Thursday, April 10, 2008

The High Line and Chelsea Market

Last weekend we ended up visiting one of our favorite spots, Chelsea Market, no more than a ten minute walk from the apartment. Chelsea Market represents one of those great building reuse stories through which a bit of innovative thinking trumps the wrecker's ball. The building occupied by Chelsea Market is especially significant because for decades it was the principal manufacturing facility for the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco). The first Oreos (1913), Barnum's Animal Crackers, Saltines, Mallomars, and Uneeda Biscuits (1898) were produced in this building. But like so many manufacturing concerns in Manhattan, Nabisco began relocating its operations to New Jersey in the 1950s and by 1959 sold the building. Once one of the largest sites in a neighborhood littered with empty and decaying warehouses and factories, the building thankfully survived to experience this renaissance, housing not only the Chelsea Market, but numerous other businesses and offices on the upper floors.

The first photo in the set below shows part of the "High Line," an elevated railway constructed in 1930 to serve the manufacturing plants that once stretched down Manhattan's west side from about 34th Street to Clarkson Street. the High Line literally ran through the buildings, eliminating dangerous traffic crossings on the streets below. Beginning in the 1950s, use of the High Line declined and in the 1960s sections of it were torn down. The last train ran in 1980. By the 1980s the entire structure of elevated tracks was threatened with demolition. Thankfully the outcry of citizens stalled these efforts and today, because of the work of groups like "Friends of the High Line," sections are slated for redevelopment as elevated park and promenade areas. (Check out their website to learn more about the project.) The neighborhood beneath the High Line, particularly those streets in the area popularly known as "the meatpacking district," has undergone significant improvement in recent years and is now home to many fashionable restaurants and art galleries. The second and third photos show a walkway joining the Chelsea Market building with another old Nabisco warehouse across the street.

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BooCat said...

The more you post, the more wanderlust is kindled in my heart to go back to New York. I haven't had my NYC fix for several years now. The Chelsea Market is now on my list, not to mention checking out the High Line parks to see how they are coming along. All of your fantastic photographs of your neighborhood make me want to explore that area. Since our class actions is finally being heard by the Court of Civil Appeals next week, perhaps soon I will be solvent enough to afford a visit.

jblack designs said...

I love your NYC posts. I'm with Boocat--they make me want to go back sooner than I thought I might.

Your post also reminded me of when I was very little, when our family lived in Atlanta. One of my fondest memories is of going downtown to Rich's Department Store and walking on the skywalk between the two buildings, over busy downtown streets.

Here's an old postcard image: