What remains of the other end of the High Line

High Line Park stretches along the West Side from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street, following the original tracks of the 1934 elevated railway — which trucked raw materials and finished goods in and out of Manhattan’s once-bustling factories.

Then at Gansevoort Street, right beside the gleaming new Whitney Museum, the park suddenly ends in a steep drop.

But the High Line itself never ended here. It continued south to Spring Street, zipping in and out of factories along Washington Street until it reached St. John’s Terminal at Pier 40.

What happened to this southern end of the High Line — which could have extended the park another mile or so?

As Manhattan’s manufacturing base shrank and rail shipping declined, the steel trestle was demolished starting in the 1960s bit by bit. Most of the factories that relied on the line were bulldozed to make way for the West Village Houses.

(A shame, sure, but it would have been inconceivable to New Yorkers back then that anyone would want to keep the rundown elevated railway and turn it into a beautiful park overlooking Tenth Avenue).

More than three decades since the entire line ceased in 1980, almost nothing of the southern end of the High Line survives.

But take a walk down Washington Street, where a few of the surviving factories have been turned into housing. You can easily see where the rail cars went in and out of 812 Washington Street, once part of the Manhattan Refrigerating Company (top two photos).

Same with the enormous, block-long building a few blocks down the street at Bethune Street (above).

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

Bell Labs was established here in the late 19th century; the company refitted their second floor to accommodate the High Line in the 1930s.

[Second photo: GVSHP; fourth photo: Friends of the High Line]

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7 Responses to “What remains of the other end of the High Line”

  1. Ruth Rogers Says:

    My father had his factory on the 2nd FL of the St John’s Bldg in the 1960s-70s. I remember the tracks that ran through the floors.

  2. Penelope Bianchi Says:

    I have never seen the “High Line”! I am coming in the middle of May; and I am going to the Whitney and walking the “High Line”! Even though I haven’t seen it…….I know it is genius! Thank God for the fore-thinking New Yorkers…..led by Amanda Burden……to create such a treasure for the City! I cannot wait!!!

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I think you’ll love it. The High Line has its critics but it really is a lovely reuse of the tracks, in my opinion.

  4. Pat Says:

    We used to have a lot of fun as kids getting to the Highline on that Southern end. We would first get up to the 4th floor roof of Westbeth then repel down a rope to the old railroad tracks. It was filthy but fun!

  5. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    If a kid tried that now, his parents would be arrested!

  6. Ephemeral NYC | famous writers Says:

    […] via What remains of the other end of the High Line — Ephemeral New York […]

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