We were bundled up in every piece of clothing we owned, but the wind still bit bone deep. Our address to meet the group for the Urban Adventures High Line and Chelsea Market Tour was at the Whitney Museum, but the piled pallets of frozen beef belied the fact that we really were right in the middle of the meatpacking district. Dodging a backing refrigerator truck, we stepped into another frigid gust of wind. We asked ourselves once more time, just what was this High Line and was it worth braving the bitter cold to see it?
Our guide Evan met us with only a light jacket on and a cup of coffee in hand. This was a “balmy” 25 degree morning in his opinion. All the better to start our tour of the High Line and learn how an old, abandoned elevated train track was converted into one of New York’s most innovative parks!
As we climbed up to the start of the High Line Park, we imagined what the West Side Line of the New York Central Railroad in the early 1900s would have looked like. Massive refrigerator buildings that used water from the Hudson River to cool the meat and other goods before the trains whisked them off.
The original West Side Line was at street level – imagine fast trains hurtling through congested neighborhoods with no respect for anyone or anything that might be in their path. In fact, so many accidents occurred in this area that 10th Avenue became known as Death Avenue. Yikes!
Did you know the Brooklyn Dodgers actually got their name from their fans dodging those dangerous trolleys crisscrossing the city in the early 20th century? On the NYC Urban Adventures High Line and Chelsea Market Tour you’ll learn this and so much more about the history of this fascinating area!
Something had to be done about this death trap, so this section of train track was lifted to become the West Side Elevated Highway – which opened in 1934. Now the factories and refrigerator buildings could load and unload inside and traffic could flow easily on street level. This continued until 1980 when the trains made their final run.
Now the old railway line is called the High Line – a 1.45 mile aerial greenway running from near the Javits Center on 34th to the Lower West Side of Manhattan on Gansevoort Street at the Whitney Museum. This re-purposed railway is where visitors and locals alike can enjoy wandering through West Side neighborhoods with no traffic worries, except the occasional jogger. Art exhibitions and ample seating along the way make this park a gem hidden in plain sight.
After our chilly, but beautiful walk along the High Line, we found ourselves back at what used to be the old National Biscuit Company, also known as the Nabisco Factory – home of the original OREO cookie! Now this block-wide building is called Chelsea Market and is home to media companies like Google, YouTube and the Food Network as well as some of NYC’s yummiest food offerings.
As we thawed out and took in the authentic interior, there was opportunity to taste some of the cheeses, breads, or pastries available. It was here we said goodbye to Evan, but knew we had found someone who not only knew the city, but cared very much about sharing it with visitors.
We received this tour from NYC’s Urban Adventures in return for an honest review and would highly recommend it to any of our readers who find themselves with some extra time in New York. You’ll find a unique combination of history and outdoor enjoyment all from the perspective of someone who clearly loves the area. Clearly, the #localsknow!