2013

Mikus on the High Line

What would be a visit to NYC without some time spent in Manhattan? Although the last time I was up in Lady Liberty was probably a good twenty years ago and I have no interest to visit Times Square, I do feel a draw to experience the glamorous New York of the movies. One option was to visit the 9/11 Memorial, but I settled for views of the still-under-construction One World Trade Center from afar. It was only a month after the September 11th terrorist attack that I visited New York with college friends, and although I am glad we made the trip, I felt voyeuristic the whole time, especially on the ferry trip where the smoke still rising from the ruins was clearly visible. I do want to visit Ground Zero at some point, and a friend of mine who is working on the One World Trade Center building has me very excited about seeing the finished structure, but I want to give it a few more years. That being said, after our morning spent in DUMBO I was in a mood for a proper Manhattan experience, and so we first headed to Chelsea to lunch.

View from the High Line over 10th Avenue
The restaurant Anna and Andrejs chose was perfect! The Park on 10th Avenue brings the outdoors in. We started with a glass of wine on one side of the main dining room, seated in a 900 year old redwood root bench surrounded by National Geographic magazines and a fireplace, with the coolest owls standing guard against errant logs. When our booth opened up we headed into the main section of the dining room, which was almost indistinguishable from the garden that had wisteria overhead and Japanese maples hiding birds. The main room was centered around a 30-foot cluster of bamboo, and with the wall of glass doors to the garden open, the feeling of being outdoors was complete. The menu was decent being as the main attraction of The Park is the atmosphere, my everything bagel with lox, cream cheese, capers and onions was everything I had been dreaming of. I didn’t try any of the several seasonal smoothies that looked interesting (berry and bee pollen?), but my sister’s avocado-bacon club looked delicious, and I felt refreshed and ready to take on Manhattan after the long lunch! Could be that that was partly due to Mikus napping right through lunch…

From left: fireplace with owls, main dining room and redwood root benches with National Geographics
The High Line is a relatively new NYC attraction. An old elevated rail line on Manhattan’s West Side was transformed into a 1 mile long public park that totals almost 400 aerial acres. Owned by the City of New York and maintained and operated by Friends of the High Line, it was founded in 2009. The first section runs from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street, the second section runs between West 20th and West 30th Streets and opened in 2011, and a third section is still under debate.

High Line crosses over 10th Avenue, stadium seating with a great view included
The history of the rail line is truly unique, as rail transport initially used tracks that were ground level that had been built in1847. 10th Avenue became known as “Death Avenue” despite the addition of “West Side Cowboys,” men hired to ride horses and wave flags in front of the trains to prevent accidents. It was many years later in 1929 that the city and the state of New York, and the New York Central Railroad agreed on the West Side Improvement Project, which included the High Line and would have cost about $2 billion today. Designed to go through the center of the blocks instead of over streets, it connected directly to factories and warehouses, ideal for unloading. As the trucking industry grew, rail traffic dropped, and in the 1960s the southern half of the line was demolished. The last train to run on the High Line supposedly had a cargo of three carloads of frozen turkeys. During the 1980s there was talk of demolition, and a Chelsea residents’ group emerged fighting for rail service to be re-established, but throughout the 1990s the line grew worse for wear although the structure itself was sound. Slated for demolition under the administration of New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, it was finally saved in 1999 by the non-profit Friends of the High Line. In 2004 the New York City government committed $50 million to establish the proposed Park and finally in 2006 construction began.

The original tracks were installed along the length of the Park
The result is fantastic. Being the first warm weekend in NYC the park was full, almost crowded. We lingered in the stadium-style seating area that overlooks 10th Avenue, and stopped to admire many of the pieces of art along the way before descending back down to street level.

The Chelsea neighborhood is full of opportunities to explore and shop, not just the High Line, but also Chelsea Market and Iron Chef’s Morimoto. However for us it was onward to a different destination, Central Park


  1. Bonjour Liene. So happy to see shots of NYC, a favorite city of mine. When I visited last November, I was lucky to get to walk the High Line too, and for the first time. It was a sunny day, and quite enjoyable, not as crowded as in the spring. I know exactly where you took that photo of your boy overlooking 10th avenue. That is one of the most brilliant features of the walk. That glass window (with the bleachers in front of it,) allows New Yorkers and visitors alike to sit down, relax, and enjoy the urban landscape, as if they were watching a giant TV screen. Very creative I thought. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  2. I'm in need of a NYC fix! It looks like you guys had a great time visiting. If you like NYC and are interested in the history of it, you should read New York by Edward Rutherford, it even mentions the High Line :)


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