West Side Cowboys in Literature
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;
"Larry Angeluzzi spurred his jet-black horse proudly through a canyon formed by two great walls of tenements, and at the foot of each wall, marooned on their separate blue-slate sidewalks, little children stopped their games to watch him with silent admiration. He swung his red lantern in a great arc; sparks flew from the iron hoofs of his horse as they rang on railroad tracks, set flush in the stones of Tenth Avenue, and slowly following horse, rider and lantern came the long freight train, inching its way north from St. John's Park terminal on Hudson Street."
The novel follows the lives of a family of immigrants living in Hell’s Kitchen, in the days before the High Line was constructed. Puzo himself was raised in this area, and drew heavily on his experience for the book. Though it was a critical success, The Fortunate Pilgrim was a commercial failure. It did, however, pave the way for a book he wrote a few years later, The Godfather.