Photo(s) of the Week: The High Line, Then and Now

What a difference time makes! Walking the High Line today, it's difficult to imagine the space without its tended gardens and innovative design that attracts millions to the destination each year. But only a few short years ago, the elevated park was fully unrestrained in its natural beauty, poles apart from the space as we currently know it. In 1999, co-founders Robert Hammond and Joshua David recognized the potential of the abandoned railroad and dreamt of ways to harness its unkempt splendor. Once a fledgling organization, Friends of the High Line cultivated this seed of an idea, and it bloomed into the outstanding park that exists today.

These pictures illustrate the High Line's gradual transformation from its construction in 1933 to its present appearance as a public park. Each photograph portrays the view of the High Line looking east along 30th Street toward Hudson Yards.The first photo was taken in 1933 when construction of the High Line, then called the New York Central Elevated Spur, was nearly complete.

This next picture displays the view along West 30th Street in the 1950s, captured by Jim Shaughnessy.

This third photo, captured by Joel Sternfeld in 2000, shows the abandoned railway over seventy-five years later.

The fourth photo by Timothy Schenck depicts the construction of the High Line at the Rail Yards in 2013. Wild plants and grasses, which set root when the freights trains ground to a halt in the 1980s, are still visible in between the old rail tracks.

The last photo is of the High Line as it appears in 2015, taken by Rowa Lee. It highlights the addition of the 11th Avenue Bridge, a raised walkway now thoughtfully framed by plants.

From the juxtaposition between images, we see that time has made all the difference in both landscape and overall scenery. Although the greenery runs a little less rampantly to make room for visitors, what remains is an underlying appreciation for the local community, and for the railroad's original terrain.

Photos credits: Photographer unknown; Jim Shaughnessy; Joel Sternfeld courtesy of Luhring Augustine, New York; Timothy Schenck; and Rowa Lee

Follow the High Line on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more historical photos!

Recent Posts
Plant of the Week: Sweetclover
view post
Plant of the Week: Northern maidenhair fern
view post