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June 27, 2011

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NYC opens new High Line section

NEW Yorkers are using the long-awaited second section of the High Line, traipsing along its lush green lawn, enjoying prime lounging spots and a less-industrial feel than the original stretch of the famous park built on abandoned railroad tracks 9 meters above ground.

The new section ends at 30th Street, which adds 10 blocks and doubles the length to 1.6 kilometer. The first segment opened in June 2009 and runs from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street.

The park meanders through some of Manhattan's hippest neighborhoods and already is a superstar attraction with 2 million visitors a year. If you plan to be among them, here are some High Line secrets and unique features to look for, along with some history.

Meatpacking: At 13th Street, look west for a line of large metal brackets on top of an adjacent building. The brackets once anchored meat hooks along one of the High Line's widest sections, where trains pulled off on a spur to offload their cargos.

Once home to more than 250 slaughterhouses, the area still houses meatpacking, including a co-op of seven companies that just signed a 20-year lease extension with the city, the mayor's office said.

The sex hotel: OK, it is not really called that. It's The Standard at 13th Street, a 337-room, 18-floor hotel that is the only commercial building straddling the High Line. With floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the park, it became famous for guests engaging in hanky-panky in full view of the High Line baby stroller crowd soon after the park opened.

Word is the hotel now has cards in each room asking guests to be more discreet.

The Google bridge: When Google moved into space once used by Nabisco, its workers took to using an ornate steel bridge on 15th Street that connects the upper floors of two buildings.

Google has since bought a 280,000-square-meter building a block away.

Graffiti and billboards: Amid the fancy new buildings around the High Line are lots of funky old ones, some of which have some cool tags and faded company names. The anonymous Neck Face graffiti artist left a yellow snake on the bottom of the still-wild third section of the High Line. Look behind the elevator at 30th Street.

The second section's "viewing spur" pays unlikely homage to largely reviled billboards stuck all over the High Line during its decline. Here you can sit in front of a steel frame looking out on 10th Avenue at 26th Street and an auto shop. The frame is softly illuminated at night.

People: The High Line is not all about the industrial past. You can practically see into von Furstenberg's glass penthouse dome in the shape of a diamond above her 14th Street headquarters.

The new section of the park has a residential feel as well. Marianne Boesky put up driftwood sticks along her balcony on top of her 10,000-square-foot (929-square-meter) gallery at 24th Street, like a picket fence. She has some grapevines, too.

Views: From the High Line you can see the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. You might even catch a high flyer through the screen windows of the Trapeze School New York at 30th Street.

The undulating steel structure at 23rd Street is Los Angeles architect Neil Denari's HL23, a 14-story condo tower with a relatively tiny footprint that broadens as it rises, leaning 3 meters over the High Line.

In the winter months, when trees drop their leaves, both the East River and the Hudson are visible on the High Line at 23rd Street. David said the same is true at 14th Street.

Visitor info: The High Line is gloriously free, and with the opening of the new section, evening hours will run to 11pm during the warm summer tourist season. The High Line opens at 7am year-round. Early morning visits are suggested as the best way to discover its secrets without the crowds.


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