New York Central Railroad || The High Line

Railroad: New York Central Railroad
Location: New York City, New York
Date: 1957
Credit: Jim Shaughnessy, Center for Railroad Photography & Art

New York Central 8350 negotiates the West Side Line of the railroad’s elevated freight track through downtown Manhattan at West 30th Street and 11th Avenue.

The line was part of a crucial local freight corridor dating back to 1847. With its tracks originally in the middle of busy streets, the route earned the nickname “Death Avenue” for its many accidents.

In 1924, city leaders ordered the removal of the dangerous street-level crossings. That led to the West Side Improvement Project, which had elevated the entire rail line by 1934. Traffic declined with the growth of the trucking industry, and the last train ran in 1980.


Trail: The High Line
Trail length: 1.45 miles
Date: September 21, 2021
Credit: Paul Hensler, courtesy of the photographer

In 2021, Paul Hensler recreated the same perspective of Jim Shaughnessy’s 1957 photograph. A coronavirus vaccination tent stands under the former rail bridge as an indicator of the times.

Repurposed from the abandoned freight railroad, the High Line opened in 2009 as an elevated linear park and greenway. The trail has found tremendous success, attracting eight million visitors annually and becoming a benchmark project for the redevelopment of derelict infrastructure into public spaces. The park even preserves some New York Central rails and ties to honor its former use.

Exhibited by:


More from CRP&A

The Elroy-Sparta State Trail_2
The Elroy-Sparta State Trail
Impacts of Rail-Trails: Legislation
Impacts of Rail-Trails: Health
Impacts of Rail-Trails: Environment