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June 24, 2011. Five miles that remind you Manhattan’s an island.

These long days of Summer shed great early morning and late day light on the outskirts. Wherever you are. Great times for long walks around the edges. Where you can actually see the middle. The whole place. Not just a block or two.

Unless you’re on the shoreline, you always feel like you’re smack in the middle of the city. Unless you’re on The High Line, you’re on a sidewalk.

Whether you’re a native or a visitor, this is a two- or three-hour Walk with totally new points of view. A refreshing new look at the city. Click to see the cool 3D Google Map I made for you. A few miles along the Hudson on the new West Side Greenway. And a mile on the amazing new elevated park called The High Line. An abandoned elevated railroad track remade into a mile-long elevated park. The coolest new place in New York.

I like to start at the southern tip of Manhattan, in Battery Park. It’s designed for the classic views of New York Harbor. There’s the Statue of Liberty. And Ellis Island. And the Staten Island Ferries. You look from the inside out. Can’t really see the forest of office towers through the Park’s trees.

You make your Way west and north to the Battery Park City Esplanade. Then right along the edge of the Hudson River. Far enough from the towers of BPC that you can see them. All of them. Your first sense of looking from the outside in.

Then straight north along the Greenway. Closer to water than concrete and glass. And your first view of the city. Enough of it that you really have a sense of the whole city. You’re all the way downtown but you can see almost all the way up to midtown. Like a Circle Line cruise without the boat and the funky smells. There’s the Empire State Building.

A little further north and it’s worth turning around to look south. Now you can see the towers. Walk out onto the old piers that have been transformed into parks with grass and benches. You’ll get a view of the new World Trade Center on its way up.

A little under four miles and it’s time to leave the Greenway and head inland. Just two blocks along Gansevoort Street to the center of what’s left of the Meatpacking District. To the stairway that takes you up to the southern end of The High Line.

It’s beautiful. It’s fascinating. It should win every urban design and park design award that can be won. It’s so peaceful. Amazing how different the view is from twenty or thirty feet up. You walk past the same buildings. But here you’re looking into second and third story windows. Not the sidewalk level storefronts designed for public viewing. These are private offices. And more private kitchen and bedroom windows. This is weird. Like floating by. Not like walking by.

The High Line meanders between, under and through buildings. Old warehouses that were serviced by the railroad. New glass boxes made for two-way voyeurism. But the elevated Park is so beautiful you’ll probably find yourself staring at the landscaping. All indigenous plants. The kind of grasses and small trees that managed to live on the abandoned railway. But much better organized now. Really beautiful.

So beautiful you’re probably not even thinking about the dozens of cool restaurants and food trucks that are just down there, at street level. But by the time you get to 30th Street, the northernmost point on The Line for now, you’ve covered five miles. Burned eight hundred, maybe close to a thousand calories. And your thoughts might turn to eating.

You’ve come to the right place. Dozens of great restaurants within just a little more walking distance. Notes at right. Locations on the Google Map. Walk and Eat.

Cost-Benefit Analysis
The Walk’s free. Five miles to move your body parts and clear your head. Dramatic viewing everywhere. The Eats, well, this is New York. Could be Better and Cheaper. Or just Better. Up to you.

Let’s Do The Math
Five miles in two to three hours. Your mileage won’t vary, but your calorie burn will be somewhere between 800 and 1,000 calories. Here’s why.

Every Thing Is Everything
A landmark 2001 study in the Netherlands found “in a greener environment people report fewer health complaints, more often rate themselves as being in good health, and have better mental health” and “when it comes to health, all types of green seem to be equally ‘effective’”, whether it’s proximity to city parks, agricultural areas, or forest. (“Nature and Health: The Relation between Health and Green Space in People’s Living Environment”, presented in Amsterdam, April 2001 and excerpted in The Trust for Public Land’s “The Benefits of Parks”).

TPL conserves land for human enjoyment and wellbeing, from inner city to wilderness. TPL works in cities and suburbs across America to ensure that everyone—in particular, every child—enjoys close-to-home access to a park, playground, or natural area. You can probably find an example of their great work near you.

Let’s Eat
Two great tapas bars just minutes from The Line: Txiquito (crispy creamy croquettes, $5; grilled squid ribbons with sweet onion and pine nuts, $16) and Tia Pol (potatoes with spicy aioli, $8; blistered green peppers with sea salt, $9).

The coolest wine bar in town, possibly the universe: Terroir Tribeca for their Summer of Riesling and Marco Canora’s definitive Veal-Ricotta Meatballs ($17). Lighter: the farro, vegetable and herb salad ($9).

The best sweet stuff in North America: Francois Payard Bakery. It all looks great and tastes even Better. Your tough choices to make. This is what you save your sugar quota for.

On The Line: 2012 update. Terroir on the Porch brings the smartest, coolest selection of wines, beers and small plates right onto the High Line at 15th Street. For a non-alcoholic refresher: the original RC Cola.

Locations on the Google Map.

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