Three iconic routes in NYC

Manhattan lights from the Brooklyn Bridge

I recently spent three days in New York City for work, where I did some research on the best routes around Manhattan and picked a different one each day. Of course, nothing ever goes exactly as planned, so each one had a few detours and unexpected changes. But none lacked for stunning scenery and a feeling of adventure.



This giant air craft carrier is now a museum


Hudson River Greenway
First up, the Hudson River Greenway, which spans the entire west side of the island of Manhattan for almost 13 miles, point to point. I had planned to take the subway from my hotel (near Central Park) down to Battery Park, then run back along the Greenway. This was also my one chance to see the High Line, which closes at 7pm. Given the timing of the conference I was attending (and my personal PST time zone that made it tough to get out of the hotel by 7am), my plan was to run from my hotel to the start of the High Line at W 34th St, down to its end at Gansevoort St, back to the Hudson River Greenway to Battery Park, up to the Charging Bull statue and a subway station on a direct line to my hotel.

Sunset on the waterfront

All went well until I got to W 34th St. I had researched the High Line and even downloaded the app... but was surprised to find that this entrance was temporarily closed! I crossed busy West St back to the Greenway, trying to find another park entrance while I ran. Unfortunately, I didn't get on until W 14th St, a short 3 blocks from the end. Still, with dramatic lighting and conveniently raised above car traffic, it was worth the trouble.

Found an entrance to the High Line at W 14th St

Other highlights of this route include a building I worked in 17 years ago, the Intrepid, a stop at the World Trade Center site, and many parks and art installations at the southwest tip of Manhattan. Although I seemed to be the only sweaty person on the train, no one gave me a second look, it was warm enough in the subway that I didn't get too cold, and I made it back to my hotel for a hot shower in good time.

Here's a good map of the Greenway.

Evidence of the railroad that the High Line used to be

Fun art installations all over the High Line

One World Trade Center, and Jersey City across the river

One World Trade Center

The 9/11 Memorial

Statue of Liberty all blurry and tiny on my phone

Tourists taking photos with the bull on both ends

Relive 'Hudson Greenway'


Central Park
The next day I was determined to do a morning run, since I had work plans after the conference. Being just four blocks from Central Park, my route was a no-brainer. I was dragging a bit and didn't leave the hotel quite as early as I had hoped, and when I got to the park I soon found that trying to follow a mapped route of the park was more trouble than it was worth. I followed the other runners and turned around based on how much time I had, which sadly meant that I stopped at the southern edge of the Reservoir and didn't get to do that iconic loop.

Sunrise from my hotel room

Still, running in Central Park is a must-do. It's a completely different view of the city and it's amazing to be surrounded by so many other runners, walkers, bikers, and health-conscious denizens. Plus there are the sounds and smells of the zoo waking up, and a few small hills. I also wonder if, with a bit more research, I might've found some dirt trails.

The skyline from a big, open green space in the middle of the city

Looking across the frozen lake

The city waking up with Central Park

Relive 'Shortened morning yog through Central Park'


Brooklyn Bridge
On my final day, I opted for another evening run so I wouldn't be bounded by time. My brother told me I had to run across the Brooklyn Bridge. Never one for a long out-and-back, I found a suggested loop using the Manhattan Bridge for the other direction, with a little out-and-back along Brooklyn Bridge Park to add some mileage with a view.

Welcome to the bustle of Chinatown

I took the subway to City Hall and set off through Chinatown. I decided to take the Manhattan Bridge first so I could save the best for last. A light drizzle made using my phone a bit difficult for wayfinding, but there are good signs that guide pedestrians to one side of the Manhattan Bridge and cyclists to the other. Being on this bridge felt very protected, but not pretty-- it's like a long  corridor of chain link fence on one side and steel beams on the other. But the views of the Brooklyn Bridge make up for it.

What running the Manhattan Bridge looks like

Once off the bridge, the rain had picked up and I really struggled to find my chosen route as my wet phone lost touch-sensitivity, and the darkness messed with my vision (I had brought the wrong contacts for one eye). And when I finally got to the pedestrian bridge down to the park, it was closed!

View of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Manhattan Bridge

Still, I made my way past Etsy's HQ and over to the park, where I wandered the paths and was able to do more of a loop than an out-and-back. And from the vantage point of the park, I could see the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge. With some construction and detours, it took me a few tries to find my way up to the pedestrian deck of the bridge, but once there I realized why it's so popular with pedestrians. Perched above the traffic on charming wooden decking, the swooping cables of the bridge frame the NYC skyline in a timeless view. It's absolutely worth running, even in the rain.

The Brooklyn Bridge (near) and the Manhattan Bridge (far) may look similar from afar, but they are very different to run

By the time I made it to the end of the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan, I was soaked but inspired, picking up my pace to the nearby City Hall subway station. I went back to my hotel, showered and changed, and went out to enjoy a late meal. I left early the next morning, thrilled with a perfect trip that combined work, running, and lots of delicious food.

View from Brooklyn Bridge Park

The Statue of Liberty, tiny but lit up bright

The wooden deck and lights of the Brooklyn Bridge make it feel a bit like a beach boardwalk

Cars stream by below the pedestrian deck

Rain bonus: no crowds

Lovely views

Just a dripping runner on the uptown train

Relive 'Manhattan to Brooklyn Bridges loop'

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