History Lesson, Pt. 1: The Westbeth Artists Community

While the High Line itself is rich with its own unique and storied history, it is also part of the larger historical context of the city it has called home for over a century. In this recurring series, we hope to rediscover the High Line by taking a look at some of the important historical locations in the surrounding area.

westbeth_small1Built between 1880 and 1900, The Westbeth Artists Community is located at 463 West Street. From 1898 to 1966 it functioned as a laboratory for the Bell Telephone company, when it served as America’s largest industrial research lab. Many major technological inventions and innovations in the field of telecommunications trace its origins to the lab, including the first experimental talking movie, radar, the first phonograph record, and black and white and color television, an invention of particular significance for fans of such fine modern television programming as The Jerry Springer Show and Baywatch. The site was even home to part of the Manhattan Project during World War II. Continue reading

Stop and Smell the Roses

Friends of the High Line moved offices last month, and our new West Chelsea digs are a bit further from the subway. I’ve been using my morning and evening commute to get to know our new neighborhood.

Our new office is just west of the Chelsea Historic District [PDF], where the beautiful Greek Revival townhouses of Cushman Row encourage pedestrians to stop and smell the proverbial roses. Or in this case, the literal ones.

This photo, taken yesterday, shows the roses that are now blooming along the gates of the General Theological Seminary on 20th Street. The gothic-looking Seminary, built on land donated by Clement Clarke Moore, is a beautiful oasis of greenery, and a great place to check out if you’re in the neighborhood.

From Rinses to Retail, Chelsea Car Wash Makes its Exit

[The Chelsea Car Wash at West 14th Street & 10th Avenue, before the sign was taken down.]

As many Chelsea dwellers, West Side Highway & Hudson River Park commuters, taxi drivers, and car wash enthusiasts may have noticed, the distinctive red Chelsea Car Wash sign has disappeared. It was removed from where it was attached to the High Line about a month ago with little fanfare.

In the coming months, the Car Wash– one of the characteristic staples of the working West Side–will close its garage doors to make way for a new retail location on the corner of West 14th Street and 10th Avenue.

[Design and renderings by Richard Lanka & Associates, for a new retail location, developed by the Milk Group with Robert K. Futterman.]

There’s currently no tenant booked, but in the next year or so, the Milk Group (as in Milk Studios, next door), aims to find a design, fashion, or other retail tenant for this 40,000-square-foot space directly underneath the High Line. Renderings from their sales office show wrap-around windows in Car Wash-like glass. There’s also apparently a subterranean level for more retail.

More design renderings, and facts about the neighborhood– from the sales brochure–after the jump.

Continue reading

Reminder: On Wednesday, Follow “Chalk Shoes to the High Line”

How do you get to the High Line?

Tomorrow, a group of eighth-grade students from the Lab School will be leading the way… in brightly-colored “chalk shoes.” Brooklyn-based artist Julia Mandle will lead student performers through the streets of the Meatpacking District and Chelsea, in a performance commissioned by Friends of the High Line. As the students shuffle through the neighborhood on their platform-height “chalk shoes,” they will leave a green path on the sidewalks that will lead to the High Line’s future access points.
The weather promises to be gorgeous, so stop by the neighborhood between 12:30 and 1:30 pm, and check out the performance. Or, come to the Leo Kesting Gallery, where the Chalk Shoes will be on display with a video of the performance. The exhibition will be on display from May 15th-21st, during Meatpacking District Design Week.

Update: Photos are here!

Chelsea: 1986.

[West 17th Street at 10th Avenue, looking west.]

In some ways, Chelsea in 1986 in not so different from what it is today. Sure, the neighborhood has changed and evolved in many ways, but it has also remained a diverse community of people, activities, and uses. The preservation and reuse of High Line adds another interesting element to the rich history of Chelsea and when Section 1 of the High Line opens later this year, the neighborhood will evolve yet again. Photos courtesy Department of City Planning.

[9th Avenue, looking north.] Click to see more photos. Continue reading

Chalk Shoes to the High Line

Chalk ShoesFriends of the High Line is set to kick off our spring programming season, and we’ll be starting off with a bang.  We’ve commissioned Brooklyn-based multi-disciplinary artist Julia Mandle to work with a group of 60 students from the Lab School in Chelsea to mount a performance and exhibition this April and May. 

The kids, all 8th-grade art students, will be wearing chalk shoes during the performance, scuffing their feet along the sidewalks of the Meatpacking District and Chelsea.  In the end, they will create a giant urban chalk drawing ending at the future access points of the High Line.  The idea is to mark the future paths that people will take to the High Line, and generate excitement about the park’s opening later this year.  More details after the jump!
[Photo by Ronald Cowie (2008)]
 

Continue reading

David Beckham Bares All for the High Line

Here’s the view today from 17th Street:

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[Click to uh, enlarge.]

Seminary Demo Begins: Beginning of the End for Controversial High Line Neighbor

Demolition has started on Sherrill Hall, the Seminary building that sparked a bitter neighborhood battle in Chelsea last year, when Seminary leaders proposed replacing it with a 17-story building. Scaffolding is up. Signs have been posted about asbestos removal and rat-baiting.  The building will be replaced by a seven-story building, which will help fund the Seminary’s efforts to restore its landmarked Gothic Revival campus

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Seminary’s Renovation Juggles the Old, the New, and the Financial [NY Times]

CB4 to Seminary [Chelsea Now]

Chelsea Seminary Caves Again, Prays Seven Stories Will Fly [Curbed]

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