The Highline

The final print in our New York series was taken of West 14th Street from the High Line. Gerry and Lotta spent a day walking up and down the High Line trying to find the right spot for the print. They liked the open view of West 14th street. It seemed like the classic New York street, with plenty of traffic and the road looking very much like a valley between all the buildings.

From death avenue to parklife

The High Line is a great place in New York, it's a former railroad track that has been turned into a one mile long elevated park. The trainline itself was first built in 1847 when a street-level railroad was laid along Manhattan's West Side.

For safety the railroad hired men, who were called the “West side Cowboys”, to ride horses and wave flags as the trains went past. It didn't help though and 10th Avenue became known as the Death Avenue.

In 1929 building work started on the High Line which was going to improve safety. The railroad opened in 1934 and originally ran from 34th Street to Spring Street. Amazingly the tracks connected directly to factories and warehouses along the line, allowing trains to roll inside buildings.

As interstate trucking became ever more popular in the 1950s the railroads started looking outdated. The last train on the High Line delivered three carloads of frozen turkeys in the 1980s.

In the mid-1980s some property owners in the area were trying to have the High Line demolished, but a local resident put up such a fight that not much happened. In the 90s the line was in disrepair. Then-mayor Rudy Giuliani also wanted it to be demolished. But in 1999 the Friends of the High Line started lobbying for it being preserved and used as a public space. In 2004 the New York City government realised it was quite a good idea. Construction started in 2006 and the High Line opened as a city park on June 8 2009.


Meatpacking madness

Our Highline print looks out over the Meatpackign district, an area that is now super trendy and full of very expensive shops and restaurants. The area was developed in the mid 1800s and has since had its ups and downs.

Unlike the rest of Manhattan the area and the adjacent Greenwich Village has an irregular street pattern. A result of a clash between the Greenwich Village street system and the Commissioners' Plan of 1811 which was creating a regular grid of streets on the undeveloped parts of the island.

Back in the day the area wasn't considered very nice and houses were turned into industrial properties. In the early 1900s the area had around 250 slaughterhouses and packing plants – hence the name. Then came supermarkets and freight. Meat was no longer produced and packed within the city itself and the Meatpacking district started falling into disrepair.

In the 70s a new industry took over the empty industrial spaces, the party industry. Nightclubs started popping up, but the downward spiral continued. In the 80s it became known as a centre for drug dealing and prostitution and for several Mafia owned sex clubs.

As the clubs were closed yet another industry moved in and the Meatpacking district became synonymous with the fashion industry. According to New York magazine it's the city's most fashionable neighbourhood.

Our illustration

In this print Gerry decided to pick out a couple of characters who are repeated in the traffic. Can you pick out which ones?