And the area is only going to get glossier. The Whitney Museum of American Art is building a 185,000-square-foot museum next to the High Line. Designed by Italian architectural star Renzo Piano and slated for a 2012 opening, it's going to make the park even more central to the city's cultural life.
For David, the park is a "an embodiment of the spirit of New Yorkers, to fight when we need to fight." There's that, and a Jane Jacobs-ian dedication to the local - plus a global perspective on design and planning, which took on special importance to all New Yorkers after the loss of the World Trade Center.
All this helped make the High Line happen. "It's rare that you see a public movement gain such momentum so quickly," Balazs says. "But there's a strange amalgam of self-interested parties that got behind it."
Those "parties" definitely include Balazs. The Standard, designed by New York's Polshek Partnership, has a few things going for it: grand public spaces, affordable small rooms, brilliant retro interior design evoking the fizzy modernism of Morris Lapidus.
But most of all, it has a spot on the High Line and killer views in every direction, which no other hotel will be able to match. (The rest of the historic Meatpacking District, right by the Hudson River, is protected from high-rise development.) It's glitzy, brilliant architecture, and - this being New York - a brilliant real-estate deal.
So walk the High Line, then head back to the Standard, ride up to the rooftop bar, order a cocktail and watch the crowds down on the tracks.
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Pack your bags
GETTING THERE The High Line's southern entrance is at Gansevoort and Washington streets; take the A, C or E subway trains to 14th Street.
WHERE TO STAY The Standard New York 848 Washington St.; 212-645-4646; www.standardhotels.com/new-york-city. From $216.
MORE INFORMATION www.thehighline.org