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Vintage photos uncover the industrial origins of Meatpacking District locales

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Take a look at the area before it was transformed into a high-end tourist destination

For the past few decades, the Meatpacking District has been undergoing a dramatic change, moving away from its mostly gritty past to becoming a bastion for high-end restaurants and boutiques, pricey housing, and—of course—a little thing called the High Line.

And in the last 10 years, the neighborhood has transformed at such a rapid clip that it’s hard to remember a time when the area was anything but fancy stores and restaurants. The Apple store opened in 2007; the first portion of the High Line and the Standard Hotel followed in 2009, cementing the area’s status as a tourist destination. And in the years since, neighborhood has welcomed many other additions most notable among them, the reopened Gansevoort Street Market in 2014, and the Renzo Piano-designed Whitney Museum in the summer of 2015.

In the midst of all the development hullabaloo, preservation groups like the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation have worked to ensure that the Meatpacking District isn’t completely stripped of its historic character. For example, a concerted effort on part of the group helped establish the Gansevoort Market Historic District in 2003.

But to see what the area looked like back in the day, there’s new set of historic images on the GVSHP’s archives that offers a transportive glimpse to the neighborhood’s industrial past. The images below capture five properties before they became the iconic establishments they are today.

This photo taken around 1995 looks at 440 West 14th Street, which is now home to designer Diane Von Furstenberg’s New York City headquarters.

↑ This photo, taken around 2000, shows a section of the abandoned elevated railway that would eventually become a part of the High Line.

↑ This building at 848 Washington Street was once home to one of the neighborhood’s namesake meatpacking plants; now, the site is home to the Standard High Line hotel. This was also taken around the year 2000.

↑ Another photo from around 2000, this shows the Gansevoort Pumphouse at the intersection of Gansevoort Street and Washington Street. This location is now home to Renzo Piano’s new Whitney Museum.

↑ This photo was taken sometime in the 1980s and shows the meat shop at the corner of Ninth Avenue and West 14th Street. That, as you may have already guessed, is now home to the Apple Store.

To look at more historic images of the Meatpacking District, head over to the GVSHP’s image archives. The neighborhood is now primed for even more change as the city’s Landmarks Preservation approved a proposal this summer to bring offices and retail to the south side of Gansevoort Street.