The meandering, block-paved streets of Manhattan's meatpacking district and the old, steel rail tracks of the elevated train that runs overhead provide a glimpse back through time to an era when New York lay at the crossroads of American commerce. Today, with its upscale restaurants and boutiques, the area has reinvented itself as one of the most exciting destinations in the city. How? By the development of that old elevated railway—the High Line—into one of the coolest, most vibrant places in New York. During this 3 hour High Line tour we'll join an architect or historian for an in-depth look at how the High Line was rescued from the dustbin of history and, by extension, trace the history of New York's industrial age from the 1840s to the 1940s to today.
Meatpacking District - Some Context
We'll begin our walk by looking at the rise of the meatpacking industry, industrial innovation, and urban planning in this part of Manhattan. Architectural remnants of commerce and the stunning architectural details are still evident in this neighborhood, including the predominance of brick facades, the aesthetic reign of certain architects, the use of metal canopies, and, of course, the wonderful Belgian block paving visible on most streets. Along the way we'll learn how the meatpacking industry declined (along with the Hudson waterfront) with the rise of containerized shipping, and some of the innovative preservation work that's going on here that, in turn, has made the area one of the hottest locales on the island.
High Line Tour
With the basic history under our belt, we'll turn our attention to the High Line
, a former elevated freight railroad built in 1933 by the New York Central Railroad. At the time of its construction, the High Line was an innovative and efficient way to move freight from warehouse to trains, and avoid the recurring theft that plagued streetcar services. Such businesses as Bell Laboratories and Nabisco, which ran plants and warehouses in the meatpacking district, benefited from this greatly.
Icon of Urban Renewal
After sitting abandoned and broken for several decades, the High Line was rescued by a robust nonprofit and converted into a stunning elevated park, or greenway, similar to the Promenade Plantée in Paris. Designed by architects Diller Scofidio Renfro along with the acclaimed landscape firm Field Operations, the High Line has rapidly become one of the most beloved open spaces in the city. We will also focus heavily on the conservation of the High Line, its redevelopment, and the thorny political and design issues that lined its path to redemption. We'll emerge with a strong appreciation for American industrial heritage and how old, rusty places like the High Line and Meatpacking District can find new life in the contemporary city.
Where do we meet? Where does it end?
Generally speaking, the walk begins in the heart of the Meatpacking District at 14th Street and 9th Avenue. Your confirmation email will have the exact meeting point details along with a map, and 24/7 phone number. The walk typically ends near the 30th Street exit of the High Line park.
What if it’s raining?
Tours operate rain or shine, but in the case of inclement weather, your docent will modify the tour so more time is spent indoors. It never hurts to have an umbrella on hand.
Is this tour good for kids?
Yes! We have some excellent family friendly docents who can appeal to the learning styles of children. Please book privately if you have children under 13. Feel free to provide us with information about your children such as favorite school subjects, and hobbies. This way we can match you with the best possible docent.
Is this a walking intensive tour? Is the tour mobility-friendly?
This walk covers about 1.5 miles overall. There are occasional opportunities to sit, use the bathroom, and get something to drink if needed. The High Line is wheelchair-accessible by elevator at various points; please contact us with any questions.