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The High Line Highway

One of Manhattan's most popular tourist attractions, the linear, elevated urban park that existed as a freight rail line as late as 1980, is also a means of commuting to work - but only for walkers as cycling is prohibited along the High Line.
July 23, 2013, 8am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Allison Meier

Calling it the High Line's "best-kept secret", Matt Flegenheimer writes, "With no traffic lights, no cars or bikes (prohibited under park rules) and few tourists during the morning rush, the raised stretch has come to attract commuters — not because it is picturesque, but because it is faster."

Flegenheimer timed the High Line commute to walking the same distance at street level, from Gansevoort St. to West 30th, complete with stair-walking to get to/from the elevated park (though elevators do exist). The High Line won by five minutes.

Some Chelsea residents began commuting almost immediately after the park opened, said Robert Hammond, a co-founder of Friends of the High Line. But the number has accelerated since the introduction of Section Two [in December, 2010], he said, with the pathway extended nearer to Midtown residents who work at Google or other companies in Chelsea Market.

The walkway even attracts commuters from outside the area, serving a multi-modal function.

Jane Potenzo, 63, of Port Washington, N.Y., said she typically walked the High Line to reach Chelsea after taking the Long Island Rail Road to Penn Station, hoping to spot foliage coming into or out of bloom. “It’s the best part of my day,” she said.

Unlike a real highway though, the commuters must share the 'roadway' with joggers, parents pushing strollers, picture-takers, and the queues at the coffee-stations along the route.

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Published on Monday, July 22, 2013 in The New York Times - N.Y. / Region
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