Story Behind the Shot: Twilight at the Rail Yards
In celebration of our new 18-month High Line Calendar, we’re exploring each month’s featured image to bring you more of the behind-the-scenes details.
Photographer Barry Munger captured this dreamy shot of the High Line at the Rail Yards in the summer of 2007, nearly two years before the first section of the park would open to the public. Barry has been a longtime supporter and friend of the park, often focusing his keen eye and old-school film cameras on a variety of High Line subjects.
In 2007, when this photo was taken, construction was underway on the first two sections of the High Line from Gansevoort to West 30th Streets. Section 1 of the park, running from Gansevoort to West 20th Streets, would open to the public nearly two years later, and Section 2 would open a year after that. Yet, in 2007, there was still uncertainty surrounding the High Line at the Rail Yards. It wasn’t clear whether the full vision of the High Line could be realized and this last half-mile stretch saved and transformed into public space. It would be over five years before the future of this final piece of the High Line would be secured.
Since the inception of Friends of the High Line, the High Line at the Rail Yards has never failed to inspire. This northernmost stretch of the historic structure runs between West 30th and West 34th Streets and 10th and 12th Avenues, slowly curving around the West Side Rail Yards and sloping down to street-level near the Javits Center. Its east-west orientation, which differs from the rest of the High Line, allows for sweeping views of the Hudson River – including stunning sunsets over New Jersey – and amazing views of the New York City skyline and iconic Empire State Building.
In the autumn of 2007, Friends of the High Line partnered with openhousenewyork, bringing 5,000 members of the public into the High Line at the Rail Yards for the first time. Every year since there have been opportunities for the public to experience this still-wild section of the railway, from reoccurring openhousenewyork tours to the more recent High Line Art tours of Carol Bove’s Caterpillar installation. At the same time, Friends of the High Line fought for this section to become a permanent part of the park.
Late in 2011 a major step forward was made toward opening the High Line at the Rail Yards to the public. On November 1, 2011, for the first time all stakeholders publicly stated their commitment to preserving and transforming the High Line at the Rail Yards, including the 10th Avenue Spur, a small section that juts out over 10th Avenue at West 30th Street. Several community input meetings and design revisions later, wildflower seeds were ceremoniously tossed at an official groundbreaking ceremony on September 20, 2012.
Among a variety of design features that respond to the unique context of this section, the High Line at the Rail Yards will feature an interim walkway through the stretch of railway featured in Barry’s stunning photo. This simple pathway will allow visitors to experience the self-seeded landscape of Queen Anne’s lace, foxtail grasses, small trees, and other so-called volunteer species that took root at the rail yards after the trains stopped running in 1980. Construction is now well underway with a goal of opening most of the High Line at the Rail Yards to the public in 2014.
Purchase our 18-month High Line Calendar for this and many more beautiful photos of the High Line through four seasons. Or, for a limited time, members who join or renew at the Rail level will receive our beautiful new calendar as a special thank-you gift. Join or renew today.