Posts Tagged ‘Gansevoort Street’

What remains of the other end of the High Line

April 24, 2017

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]

A faded ad hangs on in the Meatpacking District

September 22, 2014

From the 1890s to the 1960s, grocers Middendorf & Rohrs operated a wholesale store out of this red-brick building at One Little West 12th Street.

Meatpackingfadedad

The grocers are long-gone, of course, like the rest of the wholesale markets (including Gansevoort Market down the block) that once called this grimy stretch of Manhattan home.

But what a treat to see that the name of the place is still visible on the facade!

Meatpackingfadedadcloseup

Hmm, could this Rohrs be the same Rohrs who opened the beloved (and recently shuttered) coffee emporium on the Upper East Side in 1896?

Struggling New York writer Herman Melville

October 6, 2010

New York artists and writers who fear their work will never be recognized should know the story of city native Herman Melville.

Born in 1819 on Pearl Street, Melville is now considered one of the greatest American authors.

But after some early critical success, his later works, like Moby-Dick, bombed.

So he returned in defeat. In 1863, he moved from New England to 104 East 26th Street, where he lived the rest of his life. A street sign designates the corner at Park Avenue South as “Herman Melville Square.” 

To support his family, Melville was forced to take a desk job.

For years he worked as a customs inspector in an office at West and Gansevoort Streets—fitting, since his mother’s relatives were the original Gansevoorts.

He would have no idea that after his death in 1891, his work would achieve great acclaim.

Melville had a way with words about his home city. Early in Moby-Dick, he describes Manhattan like this:

“There now is your insular city of Manhattoes, belted round by wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs—commerce surrounds it with her surf. Right and left, the streets take you waterward.

“It’s extreme down-town is the Battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out of sight by land. Look at the crowd of water-gazers there.”