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The High Line Park in New York's Meatpacking District

If I asked you to imagine a park in New York City, you would probably picture the giant, sprawling Central Park. But New York City has another signature park, a recent addition to the city, that is an amazing destination that will reshape how you think of city parks.

Called The High Line, this park was created atop one of New York’s historic elevated freight rail tracks down in the city’s Meatpacking District.  Built in the 1930s to avoid the dangers of freight trains on the ground in a densely populated industrial district, the tracks were used until 1980. Since then, the elevated tracks stood idle, collecting trash and growing weeds.  It was ultimately set for demolition until local community and historic preservation groups worked with New York City Parks & Recreation to transform the eyesore into a public haven and tourist destination.

The one-and-a-half mile elevated rail structure towers 30 feet above the street. The will and money to preserve and transform it came from local citizens, private companies, non-profits, and the office of the Mayor.  Funds to preserve it come through a Federal program called rail-banking as well.  Rail-banking preserves transportation corridors, letting them be used as public trails.

The creation of a park on the old elevated track involved stripping it of everything down to the lead paint, and rebuilding it in a community-minded and environmentally-conscious design. The green space has the relaxed, informal feel of the old, self-seeded growth that evolved on the elevated over the 20-some years that the tracks stood idle. Three-fourths of the plant species used in the design are native to New York produced by local growers.

Sustainable design means that rainwater is channeled to water the green spaces (which is one reason dogs are not allowed in this park.  Their “water” would collect and in concentrated pools, killing the plants.). Some of the original rails remain alongside planking that has a smooth, boardwalk feel. There is art, a fountain of sorts, performances, video programs, and a sundeck, all for relaxation. And there are restaurants galore, making it a wonderful place to pass an outdoor afternoon.

The High Line was conceived and built as a green structure.  It turns an old industrial artifact into a environmental asset. The High Line’s “Living Roof” functions as the world’s longest “green” roof.   The planking design feeds water into the planting beds, saving on irrigation while reducing storm-water drain-off into the sewer system. The greenery mediates the “Heat Island” effect of city surfaces, increasing oxygen, shade, and habitat for birds.  The materials used were selected for sustainability, including all the wood. Sustainable practices inform all decisions about maintenance, from the use of chemicals and pesticides to composting and snow removal.
The High Line is located on Manhattan's West Side in an area called the Meatpacking District. The first section of the High Line opened  in 2009 from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street. The second section between West 20th and West 30th Streets, opened  in 2011.  The third and final section, the Rail Yards between West 30th and West 34th Streets, is still subject to negotiations with the owners of the at property.
Category:NYC Fun Facts

Holidays in New York Like in the Movies

New York holiday shopping is more than commerce. It is part of the American holiday story.   When people think of a New York holiday trip, many of their plans were inspired by scenes from beloved movies.  So with that in mind, let’s look at some quintessential New York holiday activities for folks traveling in the Big Apple.

Remember the skating scene in the movie Elf?

Rockefeller Center - The Rockerfeller Center skating rink is an extravagant display of Christmas exuberance.  The giant Christmas tree lights up the week after Thanksgiving as it has for the last 80 years.  People flock there to see the display and take in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular the famous, high-kicking Rockettes, a show that has sold out for more than 70 years straight. And if you have seen Rockerfeller Center in a film, you probably have seen people skating around the ice rink that provides outdoor winter fun from October to March.

Remember the big New York department stores in movies from Macy’s in  Miracle on 34th Street to Bloomingdale’s in Serendipity?

The idea of big department stores started in the 1800’s but it wasn’t until the 1920’s that Macy’s moved to its Herald Square location and began it’s Christmas holiday parade.  Now, the Macy’s Parade is considered the start of the Christmas season.  Department stores were a convenience essential to modern urban life in the 20th Century, where shopping had to be mostly done in person, and where holiday purchases were often done in a single, mad rush often in the last few days before the  big day.  What would you do if there is just one pair of gloves left?  Would you call it “serendipity?”

Care to dance on a Big keyboard surrounded by the most amazing toys in the world?

Fifth Avenue is home of some of the most famous names in luxury shopping.   People walk into FAO Schwartz and get wide-eyed like any kid in a toy store.  You can find just about any toy you want there, including, if you have the cash, luxury gifts like a$1500 Jeweled Classic Etch-A-Sketch.  For those with more sophisticated tastes in jeweled gifts, Tiffany & Company is another Fifth Avenue mecca for holiday gifts.

After all the shopping, how about that orgasmic sandwich you saw in When Harry Met Sally.

Holiday shopping is hard and a person wanting to load up on some hearty food. Fortunately, New York is home to more fabulous deli’s than any place in the world.  Katz’s Deli, featured in When Harry Met Sally, has been one of the best delis in town since the 1880s.  Delis are not fancy in decor, but they are fabulous on food.
Category:NYC Fun Facts

Top Ten Nightclubs in New York

Top Ten Nightclubs in New York

For those looking to have a night out on the city, the range of choices offers something for everyone. Just know that if you want into the most stylish clubs, you have to look the part at least, and preferably live it as well by being beautiful, famous, or rich.

18 Little W. 12 St. - Meat Packing District
Absolutely the best sound in town and luxurious decor set the stage for all that is fabulous at Cielo.  Boasting, the best DJs, a strong door, and impeccable service, the club gives those who make it past the door the VIP treatment all the way.  Great music and dancing, Cielo tops most Best Club lists in the city.

204 Varick St. - SoHo
S.O.B. stands for Sounds of Brazil, and this club opened to celebrate Afro-Latino music and dance and has become a leading venue for World Music. SOB’s is also ahead of the curve for emerging artists and trends.  A great night out to drink island concoctions and hear fantastic music till the wee hours.

Pacha New York
618 W. 46th St. - Hell’s Kitchen
A huge venue on four levels, each with its own decor, the Pacha chain has an international glam reputation that attracts clubbers around the world to the Hell’s Kitchen venue to hear some of the highest paid DJs in the world. A fantastic sound system and decent dance floor, laser lights and go-go girls make it a popular choice for partying the night away.

Santo’s Party House
96 Lafayette Street - TriBeCa
This two-level club has different music on both floors, offering a change something for all, or just a change of pace midway through the night. Little or no cover and a good vibe make it a fun club with a good mix of folks.  Early on the 18 and over crowd can party, but at some point it kicks up into a 21 and over club.

Sullivan Room
218 Sullivan St. - Greenwich Village
The opposite of glam, this unpretentious club is a great place for underground music. Low to no cover and hosting house and techno bashes that can’t be beat anywhere in the city.  Local DJ’s as well as international names, beats that hit to the bone, and you can dance till you drop.
289 10th Ave - Chelsea
If you wanna dance the night away, Marquee not only has the over-the-top style and DJs you require, but a huge dance space as well.  Hiphop Thursday are and the hottest night in the club.  If you want to be sure to get in, you can pony up $650 for a table.

Kiss & Fly
409 W 13th St - Meatpacking District
Named for the airport drop-off, Kiss & Fly’s decor combines old-world opulence with 90’s excess.  The door policy means the crowd is beautiful and the wildly pricey tabs mean that everyone parties like there is no tomorrow.

Club Shelter
150 Varick Street - South Village
Thumping house music and bare decor make this underground dance house one of the most popular underground dance houses in New York. Decent prices, casual dress, folks show up to enjoy the enormous dance floor and the great mix of people and artists.

Beatrice Inn
285 W. 12th Street
A townhouse hotel with club, Beatrice is tiny and about as exclusive as it gets in New York. Beauty, fame, or riches get you in, and once inside you can choose between a small upstairs dance floor or a lower lounge and bar.

Naked Lunch
17 Thompson St. - SoHo
A great location and 80s music on the weekends means there are always folks dancing at Naked Lunch.  A very welcoming place, not too pricy, and an enjoyable night out for all.
Category:NYC Fun Facts

A Fun History of New York’s Bridges and Tunnels - The Brooklyn Bridge

People marvel at New York City and consider it one of the great cities of the world for a variety of reasons.  Broadway.  Wall Street. Fashion. Publishing. Tourism. Whatever your business, New York is often a leader.  But as you travel around the city, you might not notice, though you will use, one of the most visible yet invisible signs of its greatness.  The network of bridges and tunnels that connect Manhattan Island to the rest of the state and the region were each and every one of them feats of engineering and determination when built, and today they continue to serve more than a million people each day.

Completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it opened.  It was also one of the first steel-wire suspension bridge, which means instead of a single chain (would have been impossibly heavy to pull through) or rope (nobody gonna trust that rope not to break, right?), the cable sheath is filled with multiple steel wires. This way, if one wire snaps, the whole bridge is not at risk. Which is why, although it is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the US, the Brooklyn Bridge is still sound and carries more than 120,000 cars and trucks, 3,000 bicycles, and 4,000 pedestrians every day.

We are so used to driving over bridges and through tunnels without a second thought that it is hard to remember how people felt when they were new. Three days after it opened, a rumor started that the bridge was going to collapse.  Maybe it was caused by the fact that suspension bridges sway a bit.  Whatever the reason, people stampeded to get off the bridge, causing injuries to many and killing at least 12. Doubts lingered and a year later, P.T. Barnum did his part to dismiss those doubts with a publicity stunt where the famous elephant, Jumbo, led a 21-pachyderm parade over the bridge.

One of the bridge anchorages is built on the site of the first Presidential Mansion. New York was the US capital for the first two years of the Union, and George Washington moved in with his family right after the inauguration.   All that remains of this notable moment in American history is a plaque attached to the anchorage.

Not even a year after the Brooklyn Bridge opened, another use was found for the span beyond its intended use. The height and the unpopulated water below made it "safe: and secluded place for suicide jumpers.  Barriers were eventually built to make that jump virtually impossible to attempt. However, a little over a hundred years after that first jump, bungee jumpers “performed” by going over the side illegally and being hauled back up with electric winches.

The Brooklyn Bridge cost a staggering (for the times) $15.5 million to build.   People could easily swallow a story that the city had gone bankrupt building it needed to sell shares in the bridge to remain solvent.  Con artists sold people “shares” in the bridge, promising they would receive a percentage of all the tolls collected.  No surprise when these “investors” showed up at City Hall to collect their due, they found out that their papers were worthless.
Category:NYC Fun Facts
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