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Author: 
Anonymous
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.”

Author: 
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.

Author: 
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.

Author: 
Erika Harvey
Construction crews work on the steel structure of the High Line on West 30th Street. Photographer Unknown

When this photograph was taken in 1933, construction of the High Line, then called the New York Central Elevated Spur, was nearly complete. The elevated railway would soon be carrying freight trains filled with fresh food and manufactured goods up and down Manhattan’s West Side.

Author: 
Erika Harvey
Photo by Jim Shaughnessy
 

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we’re reminded of a fun fact from the High Line’s industrial past. As legend has it, in 1980, after years of declining use, the final train chugged down the elevated railway, carrying three carloads of frozen turkeys.

Author: 
Kate Lindquist
Friends of the High Line staff take a tour of the Reading Viaduct with members of the non-profit group dedicated to creating a public park in the space, Viaduct Greene. Photo by Rick Darke.Friends of the High Line staff take a tour of the Reading Viaduct with members of the non-profit group dedicated to creating a public park in the space, Viaduct Greene. Photo by Rick Darke.
 

New York City is not the only urban center in the United States with an elevated railway like the High Line.

Enlargereading viaduct2

In Philadelphia, an old freight and passenger rail line called the Reading Viaduct winds above the streets and between buildings just north of the city’s center. Just like the High Line, the trains stopped running decades ago, and since then nature has taken over the tracks. The self-seeded landscape has inspired some local residents to join together to advocate for the historic structure to be transformed into public open space.

We took a field trip to Philadelphia on October 20 to walk the line, observe the wild landscape, and share ideas with Paul vanMeter and Liz Maillie of Viaduct Greene, the non-profit dedicated to creating a new public park on the structure. Follow us after the jump for photos and more.

Author: 
Erika Harvey
Emily and KidsBefore it was transformed into a public park, the High Line carried freight trains to and from the warehouses and factories along Manhattan’s West Side. Today, the High Line serves as a tool to teach kids about the city’s industrial history.
 

Halloween Hi-Jinks on the High Line is one of several educational initiatives to strengthen our partnerships with the neighborhood public schools, and teach kids about the High Line through fun, interactive, hands-on activities.

WATCH VIDEO: New York City News Service covered the event. Check out their news video.

We would like to thank the following organizations for supporting our partnerships with local public schools: the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, with additional support from the Altman Foundation; The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston; The Concordia Foundation; The Milton & Sally Avery Arts Foundation; and, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Follow us after the jump for a photo tour of the project.

Author: 
Kate Lindquist


Designers, architects, engineers, and planning nerds like us will appreciate A.O. Scott’s review of Gary Hustwit’s new film, Urbanized in today’s New York Times.

“Like a really good class taught by a team of enthusiastic professors, Urbanized supplies grist for many late-night arguments or solitary ruminations. It is worth venturing out of your room, climbing on your bike or boarding a low-emissions bus and fighting your way through a crowd to see.”

Author: 
Salmaan Khan
EnlargeA West Side Cowboy.

Friends of the High Line supporter Flo Muller was kind enough to point out a fascinating description of the days before the High Line, filled with cowboys and trains on the streets of Manhattan, in Mario Puzo’s book The Fortunate Pilgrim;

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