Walking the High Line


Fuji X100 | 1/640 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800

This weekend we spent an entire morning walking along the beautifully designed High Line, an elevated park that runs through the west side of Manhattan. Arriving at the park’s Ganesvoort street entrance, I was very happy to see dramatic morning light sweeping across town.

The High Line was once an elevated rail system, supporting freight trains that ran cargo between warehouses and processing facilities in Manhattan’s meat packing district. It’s been several decades since the railway has been used for that purpose, but to preserve the structure as part of New York’s rich history, it was recently overhauled for reuse as a public park.

We arrived early enough to be among only people there in the morning, and it was so peaceful and serene:

Vendors were still setting up during sunrise. Blue Bottle Coffee? Yup, this was going to be a good day.

As we continued walking and shooting, people began trickling into the park, mostly runners as well as the occasional couple doing a photo shoot with their photographer. And speaking of photography, I couldn’t have asked for better morning light for photographs. There was brilliant light and shadow all over the place that morning.

I absolutely love the park’s design. The landscaping was inspired by the wild, self-seeded plant life that once grew on the High Line when it was no longer in use as a rail system. Parts of the original tracks have been reintegrated into the landscape, giving the park a sort of post-apocalyptic look, as if nature has claimed this part of the city as her own, though there is obviously a lot of control to the “chaos.”

Long, concrete “planks” form most of the High Line’s smooth walkways. Our walking progress was extremely slow as I was stopping just about every other second to take pictures. There’s just so much to photograph up there, and my camera was just loving the “wild nature meets man-made structure” theme that permeates the park and creates fascinating visual contrasts.

Speaking of the camera, these images are all from the Fuji X100. Compared to my DSLR, the X100 is just about weightless, and a joy to carry around and shoot with on the nearly 3 mile walk from one end of the park to the other and back.

Without my camera strap, I was fearing for my camera’s life a little here.

Another interesting, visually contrasting element of the park is the neighborhood it sits in. As you walk along, you see decades-old factories and housing mixed in with ultra-modern high rise buildings that run along the High Line’s path.

The park features a large public lawn, which was unfortunately off limits the day we visited. I love the viewing platforms that extend from the path, allowing me to basically step off the High Line to get a better view of the park, soak in sweeping views of the city’s skyline and buzzing streets, or people watch while kicking back on one of the many benches placed along the walkway.

Ok, so I think that’s enough yapping from me. I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story:

The High Line is a must see if you ever find yourself in New York City. I’m pretty sure it’ll be on my to do list every single time I visit!

Coming up, more posts from photo walks in NY over the weekend, meeting three amazing Shibas (well, technically four), and the best coffee I’ve ever had on the east coast, or possibly anywhere for that matter. Stay tuned!

________

All photos:
Fuji Finepix X100: Provia Film Sim (JPEG output)
Black and Whites processed in Silver Efex Pro 2

149 thoughts on “Walking the High Line

  1. Hey Jonathan,

    You have some very nice photos. I have been following your blog for quite some time now. Your opinion on the X100 was one of many reasons for me to buy a X100 for myself.
    I like your pictures of this morning walk but I am missing one of your nicest motives. So where was Suki this morning?

    Greetings from Germany

    Daniel

    1. Suki was at home in San Francisco. It would have been too difficult to bring her all the way to New York. Plus, dogs aren’t aloud on the High Line unfortunately. Would have loved to have her there though!

  2. love this! very cool to see the high line through a non new yorker’s eyes. i will have to schlep out there in the morning some day. i’ve always seen it around evening so it’d be a nice change.

  3. oh, i’ve seen this place on a few blogs, so it’s almost like i know the area (except the fact i’ve never been there). the more pics i see with the x100, the more tempted i am!

  4. Jonathan, great blog on the High Line. I was in New York in May and I posted a blog on the High Line in June. It is always cool to see how other people view the same places and how they photograph them!

  5. Hey Jonathan- I agree, morning light is the best! I have been enjoying your photos, you have done a lot lately!! Well, I have finally made it out to SF, and reunited with my wife and Champi. You have to let me know if you are still interested in a doggie meet up. Champi made a Shiba friend at the dog park yesterday, that little guy could jump so high…! It was pretty funny.

    Talk to you soon,
    jayaxe04@gmail.com

  6. I love these photos. I featured High Line on my blog before. This place is amazing. Did you get a chance to see the skating ring connected to the park? It’s so much fun. Glad you loved my fav city park 🙂

  7. Awesome set of photos! You’re in NY again haha 😀 I didn’t even know that there was a park like this until I first saw it on Alice’s blog a while back. You gave us all some new perspectives though. Great work!

    1. I still think the EPL2 with 20mm f/1.7 is a fantastic combo. Easy to use, fast focusing, very sharp. I prefer the X100’s image quality, however, especially when it comes to dynamic range and high ISO performance. Also, the manual controls and OVF/EVF combo on the X100 make it more fun to use on a daily basis for me.

  8. So thrilled you visited and took so many pictures of High Line park. I saw an article a couple months back but they didn’t have very many pictures. So much fun to come along for the walk with you and get to fully appreciate how cool this park really is…

  9. what a beautifully designed park – your photos have definitely convinced me to visit it when I’m in NYC next time. I’m so impressed with the x100! you gotta stop making me lust after it!

  10. I really loved seeing your visual tour of the High Line. I’ve been reading about it in the New York Times since it was just a concept, and have always wanted to visit. It’s now on my must-do list for my next trip to New York. Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. Very cool – who knew – a park in the sky!
    I love how you describe is as a “nature meets man-made structure theme that permeates the park and creates fascinating visual contrasts.”

  12. Beautiful images. The High Line really is an amazing project in so many ways. While I often debate whether we should have disrupted nature’s own reclaiming of the structure, I still believe it is an amazing public space and one of the best in New York. It’s a model for many other cities. The pictures are really beautiful and capture the beauty of the park and the city!

  13. On my trip to NYC this summer, this was a must-see! I love the idea, I love the execution of it, and I love your photos! (and I love the fact that your photos help me say, “yeah! I’ve been there,” but that’s getting excessive on the loves.) – Abi

  14. WOW…these are great industrial photos…PLEASE tell me you work for a top magazine (I will look at your profile forthwith). If you are not, get out there and show these to someone at one of the top magazines…it is hard to make an average picture look exciting, you definitely have the talent!

  15. Very cool. Just read an article the other day about the high line. Preservation and recycling wrapped up to bring a bit of open space and nature to the city. I have a much better idea what it really looks like. last time I was in NY I think it was open…for trains. Dohn

  16. I just visited the High Rise for the first time a few weeks ago (I live further up North in New England), and I think my favorite part other than the beauty was the talking water fountains that encourage kissing. XDDDD

  17. Absolutely stunning. I was raised in the west village through the late 80’s early 90’s. At that time the park was just an abandoned train tracks. Since moving to South Florida I haven’t to see such detailed images until now. Great blog, thanks for sharing!!!

  18. Amazing!
    I love the one of the bench, the light’s really nice. Also I like all the shots of the buildings. They look so huge, nice shots.
    I do a little bit of photography too.

    Keep it up….
    Thanks for the amazing photography!

  19. These pictures are beautiful. I was there just last sunday taking pictures of model friend of mine. the highline and the whole area around there is definitely one of my favorite places in NYC.

    Kudos

  20. Every time I visit a new place. I later hear of something within a
    short walk from where I was staying that would have put everything
    else on my iterinary to shame! It’s so dissipointing! But I’m glad to
    know about this none the less. There should be tours offered that
    do nothing but introduce you to wonders that lie off the beaten path.
    Turning this train over-pass into a hanging garden is one of the
    best recycling stories I ever heard! I love it when artifical structures
    run wild. If you have the time, check out RUST – a wroung turn into
    an ababdoned way – station where secrets lie sleeping behind
    closed doors . . .

  21. The pictures are gorgeous! I especially like the ones with the railroad and how the plants are going around and in the tracks. It does give you that kind of post-apocalyptic feel to it. Thanks for sharing!

  22. Hi Jonathan,
    Thanks for the post. Lovely photos! Funny synchronicity that on that very same day I posted an article about the High Line! I’m glad you were able to add photos, as I’m a New Yorker living in India, so was talking about the HL from memory!

    Cheers!

  23. This looks like a beautiful place… so relaxing, love your way to capture it through your camera. I really like some pictures, the one of the grass looks so serene and calm. Like. I’ll sure include this location in a must-visit list

  24. I remember reading an interview with Edward Norton a few years ago and he was talking about the importance of retaining the High Line and was a huge advocate of investment in its regeneration. It’s a great feature of my favourite city. And this is a great pictorial.

  25. Enjoyed reading your post–especially this one: “wild nature meets man-made structure”. Thanks for sharing photos for a visual walk through the park. Excellent!

  26. Wow your work is absolutely stunning and making me want to visit the High Line :), must have been a lovely experience to have so many interesting things to make photos of :).

  27. I must have been living under a rock because I have never heard of this amazing place!
    You captured it beautifully and really ignited a spark in me to travel to NY, I mean THIS PLACE, as soon as I get the opportunity.

    Thanks for sharing, I love your photography, and congratulations on the FP! It sure feels good!

  28. Well done! Your photography is fantastic, and I welcomed the “yapping” as you put it…very informative. I read an article in the Sunday NYT Magazine (a few months ago?) about the High Line which featured a few photos. It is always nice to come across something familiar and to be able see it from another’s perspective. Thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour, since I’m not sure when I will get a chance to visit NYC again.

  29. WOW! Gorgeous photos! I’ve had long-standing plans to go to the High Line, but I’ve been told it’s “boring”
    Clearly someone doesn’t appreciate beauty.
    I think I’ll be visiting it soon. Thanks for this!

  30. I JUST walked the High Line myself with a native New Yorker as my guide. I went in the mid afternoon and unfortunately it was a lot more crowded. Just getting my feet wet as an amateur photographer makes me a little hesitant to take some shots so I definitely do not have the amount or caliber that you do BUT I did get a sweet little photo of one little girl in a pink tutu walking in the water barefoot as all the adults walked by. Priceless. Very excited to see this post. thank you for sharing 🙂

  31. What a great job you’ve done of sharing the High Line with those who have read about it but haven’t had a chance to visit New York. (And giving those — like me — who haven’t yet seen the new section that opened, a push to get back to the city soon.)

  32. You have contextualized the park incredibly well. Even though I’ve never been to New York, I feel as if I have been to this park. Many wonderful images in which to lose oneself. A great post and congrats on the richly deserved Freshly Pressed.

  33. I have seen a larger number of posts on wordpress about the Highline but have to say I think your photos are amongst the best, good pictures and in some you have captured a different side to other posts.

  34. This is an incredible example to transform lost spaces in green communities…I’m sure that many cities could be see the posibilities and think that another kind of urbanism is affordable, great pics I love nYC

  35. I saw this a little whileago on TV. What a brilliant idea and a stunning piece of recycling. Imagine what the highline took to build. And in a city so dense with population, a new green area that is so well used is not only welcome but essential.

  36. I remember reading about this project in National Geographic. Its wonderful to see photos from the perspective of someone using it. Beautiful photographs as well.

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