Posts Tagged ‘trains in New York City’

Riding the gritty High Line of the 1930s

January 27, 2014

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.

Highlinefromwestbeth1935

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.

When 11th Avenue was known as “death avenue”

August 16, 2010

Poor 11th Avenue. About a century ago, this unpretty stretch along Manhattan’s West Side, surrounded by factories and warehouses from Chelsea through midtown, also had train tracks on its surface to accommodate the New York Central freight line.

Problem was, cars, carriages, and pedestrians often found themselves in the way of the freight trains, earning 11th Avenue the colorful moniker “death avenue.”

To warn vehicles and people away from oncoming trains, a group of men on horseback called the West Side Cowboys rode ahead of the trains, waving a flag.

But not everyone paid attention—note the guy in white crossing in front of a train in this undated Bain News Service photo.

After years of community group and city pressure, the tracks were torn up in the 1930s. They were replaced by the High Line, which picked up its last shipment from one of the avenue’s factories in 1980.