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Walter: Not so high on the High Line anymore
I hate the High Line.
OK, actually, I just hate what this popular park has done to my once deserted neighborhood. It has filled the far West Village with out-of-town tourists.
When I moved here 16 years ago, I loved that the area was quiet and undiscovered. Before the High Line opened in 2009, tourists rarely ventured below Hudson Street.
Now they are sprawling all over my obscure little street, with maps and cameras, winding their way west to this quirky park on a former elevated railway.
They love pointing at the gap in the block-long building I live in -- Westbeth -- where the trains once ran through. Their staring and picture-taking up at our windows make me feel like I'm living in a zoo.
Last year, 4.4 million people visited the High Line. It will only get worse when the Whitney Museum opens next door -- right between the High Line and the Hudson River -- in 2015. I can see the construction cranes from my eighth-floor window. My landmarked building is off the Hudson between West and Washington streets. The High Line entrance is four blocks north.
When the park first opened, I enjoyed drinking iced coffee in a lounge chair in the park in the late morning. Now, unless you go very early, the High Line is always packed.
My last visit was in the spring. I was heading to a gallery in Chelsea and thought it would be fun to walk the eight or nine blocks along the park.
The High Line was so crowded that the pedestrian traffic actually came to a standstill in places. I exited as soon as possible.
When I was there a few years ago, I overheard someone say, "Do you think anyone from this neighborhood actually comes here?"
"I live around here," I answered, feeling strangely out of place among so many tourists. We were the only ones speaking English.
Yes, the design is ingenious and the landscaping is beautiful. But the crowds keep me away from this unique spot. We locals, instead, watch the sunset from Hudson River Park.
The High Line's popularity has backfired: It's no longer an inner-city escape. It's as mobbed as Times Square. Kate Walter is a freelance writer living in the far West Village.