The High Line was constructed from 1929 1934 and remained operational for almost fifty years. It now spans twenty-two blocks from 34th Street to Gansevoort Street, and exists as a reminder of New York’s industrial past. In its prime, the Line ran from 35th Street down to Saint John’s Park Terminal, which covered four riverfront blocks between Clarkson and Spring Streets. It was built to support two fully loaded freight trains and was designed to go through the center of blocks and to connect factories and warehouses, such as 820 Washington Street. At one time treated as an obsolete piece of New York City scenery, the trestle is a rare piece of industrial archeology amidst the increasingly developed West Side. In its state of disuse, the old railroad line proved that out of death emerges life: sky-gazing passersby see that the elevated track is overgrown with greenery and wildflowers; a secret paradise suspended just thirty feet above everyday life, but out of reach.
In the late eighties, the owners of properties under the line began lobbying for demolition of the entire structure, and in 1991, a five-block long southern part of the Line was torn down. In 1999, Friends of the High Line was formed with the intention of preserving the Line. A series of photographs taken by Joel Sternfeld on the Line in 2000 and published in The New Yorker the following year introduced a national audience to the beauty of the High Line’s terrain, igniting the popular imagination to the possibilities inherent in this romantic landscape, which many New Yorkers had never realized was there. To learn more about the High line and see the current design plans go to www.thehighline.org.
NOTE: The High Line is currently private property, owned by CSX railroad. It is not open to the public. Trespassers will be subject to prosecution.