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From Shulman's Eat the City: “The High Line, an elevated freight line, had to be constructed from Thirty-Fourth Street down to Spring Street, cutting right inside of warehouses to make second-story meat deliveries.” In this image, the High Line runs through the former Cudahy Meatpacking plant. Photographer unknown.

Journalist Robin Shulman, author of  Eat the City, will lead a unique walking tour of the High Line’s fascinating food history on Wednesday, June 5. To whet your appetite for Robin’s tour, we’ve included an excerpt from her book below. Learn more about ‘Eat the City’ High Line Meat Tour and purchase tickets today.

In the 1870s, the Chicago clearinghouses shipping beef and pork to East Coast cities realized it would be cheaper to send dead meat than live steers. They built massive stockyards and slaughterhouses where they could “disassemble” cows and pack the carcasses to travel efficiently. In a leap of technology, they harvested ice from the Great Lakes and stored it in stations along the train routes to cool the meat they sent in rail cars all the way to eastern cities. Prices went down, and Harper’s Weekly heralded a new “era of cheap beef.”

Jennette Mullaney
West 16th Street, 1950s. Photo by Ed DoyleTaken in the 1950s, this photograph shows a passenger car at West 16th Street. Around the same time this image was captured, construction was underway on the interstate highway system, which would lead to further decline in freight traffic to and from New York City. Photo by Ed Doyle

This special blog post, the second in a two-part series (see part one), was written by Sonya Kharas of the NYU Food Studies Program and Nutshell Projects.

Feeding the Future

A slow, inefficient, and costly transportation system was incongruous with New York City in the 1920s. After all, this was the city that completed two of the world’s tallest skyscrapers — the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings — within the same year, and the city about which F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “Everything is possible. I am in the land of ambition, and success.”

And so, in 1929, the City of New York and the New York Central Railroad Company embarked on an ambitious project that would elevate the grade-level tracks along Manhattan’s West Side and, more importantly, modernize the handling of the city’s daily supplies of foodstuffs.

Jennette Mullaney
As the city's population grew, congestion caused by a mix of pedestrians, motorized traffic, and street-level freight trains slowed food delivery into New York City. Photo courtesy of the Kalmbach Publishing Company

This special blog post, the first in a two-part series (see part two), was written by Sonya Kharas of the NYU Food Studies Program and Nutshell Projects.

Last fall, Friends of the High Line announced plans to open a year-round, full-service restaurant directly below the elevated railway’s southern terminus, at Gansevoort and Washington Streets. The restaurant, to be operated by the team behind Torrisi Italian Specialties and Parm, will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and, as it turns out, provide a perfect starting point to consider the historic role that the High Line has played in feeding New York City.

A Historic Marketplace

Decades ago, the site of the High Line’s forthcoming restaurant was home to one of the city’s most important municipal markets: the open-air Farmers’ Market, later Gansevoort Market, for regional produce. Established in 1879, the market was devoted almost entirely to the sale of fruits and vegetables, the majority of which arrived by horse-drawn wagon from nearby farms in Long Island, Staten Island, New Jersey, and Westchester.

Jennette Mullaney
Photos by Nicole Franzen, Jason Scott courtesy of The Taco Truck, and Patricia Wancko courtesy of Sigmund’s Pretzels

If you, like us, salivate over the glossy deliciousness found in the food section of New York magazine, then you saw this week’s exciting announcement about spring eats at the High Line.

Lamb ribs, brisket sandwiches, and a delectable selection of pies are coming to the park this season—and that’s just at the SmokeLine, the latest outpost of BrisketTown’s Daniel Delaney. Beginning Friday, April 19, there will be nine food vendors on the High Line, offering tasty treats for your next al fresco breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Follow us after the jump for a quick, hunger-panic-inducing introduction to this season of High Line Food.

Erika Harvey
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This season of High Line Food is in full-swing! Follow us after the jump to learn how you can enter to win a complimentary lunch from Terroir at The Porch.

Kate Lindquist
High Line GingerbreadAn edible High Line made of gingerbread, frosting, and festive winter plants is now on view at Cookshop.

Edible High Lines are the new trend this holiday season.

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