This walking tour starts in the neighborhood SOHO and ends at 34th street after a walk along Highline Park.The length is approx. 5 km.
The tour starts in the heart of the SOHO neighborhood, which means South of Houston Street. It is NOT pronounced as the city of Houston in Texas, but how sten Street. One of the tourist traps – LOL.
The easiest way to get to the starting point for trips is to take the subway (1- 2-5) to Canal Street.
When you get out of the station turn north onto Varrick Street and turn right at Watts Street.
Continue on Watts Street until Broome Street and you have arrived at the heart of SOHO.
SOHO is an exciting neighborhood that is in rapid development.
The neighborhood was previously known for the many art galleries and lofts, but in recent years it has turned into a super exclusive neighborhood with fancy trendy shops. One can easily spend fortunes here.
The neighborhood is famous for its Cast-iron buildings, where the facade is actually made of cast iron. The world’s largest concentration of approx. 250 buildings.
Originally, the cast iron facades were used as a quick decoration of existing buildings. It was far faster and cheaper to install prefabricated facades instead of decorating in sandstone etc.
A simple method of determining if a building is cast iron is to bring a magnet. If it stays on the facade then it’s a cast iron building – LOL.
Take some time to walk around in the neighborhood and continue north to West Broadway.
Cross Houston Street and continue at La Guardia Place.
The street ends at the southern border of Washington Square Park, located right in the heart of Greenwich Village.
The famous 5th avenue ends at the north side of Washington Square Park just off the impressive arch.
Buildings owned and operated by NYU (New York University – Washington Square Campus) also surround Washington Square Park, so there are always a myriad of young students around the neighborhood.
NYU is by far the largest property owner in Greenwich Village.
The park has recently been completely renovated and is a center of many cultural activities.
The main entrance to the park is located at the north end at the big arch, which is at the foot of the 5th avenue.
The arch was built in 1889 to celebrate George Washington’s deployment as president 100 years earlier.
At that time, the arch was built of wood.
It became so popular that the present stone arch was built in 1892. It is modeled after the famous triumphal arch in Paris.
Before Washington Square Park became a public park, here was previously a military parade plaza and even earlier in 1797 the place was a huge burial place.
The place was outside the city border at that time and was used to bury unknown people. Today, more than 20,000 people are resting below Washington Square Park.
On a hot summer day, the children play in the big fountain and cool down and here are always a myriad of artists who play music or show performance Art. It is really a lovely place.
I love coming here to practice New York’s favorite job: “People watching”.
When you stand in the park looking out of the arch, there is a red building on the right hand side of the corner.
This building was the residence of Dr. Robert Neville (Will Smith) in the movie “I Legend”.
In the early 1950s, the great city planner Robert Moses planned to build a highway in the middle of the park to facilitate traffic between 5th avenue and downtown.
Fortunately, this crazy project was not put in motion, as the local “Villagers” protested and won the battle.
Just south of the park you will find one of my favorite streets in New York City, namely McDougal Street.
It is an incredibly exciting street with a lot of quite famous restaurants and cafes.
One of the more famous is Cafe Wha, dating back to the 1960s, where Bob Dylan, Janis Joblin and Jimi Hendrix have played.
My personal favorite is Comedy Cellar, which is a place where all possible comedians perform. There is free admission but requires advance booking of tickets.
The only fee is that you have topay is to order minimum three drinks per person, but who wouldn’t do that anyway – LOL
The stage is located in the basement, hence probably the name. In the ground floor is Olive Tree Cafe, that serve excellent food.
You can easily dine here without going to the show.
I have dined here several times and highly recommend the place.
Café Reggio serve a perfect Cappuccino and claims to have brought this lovely drink to New York. It will probably be true as the cafe dates back to 1927.
The Minetta Tavern from 1937 is a pleasant restaurant with a good menu.
Continue on Minetta Lane and cross 6 avenue. The small park located here is Farther Demo Square.
Among the placeshere is Joes Pizza that makes a super delicious slice.
Continue on Bleecker Street, which is a central street in Greenwich Village.
On this street, there are a world of delicious restaurants and shops.
Places on this stretch that I highly recommend are Murrays Cheese, Kesté Pizza, Johns of Bleecker Street as well as the famous Bleecker Street Pizza on the corner of Bleecker Street and 7 avenue.
I have visited them all and they each serve amazing pizzas, besides Murrays, which is a very famous cheese shop – LOL
Continue up Bleecker Street, cross 8 avenue and continue on Hudson Street walking north.
Where Hudson Street adjoins 9th avenue, you will find Chelsea Market, which is primarily a number of culinary shops in an old Classic warehouse.
Walk south on 9th avenue until you reach Gansevoort Street.
You are now in the famous old Meatpacking District, which in the old days was the center of meat trade in the city.
Today, the Meatpacking District is experiencing a transformation into a fashionable neighborhood with expensive boutiques and gourmet restaurants.
The old buildings that I absolutely LOVE are preserved but modernized.
Cross Washington Street and you have arrived at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The museum has existed in New York since 1931, but moved into new buildings in 2015 here on Gansevoort Street.
The building is an attraction in itself, but I highly recommend visiting the museum, which has both permanent and temporary exhibitions.
From the top of the building, there is a magnificent view of the Meatpacking District.
On the corner of Gansevoort Street and Washington Street, you will find the entrance to New York’s newest park and a huge attraction, namely The Highline Park.
It is a very spectacular and unconventional park as it is located at second floor level along an old railway stretch that closed in 1980.
The railway line opened in 1934 to transport goods from the ships that docked along the Hudson terminals, to southern Manhattan.
Consequently, trucking became more common and the line closed in 1980.
In the following 30 years, the elevated railroad stood unused and declining more and more.
There began to grow wild trees and plants on the line. However, the steel structure remained intact.
In 1999, a newly formed group proposed to transform the abandoned the line into a public place like Promenade Plantée in Paris.
The construction of the park began in 2006 and was completed in stages.
The last stage opened in 2015 and the park is now complete.
The whole park is 2.3 km long and starts at Gansevoort Street next to the Whitney Museum and ends at 34th Street in Hudson Yards, which in these days (2017) experiences a virtual construction boom.
Hudson Yards is the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States and the largest development in New York City since Rockefeller Center. The site will include more than 18 million square feet of commercial and residential space, state-of-the-art office towers, more than 100 shops including New York’s first Neiman Marcus, and a collection of restaurants curated by Chef Thomas Keller. The urban development will include approximately 4,000 residences, The Shed, a new center for artistic invention, 14 acres of public open space, a 750-seat public school and an Equinox® branded luxury hotel with more than 200 rooms—all offering unparalleled amenities for residents, employees and guests. The development of Hudson Yards will create more than 23,000 construction jobs.
Hudson Yards is the fulfillment of a remarkable collaboration that includes a talented group of visionaries – planners, architects, engineers, designers, public servants, fashion icons, renowned chefs, business leaders, luminaries and more. They are working in partnership with New York’s development and transportation authorities, and with some of the world’s most iconic retail brands and leading companies – each of whom will call Hudson Yards home.
(Source: Hudson Yards, New York)
To support the new neighborhood by public transport, subway line 7 was extended from the Grand Central Terminal to a brand new subway station at 34th street just across from Jacob Jarvits conference center.
This new station opened in 2015. Line 7, commonly called the international express, now runs from 34 street Manhattan to Flushing Main Street in Queens.
Highline Park has become incredibly popular and is always on good days filled with people who either enjoy a walk or sunbathe at the seats designed for this purpose.
Volunteer”Friends of the Highline” take care of the park and nurtures the planting.
It is not a park in the traditional sense with large lawns and tall trees. It almost gives itself when the park is situated at second floor level and stretches between buildings.
Vegetation in the park is typically smaller trees, shrubs and many types of wild flowers and plants simulating the abandoned railway. Several places have retained the original train tracks.
As the park is located at second floor level, you have a unique view of the area.
At one point, by the Hudson River, you can see the portal where the luxury line Titanic should have docked in 1914 if it had not sunken.
If you subsequently walk close to the portal, you can just barely see the words White Star Line that was the shipping company that owned Titanic.
Now that the park is fully open, I will recommend walking the whole stretch from Gansevoort to 34 street, but there are several places along the way where to leave the park.
If you walk the entire park’s length, it ends as mentioned at 34 street in the middle of the new Hudson Yards neighborhood.
HAPPY WALKING and EXPLORING