History

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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;

Author: 
admin
ed devlinEd Devlin, on his wedding day in 1950, and working at the Metropolitan Museum in 2009
 

We were recently lucky enough to speak with a former New York Central Railroad employee named Ed Devlin. Sixty years ago, Ed worked at the rail yards that fed onto the High Line when it was part of a working railroad. He was kind enough to share his memories from long before the park in the sky was ever known as the High Line.

ED: It was 1949, and I had just come out of the Marine Corps. I worked at New York Central from 1949 to 1953. My hours were 6:00 PM to 2:00 AM – devastating hours for a newlywed. Approximately once a week, I'd be sent over to the rail yards at 10th to 12th  Avenue in the west 70's. My job was just to look at the freight train as it went by.

I would stand there near a spotlight and do two things. I had to write down the name of each freight car – New York Central, Bangor & Maine, Pennsylvania Railroad, Santa Fe, etc. – and the number on the car, which had something like nine or ten digits. And even though the train was moving at maybe eight or nine miles an hour, it went by fast. It was tricky. I had to remember the names and numbers and write quickly.

At first I wondered why I was doing this. And then I found out that each railroad would charge the other railroads a passage fee for using their tracks. Additionally, it was important to make sure the cars were in the right order for every building scheduled for the drop. The cars' numbers related to their proper order.

Author: 
admin
tommy
 

Friends of the High Line staff have known neighborhood resident Tommy Flamer for a long time. Before Section 1 opened, Tommy was a fixture at all of our Rail Yards hearings, community meetings, and public programs. We would often spot him walking underneath the High Line, looking up.  Always curious and ready to chat, his excitement and friendly demeanor led to quick friendships with many of us on staff. Since the park opened, Tommy sightings on the High Line have been commonplace.

When I finally got to sit down with Tommy on a brisk December evening to ask him some questions, I found an untapped treasure chest of historical information on the High Line and the surrounding neighborhood. Tommy has lived in Chelsea since 1968, and has lived in his current home on 18th Street since 1979. As a young man he worked as a stock boy at the now defunct Valley Drugs, a pharmacy on 14th Street and 7th Avenue, and then as an elevator operator in London Terrace and at the Leo House.

Author: 
admin
1948The West Side, from about West 15th Street to West 10th Street. Courtesy Nick Jones.
 

High Line supporter Nick Jones recently sent this great aerial shot our way. He tells us it was taken in 1948, and that the aircraft  (from left to right a Stinson SR-10, Grumman Widgeon, and Grumman Goose) are all NYPD planes.

Author: 
Anonymous
Peter ObletzObletz outside his home in 1983
 

The High Line in 2009 is a story of success. After ten years of arguing, working, raising money, convincing, and building, the High Line finally opened as the civic marvel that many had dreamed it could become during its decades of disuse. However, this story of success began with a much earlier fight back in the 1970s , when a man named Peter Obletz first walked the High Line- what he referred to as a "mile and a half long cocktail sausage on toothpicks." Though Obletz ultimately failed to convince the city to reuse the High Line, his initial fight paved the way for the successes of the future.

Obletz, a former dance-company manager and train enthusiast, lived in a concrete block railroad building next door to two antique rail cars he had painstakingly restored in the late 1970s. Obletz took his first trip up to the High Line during this time and fell in love immediately. The subsequent story has been recounted many times since, from his purchase of the line from Conrail for $10, to his long and draining fight to preserve it both for commercial and public use, to his untimely death in 1996.

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