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Meatpackers, Your Steak Dinner & the High Line

Peter Lugar at J.T. Jobaggy on Washington Street

Peter Lugar truck at J.T. Jobaggy on Washington Street

When I was a kid, back in the days when freight trains ran along the High Line, we used to trek to Brooklyn for very special occasions: a big steak at Peter Lugar’s. Until this morning, when I happened to pass by a van loading up sides of beef at the J. T. Jobaggy meatpacking plant, it never occurred to me that my special dinner had traveled down the old New York Central line on a viaduct now packed with more than 100,000 plants and even more humans.

The old dance continues, but today it all happens by truck. The Meatpacking District surely ain’t what it used to be — witness the fashionable woman strolling past the Peter Lugar van below — but the butchers are still here, continuing the work that’s been ongoing on Washington Street for more than a century. The last remnant of the meatpacking business still in place on the High Line is the series of meat hooks hanging from a conveyer belt below the Standard Hotel. That building — once the warehouse of the Manhattan Hotel Supply company, whose motto was “Fine Meats for 4 Generations” (italics included) — will surely be torn down soon and replaced with something new, but for now it stands as a fine reminder of the business that gave this neighborhood its name.

Meat hooks on the High Line in the abandoned facility at 547 W. 13th Street

Meat hooks on the High Line in the abandoned facility at 547 W. 13th Street

In the meantime: the steaks those guys are loading will most likely be someone’s awesome dinner tonight. Bon appetit!

Meapackers load a few sides of beef

Meapackers load a few sides of beef into Peter Lugar van

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