Posts Tagged ‘Westbeth artists housing’

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]

The Village Halloween Parade’s humble start

October 28, 2009

For years, it’s been a colossal spectacle, with deep crowds lining Sixth Avenue, thousands of marchers donning fantastically creative props and costumes, and live TV coverage capturing each moment.

Plus tons of cops, police barricades, drunken kids, and litter—lots of litter.

But in the early 1970s, the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade was more of a small-scale bit of street theater, a mile-long walk planned by a local mask-maker and pupeteer for his West Village neighbors.

Villagehalloweenparade

The giant caterpillars of the 1998 parade, standing tall on Sixth Avenue

It started in the courtyard of Westbeth, the factory-turned-artist lofts on Bethune Street. From there, a few dozen revelers in masks and costumes—including a man in a lobster outfit and a two-headed pig—wandered along the Village’s side streets to Washington Square.

The parade’s popularity took off fast—as did the number of marchers and viewers. By 1984, the parade grew so massive, the route had to be relocated to Sixth Avenue from Spring Street to 22nd Street to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of people who came to the Village to see it.