Artificial refrigeration and refrigerated trucking fueled the growth of the meatpacking business to an industrial and national scale. In the Meatpacking District, this was best exemplified by the Manhattan Refrigeration Company, which began operating in the neighborhood in 1898. The company built a massive complex that eventually included 9 buildings bounded by Horatio, Washington, West, and Gansevoort Streets. The complex was fueled by a central power station that delivered cooled air through underground refrigeration conduits to cold storage warehouses within an 18-block radius. The remnant manhole covers (“M.R.Co.N.Y.”) are still visible on the streets today. The largest Manhattan Refrigeration Building was linked to the elevated train line, a portion of which is now the High Line. The company closed in 1979 and many of its buildings were converted into residential lofts with ground floor retail, powering a new mixed-use era for the neighborhood.
Throughout the neighborhood, many buildings were altered to better perform as cold storage facilities, including being reduced in height for market use. These include former row houses on along Little West 12th Street that were taken from five stories down to two.
Gansevoort Market Historic District: State and National Register of Historic Places Registration Form (2007).
Gansevoort Market Historic District: Designation Report. New York Landmarks Preservation Commission (2003).
The High Line website
Off the Grid. Village Preservation blog.