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The History of the High Line, New York City


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Now one of the top tourist attractions in New York City, the High Line was originally designed because 10th Avenue, between the waterfront on the lower West Side of Manhattan was known as "death avenue". How did it become a park?

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The History of the High Line, New York City

  1. 1. The History of the High Line The first rail tracks on the lower west side of Manhattan were laid along 10th and 11th Avenues south from Penn Station. This was so dangerous that cowboys were hired to ride ahead of trains to warn pedestrians. NEW YORK MINUTE
  2. 2. THE HIGH LINE Despite the warnings from the “West Side Cowboys” there were so many accidents that 10th became known as Death Avenue as trucks and workers from the docks constantly crossed the tracks.
  3. 3. THE HIGH LINE As accidents mounted and traffic increased, pressure increased for a solution to the dangerous problem. North of Penn Station, the rail line along the west side of Manhattan was moved underground and is still used today. South, negotiations resulted in the West Side Improvement Project to raise the rail line above street level. This became known as the High Line. It ran over the streets and through warehouses and buildings it served. The High Line opened in 1934.
  4. 4. THE HIGH LINE The Original High Line Rail Line ran from the train yards at 35th Street to St. John’s Park Terminal at Spring Street, near where the Holland Tunnel currently enters Manhattan. It was 13 miles long. It eliminated 105 street level rail crossings; required the destruction of 640 buildings and ran directly through factories and warehouses for loading and unloading. Part of the project was the construction of an adjacent elevated highway, known as the West Side Highway.
  8. 8. THE HIGH LINE One key building was the sprawling Nabisco Factory on Ninth Avenue, between 15th and 16th. There was also a building on 10th. Trains would deliver flour and other goods directly to the factory, as the High Line ran through it. The Oreo cookie was invented there in 1912.
  9. 9. THE HIGH LINE In 1960 the southernmost portion was demolished and the High Line ended at Gansevoort Street.
  10. 10. THE HIGH LINE As trucking overtook rail for transportation of goods, use of the High Line dropped. The last run was a train of turkeys to the meat-packing district in 1980.
  11. 11. THE HIGH LINE New York Minute takes place in July 1977, when the High Line was still partially in operation. The protagonist, William Kane, eats every morning in Vic’s Diner, caddy corner from the High Line’s stub on the southeast corner of Gansevoort and Washington. This plays a significant role in the book.
  12. 12. THE HIGH LINE After 1980, the High Line was abandoned and mostly forgotten about. Nature began to take over.
  13. 13. THE HIGH LINE While debate over the fate of the elevated rail line went on, trees grew and some people found the urban wilderness.
  14. 14. THE HIGH LINE A proposal was put forth that instead of demolishing the rail line, it should be repurposed into an urban trail for pedestrian use. Construction began in 2006.
  15. 15. THE HIGH LINE As the lower West Side of Manhattan, the former Meatpacking District, became more fashionable, the High Line became one of the largest tourist attractions in New York City.
  16. 16. THE HIGH LINE The Whitney Museum of American Art opened a new building next to the stub of the High Line on Gansevoort.
  17. 17. THE HIGH LINE The abandoned Nabisco Factory became the most expensive property in Manhattan and is now Chelsea Market. You can see the High Line going through the re- purposed factory, bought by Google in 2018 for $2.4 billion. The climactic scene of New York Minute occurs in the
  18. 18. THE HIGH LINE
  19. 19. THE HIGH LINE But in 1977, Vic’s Diner, where Will Kane stops every morning for breakfast, is caddy-corner from the stub of the High Line, on the corner of Gansevoort and Washington. The lower West Side and the Meatpacking District, is derelict, a sign of a city that appears ready to go down the drain.
  20. 20. New York City. 1970s. Jack Reacher meets the Equalizer by NY Times Bestselling Author, West Point graduate and former Green Beret One of the top five new series of the year.
  21. 21. Print Book Free downloadable Powerpoint slideshows on survival, history writing, and interesting information are available HERE
  22. 22. About the author: Bob Mayer up in the Bronx, New York City; graduated West Point, served in the Infantry including leading a recon platoon in the First Cav Division, and then Special Forces (Green Berets), commanding an A-Team and other assignments. After leaving active duty he studied martial arts in the Orient and was brought back for numerous ADSW (Active Duty Special Work) tours in Special Operations. He’s lived on an island off the east coast, an island off the west coast, in the Rocky Mountains, the hill country of Texas, the hills of New England, the Appalachians and other places. They haven’t caught up to him yet. He is the New York Times bestselling author of over 80 books.