The High Line

January 31st, 2004 · 45 Comments

When Mike invited me to join his group of urban explorers in going to the High Line I was really excited. Hopefully the Friends of the High Line‘s preservation plans will go through, but I wanted to experience the railroad as it is now, raw, before that. It wasn’t easy to walk it in the snow for hours, I was completely wet and freezing to death, but it was definitely worth it.

The High Line was built in the 1930s to elevate dangerous and congested railroad traffic from New York City’s streets. The rise of trucking in the 1950s led to a drop in rail freight on the High Line and in the 1960s part of the High Line was torn down. The final freight train to run on the High Line carried 3 carloads of frozen turkeys in 1980. In 1993 another chuck was demolished. Now there are plans to preserve the High Line and to convert it into a public park.

When Mike invited me to join his group of urban explorers in going to the High Line I was really excited. Hopefully the Friends of the High Line‘s preservation plans will go through, but I wanted to experience the railroad as it is now, raw, before that. It wasn’t easy to walk it in the snow for hours, I was completely wet and freezing to death, but it was definitely worth it. I will be posting many more photos soon.

The beginning of our walk, at about 33rd Street and 11th Avenue.

A No Trespassing sign, looking west towards New Jersey. You can see that we were at the same level as the street lights from the avenue below.

Looking down to the east at the Hudson Yards.

Looking west over the partially frozen Hudson River to New Jersey.

Looking south.

Somebody marked part of the rail for some reason.

More of the Hudson Yards.

At about 30th Street, looking east. The Empire State Building is on the left in the photo.

There is barbed wire everywhere along the High Line. It’s obvious they don’t want anyone up there.

Looking back west from where we came from. In the right of the photo is a billboard that is over 11th Avenue, which goes under the High Line here.

Steve eggs Tien on as he makes a snow angel.

A chimney stack catches the early morning sun.

The first of our major barriers. This wall is completely blocking off the railway.

A closer look and we see that there is a hole cut in the wall.

No problem!

Adam assisting Mike through the hole in the wall.

The other side of the wall has a beautiful mural of the view on the other side of the wall. “Save the Tracks” is spelled out in the clouds.

Save the Tracks.

Shortly after the first wall we came up to another one. Tien runs ahead to check it out.

This wall we had to lay down and shimmy under. Here, Steve peeks out from under the wall.

Tien down in the rails.

Moose Graffiti. I also have photographed a Moose tag in the Street Writing Project.

Through a hole in the wall of graffiti I take a peek at what’s going on below.

More graffiti.


Our shadows on the wall of a building on the side of the High Line.

And more graffiti.

A view down a street in the 20s.

Adam, Mike & Tien checking out some graffiti.


Neck Face

More barbed wire.

Cost & Revs are two very famous graffiti artists from the late 1980s to early 1990s.

Looking back.

Brick Wall

Empire State Building behind a church.

Adam and Steve.

Looking back.

Looking east.


Coming up to a building. Mike, Adam and I take the high road and Steve and Tien take the low road.

Inside the building there was tons of debris. These look like some sort of old machine parts.




Mike spotted these mannequins in a building east of the High Line.

Near the end of the High Line. We couldn’t find the way down so we ended up walking all the way to the beginning!

See Also:
Friends of the High Line

Other People’s Photos from our Adventure:
Winter High Line 1 by Mike
Winter High Line 2 by Mike
Winter High Line 3 by Mike
Winter High Line 4 by Mike
Walking the High Line by Tien
As Seen on the High Line by Tien
Seen From the High Line by Tien
Photographs of the High Line, by Rosecrans Baldwin in 2001
The High Line by Queso in August 2002
BluishOrange’s Photos of the High Line, August 2002
The Highline, by Jake Dobkin in August 2002
Photos of New York City’s High Line by David F. Gallagher, October 2002
a walk on the high line in June 24, 2003.

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45 Comments so far ↓

  • tien mao's little read book...

    Walking the High Line

    Early this morning, I met up with Rachelle, Mike, and a couple of Mike’s friends for a trip to the High Line. Not exactly the safest or wisest thing in the world to do, but a fun and entertaining…

  • Satan's Laundromat

    Winter High Line 1

    The High Line, an abandoned elevated line on the…

  • corie

    Nice photo, Rachelle. I love the Highline. It’s such a beautiful place to explore.

  • rachelleb

    thanks.. mike, tien and i have many more that we will be posting soon!

  • Chris

    I agree – friggin awesome photo! ‘scuse my novice knowledge of the city, but where exactly is that…?

  • rachelleb

    the shorty explanation is that it’s an old, abandoned elevated railroad track that is closed off now.

    all of my photos are posted now. I think tien and mike are still working on theirs.

  • matt

    That Save the Tracks mural is amazing!

  • Steve

    It was nice meeting you today, Rachelle. Your pics are great … makes me wish I’d had something other than my analog with me while we were up there.

  • rachelleb

    it was nice to meet you too.. i like the photo of you sneaking under the wall!

  • joe s

    Sweet! I love the first razor wire photo (#10), and the brick wall in #35 would make great wallpaper.

  • dad bowden

    Interesting photos Rachelle Mike and
    I did read a article last year in the wall street journal about the high line
    Question: Is that not in the area were they that is the mayor and other city officals.
    Would like to build the new Jet
    Great job guys

  • dmadeo

    Glad you guys didn’t get caught/ticketed with trespassing. That’s one way to leave NY!

  • rachelleb

    i know! we were trying to be careful if we saw any police or anything. luckily at the parking lot where we snuck in the attendant wasn’t there.

    dad, the new jets stadium is supposed to go either by or where the hudson yards are, i think.

  • joe s

    New stadium is to be built over the hudson yards.

    There were footprints in the snow. Did it look like lots of people had been up there in the past few days?

    The city’s in a bind with the trespassing thing. They don’t want people getting hurt, yet, all the photos are great publicity for turning the High Line into a unique park.

  • rachelleb

    in some places there were already footprints and in others were were on our own. in a way it was nice when there were already footprints because we could step in them and the snow wasnt as bad. on the otherhand, it was more exciting to know we were the first ones up there since the snowfall in some places where there were no footprints. of course this meant we had to plow through the snow on our own .. and in some spots it was over knee deep. also the snow made the footing really difficult. you didnt know what was under the snow… rail, garbage, plywood, etc. once mike stepped directly into a buried bucket and was thigh deep in the snow.

  • Mike

    There’s a thigh in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza…

  • eebmore

    that front page photo is fantastic!

  • impressed

    Terrific pictures, I have often wondered about the line, how long was the section you walked?

  • rachelleb

    we started at about 33rd and ended at about gansevoort.. so maybe like 20 blocks?

  • impressed

    thanks, and did it go further, or was that the end there? btw Your ‘photos on the site are always great, did you study photography or art?

  • rachelleb

    thanks, wi… uh.. impressed. i havent studied art or photography but would like to take some photography classes. the only photography class i’ve ever had lasted 1 quarter, was in 10th grade, and was mostly taken as an excuse to skip class to go “take photos”. goof off class. oh, and we walked to the end of the line, til there was no more.

  • adam

    the photos are fantastic. great work – it was great meeting you – continue your work as you venture to other places

  • tien mao's little read book...

    Seen on the High Line

    As promised, more photos from the High Line. These are random things I saw on the walk, including remnants of things from the rail line, a sign for the Chelsea Market, an old Sony boom box, and some artwork….

  • rachelle

    thanks, adam, it was nice to meet you too.

  • Richard

    I took that graphics arts class in high school too. It hardly qualifies as a photography class.

  • Steve

    Rachelle, which one of us is that in the title picture? Just curious.

  • rachelle

    yeh, Mr. Foos, the instructor of that class, is hardly a photographer. he used to rub the girls shoulders when we were trying to do our publishing work.. and lock us in the dark room with pubescent teenaged boys who had raging hormones. not a great idea.

    steve, i think that may be you in the photograph, but I’m not positive. someone else asked me too.. i should take another look at the original and see if i can tell. i think it’s either you or adam.

  • ChrisM

    Great Pics!!!!!

    Here is another abandoned “right of way” maybe you can tour it too ;-)

  • Richard

    Actually, it’s Fuhs… but who’s counting. Ya, that class was kind of a blowoff, but taking all the photos was kind of cool. I think I still have my photo album from that class. I don’t remember ever getting locked in the dark room with girls.

  • rachelleb

    yeh, and i bet he never tried to massage your shoulders either!!!!!! i still have my photo album too. it’s pretty sucky. at the end i didnt have enough photos even though we were supposedly taking photos every day so i brought in some negatives from home, from mom & dad’s camera, and developed them in the school dark room. we traded some negatives too.. i acidentally developed one photo flipped horizontally. i didnt know it was flipped horizontally because it was of someone else’s parents in someone else’s kitchen. i got busted because the words on something behind them, like dishwashing soap, was backwards and he was all like “dont you even know what your own kitchen looks like” and i was like.. “uh.. i didnt notice because that’s at our neighbor’s house.” im sure he believed that.. yeh. right.

    chris, the chicago tunnels look cool. ill have to look for them when i get there.

  • tien mao's little read book...

    Seen From the High Line

    Earlier, I had pictures of things I saw on the High Line, now I have some pictures of things that I saw from the High Line. The High Line has an endless supply of photo worthy items. While it…

  • Richard

    i think i ended up ripping off some photos too. he always told us that we were just supposed to go to the park across the street, but then never said anything when our photos were from all around town.

  • rachelleb

    fuhs told us that if he saw a photo of the clocktower downtown and it said 1:30 (or a time that was obviously a time that we were supposed to be in the park taking photos) then he would assume we had checked out a camera and taken photos on the weekend. that was basically permission for us to skip class. only one student got in trouble and that was because he was harassing kids who were running the mile for gym class. the gym teacher complained .. what was his name? mr. murray? …and that student guy had to sit inside for the rest of the semester and take photos of pictures in magazine. brutal.

  • Richard

    i think it was Mimier. (sp?) one time i got out of running the mile in phy ed by saying that my ankle hurt from the track meet the night before. it did kind of hurt, but i still probably could have ran.

  • tien mao's little read book...

    Graffiti on the High Line

    Finally, the end of my High Line posts. It turns out that I have tons of photos of graffiti on the High Line. I don’t have the skill they call restraint when it comes to deciding what photos to…

  • sassylittlepunkin

    wow, rachelle, thanks for taking me on that virtual photo tour! i’ve been seeing tien’s photos show up on his page, too, and it’s just been amazing. i never knew the high line even existed! you guys are brave to have done the journey, what with the scooting under walls and going through old buildings. were you scared?

  • rachelle

    the only scary part to me was around the hudson yards. . its pretty wide open so you could totally see us up there and there were also helicopters flying around on the hudson river so they for sure saw us. to top it off, hudson yards has a really loud PA system and when they would talk i would think they were yelling at us and i was ready to instinctively drop to my knees and put my hands up!!!

  • Satan's Laundromat

    Winter High Line 5

        High Line photos, January 31, 2004: Winter…

  • Satan's Laundromat

    Winter High Line 4

    High Line photos, January 31, 2004:Winter High Line 1,…

  • Satan's Laundromat

    Winter High Line 3

      High Line photos, January 31, 2004:Winter High Line…

  • Satan's Laundromat

    Winter High Line 2

      –> High Line photos, January 31, 2004:Winter High…

  • Mike

    BTW, that train yard is called West Side Yard, not Hudson Yards.

  • links

    Neckface in the New Yorker

    Neckface in the New Yorker. We saw a lot of his work when we walked the High Line….

  • Gothamist

    Builders Weigh Cost of Bloomie’s Wrath

    Unsurprisingly, builders yesterday were wary about making an offer for the air rights for the West Side railyards, which the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has opened up for the next month to public bidding. While “licking their chops” at the p…

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