Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Riding the High Line (NYC pt 2)

Previously, on this blog, I mentioned a trip to New York City. In that entry I mentioned getting to New York. And while getting there is half the fun, I thought I'd fill in the rest of the story with a quick entry on being there.

New York is big. That isn't a surprise. As I said to my son, there are 8 New Hampshire's in New York City alone, population-wise.  Getting around is interesting. You have mass transit, taxi's, petty cabs, walking etc. One thing that surprised me is that there is very little assistance in finding where you are going. In other words, we arrived at Penn Station on W 33th street and 8th Ave, and had no clue where the Javitz Convention center was. There were no signs, no indicators, no walking trail nothing to help us. If not for my trusty google maps app I'd have been lost. Walking the short walk to the JC I did notice a few signs for Lincoln Tunnel and an express way or to, but someone should give the City some pointers on wayfinding.

We went to the JC and the traveled to Madison Square Park, which might be my favorite part of the City. You have the Flatiron building, you have the Shake Shack, you have Broadway as a pedestrian area (did I mention the Shake Shack?), and you have this beautiful multi-purpose park (and the original site of Madison Square Garden).

I won't bore you with each stop along the way, instead I will skip ahead to dinner. One thing you can't say enough about New York is the variety and options that surround you. We left our friend's apartment and walked 10 blocks and had dinner at a very fine Turkish restaurant. The food was great and the service was nice. What I loved though was that you had your choice of many ethnic options. We didn't need to feel pigeon holed into one or two dinner options, or the same thing at every stop. We ate and headed back to the apartment around 10:15. We stopped at a gelato place which was still open, and no worse for wear.

Saturday we had two great diner meals (I love variety, but if I have to choose one "style" it would be dinner food). After lunch I had the opportunity to visit the High Line. Now, I have a younger brother who hits NYC a lot. Me, I've been three times in 20 years. Him, 3 times since July. He has raved about the High Line for 2 years. The High Line, as shown in the adjacent map, is a rail to trail project. The West End Rail Road was a freight line that ran through some industrial and commercial districts in the lower side of Manhattan. Over years the line was abandoned and became derelict. In 1999 a group of neighborhood activist got together and formed a save the high line group with the idea of turning it into a park.

The park, elevated still, runs from 12th street to 30th street with a proposed leg following 30th and going to 34th. The tracks remain in some areas, but overall the trail has landscape where there had been track and there is seating and gathering areas along the way, and at intervals (I couldn't tell if they are calculated or not), there are stairways and elevators up from ground level. Of course there are no signs to get you to the park, and very little wayfinding up top. We had no clue how long the park was or anything like that, so we just strolled. We were surrounded by hordes of people enjoying the same stroll we were. No bikes, or roller blades, just strolling folks. There was the occasional ice cream vendor.

What is great is that you have this linear park, with these great views of the city around you, including into living rooms and offices of buildings that seem close enough to reach out to. The camera on my phone didn't do too much for taking pictures to capture the feel, but I encourage you to check out a google image search. The park is what Dover should hope the Community Trail becomes, a transportation corridor, a recreation area, and a gathering place.

What else did we do? Well we walked from 30th to 66th soaking in the sights. It really is amazing all there is to see. There are so many things going on in the City. We walked by the Occupy Wall Street march as it was moved out of the park (private property apparently) and down to Times Square. We started the walk around 4:30 and reached a subway at 66th around 6:30. It was interesting to see the City transform from daylight to dusk and then when we emerged from the subway 15 minutes later we had been engulfed by darkness.

The city is equally alive in the day light and the darkness. The main difference I felt was that in the daylight you are in an urban center, at night you are in the City. It is amazing the difference. You have this vibe that is created by the mass of people, which in turn drives a culture and commercial buzz and serves as that critical mass to drive an environment and atmosphere filled with energy. It is great stuff.

Now that I've been, I might have to go back, sooner than later. It helps having friends who live there, and can help navigate the City, which I am sure is easy to do once you figure out the code for finding your way around. For the simple tourist with no connection to the City, I think that might be very hard, and awkward. I don't find Boston hard to navigate, course that could be that it is design and operates like a big New England place, so if you are from New England it makes sense.

Who knows?

No comments:

Post a Comment