The New York Walk - High Line Edition

October 11, 2009
Posted by Jay Livingston

Our semi-annual New York walk yesterday took a different route from any previous walk. We hit the High Line, the elevated train tracks that had long fallen into disuse and that the city converted into a pedestrian walkway. Here’s a before-and-after.

(Click on the picture for a larger view.

If you give people in the city a place to walk, they will. The High Line is fairly narrow, as you can see, and not all that long. But people walk up and walk back, even though there are not a lot of things to do – no shops or displays to look. But people stop and take photos of one another. Here’s part of our group.

(George, Paulo, Joe)
Our itinerary was briefer than in previous years. It included another recent New York innovation – the conversion of several blocks of midtown Broadway into a pedestrian area, with chairs. We had lunch at the Chelsea Brewing Company at Chelsea Piers, which was offering a menu of about 30 locally brewed beer, ale, and stout.

But the New York Walk is about walking. Especially on the High Line, I was reminded of the passeggiata, the non-utilitarian walk that Italians take after dinner, strolling about town talking and looking at the other people who are strolling and looking. Italians may be more aware than New Yorkers that they themselves are the attraction, what others have come out to review. But in either case, walking for no purpose but to look at other people is a pleasure afforded almost exclusively by cities. It is to New York’s credit that it recognizes this special urban possibility and has tried to enhance it.


May said...

This is actually true, it's not one of the myths that foreigners make up when they only know a place and a population superficially.

The Italian strolling takes place also on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. "Passeggiata" means "walk" and it is not specific of the context that you cite. A better expression would be "struscio" although it is used more in some region than in others.

Jay Livingston said...

Thanks May. It's nice to know I wasn't just making stuff up or calling on an inaccurate stereotype.