As you know, we cover both the new High Line in New York City AND the West Side Freight Line it replaced.
Well, we are not alone.
Since 1850, street-level railroad tracks ran down Manhattan’s West Side. Fatal accidents between freight trains and street-level traffic gave 10th Ave. the nickname of “Death Ave.” So a speed limit was established, and for safety, “West Side Cowboys,” men on horses waving red flags or lanterns at night, preceded the trains.
In 1929, after years of debate, the city and state signed an agreement with the New York Central Railroad for The West Side Improvement Project, which included the High Line, a rail viaduct 18 feet to 30 feet above grade between 35th St. and the St. John’s Terminal building at Spring St.
The elevated rail line was completed in 1934.
In 1980, The Villager noted that the last train on the High Line carried a load of frozen turkeys.
In the mid-1980s a group of owners of property under the High Line began to demolish the remnant of the High Line. But a railroad enthusiast, Peter Obletz, acquired a title to the line from Conrail, the then owner, for $1. Obletz, who was chronicled in The Villager, became a member of Community Board 4 and envisaged a return to railroad use, and failing that, the creation of an elevated park.
In 1992, the stretch of the High Line that ran through the Village between Houston and Horatio Sts. was taken down to make way for residential development.
In 1999, The Villager began following the story of Friends of the High Line and its founders, Josh David and Robert Hammond, who were advocating for converting the viaduct into an elevated park.
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