High Line Demolition- crane with wrecking ball mounted on the trestle. Photo by Peter H. Fritsch (1962). Photo courtesy of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation/Fritsch Family Collection.
Before New York City’s High Line was the sleek, modern, elevated park in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, the line was constructed in 1934 as a elevated track for freight trains running cargo into the city. The line was originally two times the current length, running as far south as Spring Street, though most of it was demolished in 1960s. We’ve recently come across some interested photos of the dismantling of the High Line in 1962 from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation Image Archive.
This trio of photos from 1962 recently donated the GVSHP by the Fritsch family shows the dismantling of the southern section of the High Line by their home on Perry Street. This dismantling brings us back to a time when a lack in historic preservation completely changed aspects of the city.
Peter Fritsch, the photographer of these images was, along with his wife, pillars of the West Village activist community. Today the West Village remains one of the more historic neighborhoods of Manhattan thanks largely to the efforts of people like the Fritsch’s who fought hard protect and shape their neighborhood.
High Line Demolition- looking west on Perry Street. Photo by Peter H. Fritsch (1962). Photo courtesy of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation/Fritsch Family Collection
The High Line project started in 1934 and was spearheaded in part by none other than Master Builder Robert Moses, in an effort to get the dangerous freight trains off of 10th Avenue (nicknames Death Avenue).
Operating on an elevated track, the freights could transport cargo directly into buildings on Manhattan’s West Side, such as the warehouses for the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco), the present-day Chelsea Market.
Once trucking became a more common form of freight transportation, the High Line saw a steady decline in use, and in turn the Meatpacking District saw less business and went largely unused. In late 1980, the last train ran on the High Line carrying three carloads of frozen turkeys just in time for Thanksgiving.
High Line demolition- 141 Perry Street in background. Photo by Peter H. Fritsch (1962). Photo courtesy of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation/Fritsch Family Collection.
Prints of these images along with images in the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation historic image Archive are available for purchase.