Railroads started building tracks and spreading across the eastern states in the mid 1830s and by the 1850s there was a massive train yard in Manhattan just east of the Hudson River between 30th and 43rd Streets. The island was criss-crossed with railroad tracks at the ground level and even with a rider on a horse warning pedestrian about approaching trains, accidents happened.
Finally, the industrial spur lines feeding the industries south of the rail yards were raised high above street level. The High Line continued to provide train service into the 1950s, until many industries left Manhattan and trucking started to replace rail service for those that remained. The elevated track system sat idle and slowly began to decay
The Hudson Rail Yard was the area under consideration if New York had won the Olympics for Summer 2012, but once that was lost, new concepts for redevelopment began to be considered. The High Line was planned for demolition.
Strong advocates pushed for turning the High Line into a linear park and the first of three segments was opened in 2009. The second segment which runs north to 34th Street opened in June 2011. A third section remains to be renovated.
Formerly a predominantly industrial neighborhood, this area of the West Side also provided lower income housing. Now, however, there has been considerable investment in the area with people like designer Diane Von Furstenburg establishing offices. New construction of office and residential towers has prompted the City to plan to extend one of the cross-town subway lines and discussion has started about construction of a new north-south subway along the west side once the economy improves.
New York, not only the City That Never Sleeps, but one that continually reinvents itself.