Sonya Kharas

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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.

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