The High Line


The High Line was Constructed from 1929-1934 and ran from 35th Street down to St. John's Park Terminal, which covered four riverfront blocks between Clarkson and Spring Streets. The steel and concrete structure of The High Line was designed to go through the center of blocks, rather than over the avenue, to avoid creating the negative conditions associated with elevated subways. It connected directly to factories and warehouses, allowing trains to roll right inside the buildings. Milk, meat, produce, and raw and manufactured goods could come and go without causing any street-level traffic.

In the 1950s, the rise of interstate trucking led to a decline of rail traffic on the High Line. Parts of it were torn down in the 1960s, and trains stopped running on it in 1980, when the northern end of the structure and its easement were rerouted to accommodate construction of the Jacob Javits Convention Center. At the southern end, a five-block section of the Line was torn down in 1991, bringing the High Line's southern terminus to Gansevoort Street. Since then the remaining structure has stood as a little known overgrown no-man's land above the streets of New York's lower west side neighborhoods.

An organization known as Friends of the High Line believes the historic High Line rail structure offers New Yorkers the opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind recreational amenity: a grand, public promenade that can be enjoyed by all residents and visitors in New York City. Efforts are currently underway to turn The High Line into a park.

Umour Ritual Specialists Loudmouth Bill and Kol ventured out to the area to investigate and document The High Line in it's current transitory state, hoping to gain access and document the transition. Sadly, access was denied.

The Expedition To The High Line
The expedition began with the requisite watering hole stop at Pier 41, one of the last remaining "dive bars" in New York. Located near The Port Authority Bus Terminal, Pier 41 is a mecca for drifters, hookers and local low-lifes looking for cheap drinks and a cheap thrill. Pool tables, Dart boards and a bikini clad bar maid top the bill.
Then the adventurous Ritual Specialists proceeded south on Tenth Avenue down to 34th street, seeking the rumored High Line Ramp that would deliver them to the famed industrial rail track turned hanging garden of Umour. Along the way there was much evidence of continued gentrification of the once sleazy Hells Kitchen area.
Across the street from the south end of The Jacob Javitz Convention Center was the ramp leading up to The High Line. The area below the ramp was a parking facility. Access would have been quite easy were it not for the presence of an NYPD mobile command center and several posted officers in a patrol cruiser.
Venturing further south our intrepid explorers located a street level access stairway to The High Line at 30th street between Tenth and Eleventh avenues, but again were unable to proceed as the stair was boarded up and pad locked. The location was pleasingly desolate with several signs posted warding off the would-be trespassers.
Below this section of The High Line, the Ritual Specialists proceeded with an Umour Ritual performance utilizing the unique acoustic properties of the area beneath the steel and concrete structure. The sounds of small portable electronic musical instruments were amplified by, and echoed throughout this dark space.
Still hopeful of finding an access point to The High Line the Ritual Specialists continued south along Tenth Avenue into Chelsea. With each block the neighborhood became more gentrified. Evidence of the work being done on the structure could clearly be seen from the street, including potra-sans for the workers.
After reaching 23rd street the decision was made to abandon all hopes of accessing The High Line. The Umour Ritual Specialists returned to 30th Street where conditions were optimal for performance, and there chose a location for a second ritual performance, this time shooting video which can be seen here.