Visitors to the High Line who wander to the southern end at Gansevoort Street may have noticed an imposing blank wall opposite the elevated park. That expanse of nothingness may soon be replaced by a vision from the past: An old train rolling north along the rails. TF Cornerstone, the crew in charge of the full-block West Coast Apartments at Gansevoort and Washington, is proposing a bas-relief sculpture to go where the trains used to roll. The wall that's there now, tiled in dull gray brick, covers the path of the old tracks that extended south through the West Village all the way to Spring Street back when it was the life line of New York, not the High Line of New York.
This proposal is but one part of a retail upgrade that TF Cornerstone is undertaking at the edge of the Meatpacking District. This summer a glass-enclosed Intermix will open at 812 Washington Street, just below the rails. The building was originally the Manhattan Refrigerating Company and trains ran right through it, offloading inside. It covers one full block, taking up the southwest corner of the Gansevoort Market Historic District, so the sculpture needs an OK from the Landmarks Preservation Commission. If approved today, the piece will be in good company. The High Line recently unveiled its latest site-specific work, a faux billboard, on the rooftop up above, and the new Whitney Museum is getting ready to break ground just across Gansevoort.
The piece of public art that Cornerstone has in mind is based on a picture of a train up on the High Line shot by photographer Jim Shaughnessy. This particular image is but one of the 60,000 photos taken by the 78-year-old Shaughnessy since the 1940s and stashed away in shoe boxes for way too long. A batch of his best was recently published to great acclaim as The Call of Trains. Shaughnessy's old engine would be newly conceived via digital enhancement on vinyl with copper, aluminum and stainless steel set on panels measuring 30 feet wide, and, to give it a 3-D effect, extending out from the wall nine inches. For folks up on the rails it would look like a train emerging from the darkness and barreling down upon the park, a reminder of what the neighborhood used to be.
· Some Cool High Line History Unearthed During MePa Renovation [Curbed]
· Intermix Inches into Scoop Territory with New MePa Store [Racked]