Riding the gritty High Line of the 1930s

HighlinefreighttrainCould anyone in 1934—the year the High Line opened—have predicted that the gritty elevated rail line running along Manhattan’s West Side in and out of factories and warehouses would be turned into a grassy, pedestrian-packed park 75 years later?

Probably not. These Parks Department photos reveal the High Line of a more industrial New York, a city with a bustling manufacturing base all along the far West Side.

A freight train heads downtown in the first one—dropping off raw materials or picking up finished products.

The second depicts the High Line south of Horatio Street, a section that was demolished in the 1960s.


The vantage point: the former Bell Laboratories, now known as Westbeth, residential and commercial space set aside by the city for artists.

What was the last shipment to be transported by train via the High Line before it closed in 1980? A load of frozen turkeys.

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3 Responses to “Riding the gritty High Line of the 1930s”

  1. Phyllis Craine Says:

    Where the frozen turkeys going in or out? I’m guessing they were being delivered 🙂

  2. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    In the 1960s on a hot sunny day I climbed up to the High Line and it was deserted up there, not a soul walked along the tracks. I read my paperback, Boys And Girls Together for a few hours and wasn’t bothered a bit. This was before the 1970s when homelessness was everywhere.

  3. What remains of the other end of the High Line | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Before it was transformed into the artists’ housing complex known as Westbeth in 1971, this handsome building was part of Bell Laboratories. […]

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