History

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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.

Author: 
Anonymous
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While the High Line itself is rich with its own unique and storied history, it is also part of the larger historical context of the city it has called home for over a century. In this recurring series, we hope to rediscover the High Line by taking a look at some of the important historical locations in the surrounding area.

Built between 1880 and 1900, The Westbeth Artists Community is located at 463 West Street. From 1898 to 1966 it functioned as a laboratory for the Bell Telephone company, when it served as America's largest industrial research lab. Many major technological inventions and innovations in the field of telecommunications trace its origins to the lab, including the first experimental talking movie, radar, the first phonograph record, and black and white and color television, an invention of particular significance for fans of such fine modern television programming as The Jerry Springer Show and Baywatch. The site was even home to part of the Manhattan Project during World War II.

Author: 
Sanaya Kaufman
Photo by Glen Wilson.

Friends of the High Line Board Member Edward Norton has pledged to match every gift made in December, up to $100,000, with a gift to support the construction of the High Line. 

Make a year-end donation to Friends of the High Line and your money will work twice as hard for the High Line!

Author: 
Anonymous

The 1930's Federal Writers Project WPA Guide to New York City, which I love, has a great description of the Hudson waterfront during the time the High Line was built. From the chapter "West Street and North (Hudson) River Waterfront":

"The broad highway, West Street and its continuations, which skirts the North River from Battery Place to Fifty-ninth Street, is, during the day, a surging mass of back-firing, horn-blowing, gear-grinding trucks and taxis. All other water-front sounds are submerged in the cacophony of the daily avalanche of freight and passengers in transit. Ships and shipping are not visible along much of West Street. South of Twenty-third Street, the river is walled by an almost unbroken line of bulkhead sheds and dock structures. North of Twenty-third Street, an occasional open spot in the bulkhead permits a glimpse of the Hudson and the Jersey Shore beyond."


Author: 
Anonymous
EnlargeCourtesy Mary Habstritt.
This 1930's shot was taken looking West along 30th Street from around 11th Avenue, as the High Line was being built. Construction equipment can be seen mounted onto temporary rails. Cranes were built to pass over the trains in the rail yards.

Author: 
Anonymous
Enlarge1930's High Line
A view looking Southwest at the working rail yards, taken shortly after the High Line was built (date and photographer unknown).

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