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Starry Night

A Brief History of the New York City Highline; alt. title "How My Dad Tamed the West Side Dragon."

In 1933, New York City's "West Side Elevated Line" opened, and for many years, she nursed the city by transporting millions of tons of meat, dairy, and produce to the ever-swelling waves of New Americans.  


But by the mid-1960s, train transport of "our daily bread" could not compete with the growing number of nimble trucks filled with the city's food and topped up with historically cheap gasoline.  


By the late 70s, the abandoned rail line was a rust-flaked eyesore when viewed from street level. This menacing prehistoric and aged dragon seemed to persist solely out of spite, only to starve the sidewalk of sunlight and Hudson River breezes. But Noah Greenberg saw past the beast's theatrics. Instead of scurrying underneath her to dodge the constant drips of fetid moisture, he would climb up the staircases, being confident (as only a man just shy of 40 can be) that the signs warning of danger and penalties of trespassing were empty threats, erected to keep Adam from the Garden; to save Noah from the "Manhattan Promenade."


High-Line-looking-north-from-Jane-Street-as-it-goes-through-former-Manhattan-Refrigeration-Co.-Building-now-West-Coast-Apartments-at-Horatio-St.
The view from the Dragon's back before it enters its Jane Street lair.

Noah, of course, was rewarded for his bravery. Cleared from the steel shadows and elevated from the din of the street, Noah was graced with the beauty and peaceful character of the sleeping giant and its railbed, now reclaimed by delicate wildflowers and hardy scrub trees.  


The first section of the line south of Bethune Street had already been demolished, yet Noah knew that this was an important historic structure that should be saved and repurposed.


High-Line-looking-north-up-Washington-Street-at-Little-West-12th-Street

When, in 1979, the villagers* grew restless enough to push for the city to tear down the remaining 1.4 miles of track, Noah was ready with a plan of his own. He presented the "Manhattan Promenade – an Urban Planning Proposal" to Ruth Wittenberg's Greenwich Village Historic Preservation Group in 1979. Noah's proposal was greeted with approval but was never brought to fruition. It would be many years before any similar proposals were considered and 30 years before the elevated park, the High Line, opened to the public in 2009.  


But had it not been for his opposition and vision, who's to say that the West Side Elevated Line wouldn't have been torn down long before it became the New York City HighLine, the park that dares to dream for the sky?  


Special Collection Exclusive to Minvera & Moneta:

Noah Greenberg's NYC (1975~1985) 


Noah (my father) spent much of my childhood with a pen and pad at the ready. The series of prints on offer exclusively through Minerva & Moneta represent a vibrant collection of pen, ink, and watercolor sketches that captured the heart and soul of a city in a monumental era

of change.

"Villiage Family" by Flo Fox
Yup, that's me, housing that ice cream cone. (PhotoCred:FloFox)

Treat yourself to a piece of this dynamic piece of history, a testament to the foresight and creative genius that brought New York City one of its most celebrated public spaces—transformed from an abandoned railway to a haven of urban greenery and modern design.

 

With every stroke of Noah's pen or touch of his brush, the essence of The Big Apple in the '70s comes alive, breathing poetry into the bustling streets, the brick row houses, and the very nature of New York life. Explore the intricate details of the city's architectural landmarks, each piece telling a unique story—an untold tale of the beloved 'West Side Elevated Line' or the living history etched into the fabric of New York's urban sprawl.  


What sets Noah's collection apart is rooted in its history. Contrary to the neatly groomed lawns and sleek walkways the HighLine offers today, the story of the "Manhattan Promenade" presents raw, unfiltered glimpses of an era filled with vigor, struggle, and spirit that resonate deeply with those that remember (or have visions of) the city as it really was. These prints aren't just picturesque; they're a vital part of New York's narrative—bold, unmistakable, and enduring.  


Resources and References 

Manahattan-Promenade-Proposal-abbrev.
.pdf
Download PDF • 384KB

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