I had the perfect hosts at the Airbnb I stayed at in Manhattan. My hosts, Max and Alia, were kind, considerate, and knowledgeable. They took me for breakfast at the best bagel place in New York. We then went on to walk the High Line and, finally, they’d booked a trip to the breathtaking Vessel in Hudson Yard.
Our first stop through the busy morning Manhattan subway was to the The Bagel Store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Their centrepiece is the rainbow bagel. There are many variations: a Spider-Man bagel, Galaxy bagel, Unicorn bagel, and a Bedazzled Glitter bagel.
I had a vegan bagel stuffed with spinach, artichoke, and a vegan cream/tofu cheese. These guys weren’t mucking about. If they were going to provide a vegan bagel, it was going to be as rich and as delicious as the other bagels! I could see why the place was so popular – and inspiring copycat rainbow bagels.
After the bagel breakfast, we got on the subway to the Meatpacking District. The Meatpacking District really once was a place of slaughterhouses and meat packing plants. There were once over 200 of them; now, there’s a handful.
At the District, we ascended stairs to get onto the High Line. Elevated walkways seem to be everywhere. They are a popular way of revitalising old railway tracks. There’s a fine one in Chicago. Like much of Manhattan, this one is on a bigger scale. The High Line traverses what once was a railway viaduct on the West side of Manhattan. It was inspired by an elevated walkway in Paris, which I remember walking along years ago.
We passed the Chelsea Market, which can be seen from the High Line. The Market is a stylish food hall and shopping mall now inhabiting the nineteenth century building where Nabisco created and produced the Oreo cookie. As if to signal the story of our times, Google now owns the building – mirroring the corporate transfer of power over the past twenty years from manufacturing giants to technology companies.
The High Line is full of greenery. The designers have allowed the once covered plants, which grew on the disused track, to breathe. These plants are complimented by views of the Hudson River, varied architecture, and art installations on the walkway and on buildings overlooking or visible from the walkway. It’s an outdoor art gallery. In fact, there have been proposals to build actual museums along the route, such is the popularity of the walkway.
Where tourists are, businesses want to be. An inevitable consequence of creating the High Line has been to gentrify Chelsea. The rise in prices of property has pushed out the very people in the surrounding neighbourhood who, ostensibly, were supposed to benefit from the High Line.
Next stop: Vessel.