On a gorgeous mid Autumn morning I headed to the west side of Manhattan to revisit The High Line , the urban park created from the old elevated rail road tracks running above 10th Avenue from Grosvenor Street to 34th Street. At one time this was a bustling industrial thoroughfare, still known as the Meat Packing District. I hadn’t been there since the current extension to 34th street and I planned to do some serious urban photography.
As I walked along the newly renovated path flanked by the old wooden and steel track I was amazed at how narrow certain points along this end of the park was and felt a bit claustrophobic ambling through the tapered canyon of old factories and warehouses. This close proximity though, offered me views that I would otherwise not have had and the subject matter was mostly old industrial with just a few bits of modern New York City peeking through. This was going to be a good day.
I arrived early around 7:30am and the sun was casting dark angular shadows across the walkway and I spent a good deal of time prowling up and down the same section taking images as the sun moved across the sky lighting up areas that five or ten minutes before were in the dark. The views were spectacular for a photographer whose niche is urban industrial, filled with some of my favorite subject matter; water towers, chimney caps, steam vents, zig-zagging fire escapes, cityscapes, TV antennas and satellite dishes, construction cranes, scaffolding and enough windows to make a peeping Tom feel he had died and gone to heaven. The morning sunlight exposed the rich red crumbling textures of the bricks and corroding metals against a deep blue sky and the shadows added dimension to an otherwise flat perspective. Mixed into this were the seasonal plants and flowers planted all along the High Line giving a natural look and beauty to this unique public park.
Looking further west up the car lined streets you can see the Hudson River and a little further north a glimpse of the Palisades. Looking east, Manhattan is spread out before you with the pointed top of the Empire State Building soaring high above its skyscraper neighbors. As I walked south toward the beginning of the park I could not help taking images of the rusting metal framework of the historic White-Star Cunard lines on Pier 54 that at one time was the epicenter of travel for the rich and famous from the mid 19th century to the mid 20th. This is where the Carpathia docked with the survivors of the Titanic and where the Lusitania embarked on her ill-fated journey home to England.
When I had descended to the street I became fascinated with the jumbled old cobble stone, a remnant of the horse-drawn carriage days, on Little West 12th Street. I was nearly run over by cabs numerous times as I became fixated on a reflection and would wander out into the middle of the road eyes focused downward trying to create an abstract composition.
My stomach was beginning to growl and I knew it was time for lunch at a local cafe and then the train ride home to Queens with a camera full of photographic treasures captured from this sui generis visual playground. Enjoy this little trip back in NYC history.