New York City Highline

New York City Highline, New York, New York (A)

The New York City Highline tour takes you through the artistic neighborhood of Chelsea with a stop at the Hotel Chelsea for a murder mystery! The tour continues on through the charming historical district of Chelsea and on to the Highline. From the Highline you will step off into the Meatpacking District, which has a bloody past. The tour ends at Chelsea Market, home to an interesting history of the changes in the food industry.
Image Courtesy of Monica Goslin.
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Sights Featured in This Article

Guide Name: New York City Highline
Guide Location: USA » New York
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2.0 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles
Author: Monica Goslin
Author Bio: Monica Goslin graduated from Franklin College in Lugano, Switzerland with a degree in Visual Communications and a minor in Literature. Ms.Goslin has traveled extensively in Europe, taking countless photographs in hopes of capturing a sense of place. Monica also has an on-line store, The Monica Store, selling her photographs as cards, posters, books, and a travel blog with stories, travel tips, and photos.
Author Website:
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Hotel Chelsea
  • Chelsea Historical District – Cushman Row
  • Highline
  • IAC Building by Frank Gehry
  • The Standard Hotel
  • Meatpacking District
  • Pastis
  • Chelsea Market
Hotel Chelsea

1) Hotel Chelsea

The Hotel Chelsea is famous for the guests it attracted from artists to poets to movie stars and rock stars. Bob Dylan wrote songs in a room at the hotel and the list goes on to include Jimi Hendrix, Dylan Thomas, Arthur Miller, Jasper Johns, Patti Smith and more recently Madonna, Uma Thurman, and more. The Hotel Chelsea is also noted as the place where Nancy Spungen, girlfriend of Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols, was murdered (probably you want to avoid that room upon making a reservation). Perhaps little known, some of the survivors of the Titanic stayed in the hotel, as the Titanic was supposed to dock at Pier 54 (further west of the hotel). Mystery and intrigue surround the hotel, which was originally built in 1883 as an apartment building in the theater district at the time, and it opened as a hotel in 1905. The grand staircase, only accessible by guests or through a guided tour, goes on for twelve floors! Tours are available monthly and fill up fast so call ahead to arrange one for an inside tour of the Hotel Chelsea (also referred to as the Chelsea Hotel). (Sources: and
Chelsea Historical District – Cushman Row

2) Chelsea Historical District – Cushman Row

Chelsea is an eclectic neighborhood on the west side of New York City that stands at the center of the art scene with hundreds of art galleries. The art galleries range from photographs to sculptures and for those interested in contemporary art it will be a treasure trove of talent. However, if you are more amused by contemporary art you are likely to get a good laugh, although beware that your humor might not match those around you. There are entire warehouses where you will find a maze of rooms and staircases to various art galleries (for a touch of old and new photography visit Aperture on West 27th street between 10th and 11th Avenues). The neighborhood has many brown stone townhouses that are charming and have beautiful old doors, interesting locks with intricate details, and lovely gardens. One of the most historical rows of townhouses is located on West 20th street between 9th and 10th Avenues. For architectural buffs, the townhouses starting at 406 through 418 are Greek revival architecture while the houses from 446 to 450 are of the Italianate style. On the North side of the street you will see the campus and church of the General Theological Seminary, which was founded in 1819 and is the oldest Episcopal seminary in the United States. (A historical tidbit you can impress friends with). This one block on West 20th street is a central portion of Chelsea’s historical district and it leads right to a new facet of the neighborhood, The Highline. (Source: Top 10 New York 2003).

3) Highline

There used to be a train track on the west side of New York City that ran above ground and was used in the 1930’s for freight trains for all of the warehouses on the West Side. And while that line no longer runs the tracks are still in place. After much anticipation and of course the occasional debate, the old train tracks are now an elevated park and walkway called the Highline, which opened in June 2009. From West 20th Street down to Gansevoort Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues) you can walk about two stories above street level. There are patches of greenery along the walkway with benches, and at one point the walkway widens and there is a small arena of seats facing windows that provide a view of the street traffic below, like a little local theatre. And due to an ingeniously subtle design, you can lounge on benches that sit on the old tracks, just push with a Hulk force to adjust your seat for a spectacular people watching show. This is just the beginning since currently only one section of the Highline is open; when the entire Highline is complete the park will run for a mile-and-a-half! You will get panoramas of the city which, include views of the Empire State Building. And, as a word from the wise, if you visit the Highline in the Fall or Winter, bundle up since the West side of the city is always windy and much colder. (Source:
IAC Building by Frank Gehry

4) IAC Building by Frank Gehry

The InterActive Corp (IAC) building in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood can been seen from the Highline, this building was designed by Frank Gehry, known mostly for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The IAC building is another spectacular work by Frank Gehry, completed in 2007, with a distinguished façade that gives an appearance of an iceberg on the edge of the city. The façade is entirely made of glass that was fabricated in Italy and tested for environmental and building durability. Plus the glass was actually bent (cold-warped is the technical term) on site during construction to fit the wall frame! The unique appearance of the frosted, glacier-like glass comes from ceramic dot-patterns baked onto the glass which reflect light. As with all Frank Gehry’s works, this building looks simple and easy, yet it is extremely complicated. The unusual shapes and curves of the IAC building required angled instead of vertical columns, creating a different skeleton for structure and contractors used laser guided surveying tools and equipment to position the columns just so. The building is commonly referred to as the Frank Gehry building, and it is the one iceberg that will not melt in the summer heat.

The Standard Hotel

5) The Standard Hotel

The Standard Hotel looms above The Highline, which passes right underneath the hotel. The Standard opened in 2008 and now stands as a recognizable building in the area; although, perhaps some see it as more of a new scar. The Standard’s façade is grey and the large windows with floor to ceiling curtains, which are often at all different positions, make the hotel a rather messy and gloomy block looming above the Highline. The hotel has 18 floors with 337 rooms ranging from 295 dollars a night to the empire suite, just shy of 2,000 a night! The hotel boasts floor to ceiling windows with views of the Hudson River and impressive panoramas of the city (these window are obviously more appreciative from one looking out of them rather then into them). There are two restaurants and a bar, all of which are surprisingly well designed and highly polished with an air of relaxation. So the Standard Hotel is possibly one of the best real-life examples of the saying “do not judge a book by its cover;” the hotel’s exterior is certainly no testament to what you find inside!

Meatpacking District

6) Meatpacking District

The Meatpacking District is a small triangular section just below Chelsea. The Meatpacking district has, like most neighborhoods in the city, undergone many changes. In the 1900’s there were over 200 slaughterhouses in the district, and while there are not nearly as many today you can still catch sight of carcasses if wandering around the area during the week (so a word of warning to the squeamish and vegetarians! This is perhaps not the best area to take children unless you are willing to answer some uncomfortable questions about hamburgers). In the 1980’s the area became more seedy and transformed into a dangerous maze of crime and drugs. And now, the Meatpacking District has gotten a facelift: slaughterhouses are now luxury boutiques and posh restaurants. Walk down Gansevoort Street or up Washington Street and pass luxury brand stores like Diane Von Furstenberg (874 Washington Street) and Stella McCartney (429 West 14th Street). At the corner of 9th Avenue and West 14th Street you will see a new Apple Store (401 West 14th Street), a charming row of restaurants across the way and in the center of the road you can take a seat and watch the cars and people walk by when twenty years ago you would not have been able to. Funny how times change, isn’t it?


7) Pastis

Pastis, a French bistro in New York City’s Meat Packing District. Featured in “Sex and the City” and other shows, and movies of course, this restaurant is a place to see and be seen. Pastis was started by Keith McNally in 1999. McNally came to New York in 1975 from London. Pastis is actually at the end of a long line of restaurants, cafes, and bakeries that McNally opened in the 1980’s and have become “must go to” places including Balthazar Restaurant in SoHo (80 Spring Street). For touch of glamour on a Saturday night stop by Pastis. You can of course just pass by and catch a glimpse of a ritzy world and it’s members. A visit to New York City and its neighborhoods always commands a star sighting or, if anything, a peek at established luxury and the standing tradition of prestigious businesses.

Chelsea Market

8) Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market is where this tour ends so you will be able to rest your feet, find a scrumptious morsel or quench your thirst. The location was once home to the National Biscuit Company in the 1890’s. The company built the building in the Romanesque-style and included six stories of bakeries that eventually made half of the biscuits in the United States! The company acquired many of the surrounding buildings and property, including the old American Can Company building, which they attached a pedestrian bridge to in order to join the two . (You can see this pedestrian bridge from the Highline). In the 1930’s new ovens changed the baking industry and production processes. The National Biscuit Company sold all of its 22 buildings in 1958 and in the 1990’s the current location of the Chelsea Market was bought and transformed by Irwin B. Cohen and the Vandeberg Architects. The top floors are now home to businesses while the ground floor holds the market. The Market runs from 9th Avenue to 10th Avenue with shops and restaurants lining the walkway. As you pass through the hall you can see evidence of the National Biscuit Company all around as tools are embedded in the walls and old machinery now stands alone as artwork or with a new purpose, perhaps in the form of a table or chair. This is a great spot to take kids. Don’t fail to walk through the market without stopping at buon Italia which is an Italian food store that is fun to just look at even if you don’t buy anything. Make sure to stop at Amy’s Bread for a good cup of coffee and a cupcake. Amy’s Bread also makes their bread on site, perhaps a nod to the past, and you can watch the process through glass windows along the walkway. Chelsea’s Market is charming and fun and a great way to end a walk in New York City.


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