Archive

Bronx Bridges

First visits to: Hutchinson River Parkway Bridge, New England Thruway Bridge, Boston Road Bridge, Fulton Avenue Bridge, Pelham Bridge, MetroNorth Railway Bridge, City Island Bridge

Route Map – 12.6 miles     More photos on Facebook   (click on any photo to enlarge it)

Today I set out by subway and bicycle to find and photograph the bridges of the Hutchinson River.

I took the 6 Train to its northern terminus at Pelham Bay Park, then rode north following the Old Hutchinson River Parkway to the Hutchinson River Parkway Bridge.

Hutchinson River Parkway Bridge with Hutchinson River Parkway East passing under it along the west bank of the river

Hutchinson River Parkway Bridge (south side) with Hutchinson River Parkway East passing under it along the west bank of the river

Hutchinson River Parkway Bridge north side

Hutchinson River Parkway Bridge north side

As I traveled along the west bank of the river, two words were at the forefront of my mind: missed opportunity. Access to the river is completely cut off by ugly chain-link fences, overgrown weeds and piles of trash. This situation prevails even in front of Co-Op City; even the small Co-Op City Field is run down and lacks river access.  I couldn’t help but think what a beautiful riverbank park this whole area could be, improving the quality of life for thousands of residents of the area.

A couple of miles upriver, the next bridge is the New England Thruway Bridge, blocked again by fences and fields of trash. And a sour, intransigent security guard at the entrance to the MTA yard….

New England Thruway Bridge, south side from Hollers Avenue

New England Thruway Bridge, south side from Hollers Avenue

The dump below the Boston Road Bridge

The dump below the Boston Road Bridge

The trash situation got even worse at the Boston Road Bridge. At least here there was a short distance without a fence. However, the area was full not only of trash and overgrowth, but also broken down trucks, cargo containers and the like. I climbed through it to get the photo below, testing every step to make sure I didn’t fall through something and break my leg. I kept thinking that for all I knew there could be bodies buried in all that mess!

The Boston Road Bridge

The Boston Road Bridge

I got this shot of the bridge from upriver thanks to the security guard at a cement recycling company on Dock Street. More climbing — this time up and over piles of crushed recycled concrete and under heavy machinery (not running, thank goodness) — to get to the top of a pile of rubble at the water’s edge.

The Boston Road Bridge from upriver

The Boston Road Bridge from upriver

Fulton 1The Fulton Avenue Bridge was considerably easier to photograph and was the first bridge of the day that I was actually able to cross. (The drawbridge was stuck in the up position for several months recently. It is back down now, but I saw a few “Detour” signs still in the area.) The photo at left was shot from the cement recycling plant; the photo below from a grassy bank at the edge of the parking lot of the Post Road Plaza shopping center.

The Fulton Avenue Bridge

The Fulton Avenue Bridge

I retraced my path nearly all the way back to my starting point at the subway station. I would have to hurry, but with about an hour of light left I figured I would just have time to get the Pelham Bridge, the railroad bridge and City Island Bridge.

I was surprised at how lovely Pelham Bridge is — not only the bridge itself but the view out over Eastchester Bay. (I got only a couple of photos before my camera shut into “energy saver” mode with an almost-exhausted battery.) This is an area I would love to go back and explore by water next year when the weather is warm again.

Pelham Bridge

Pelham Bridge

Easterchester Bay from Pelham Bridge

Easterchester Bay from Pelham Bridge

The Pelham Bridge was quite busy, and since there is no walkway on the other side anyway, I decided not to try to cross the bridge. So, this photo will have to suffice for the railroad bridge just to the north. A nice little surprise though was that the bridgekeeper happened to step out of the bridge house just as I was walking by and I got to meet and chat with her for a couple of minutes — her name is Kelly.

Railroad (MetroNorth?) bridge just north of Pelham Bridge

Railroad (MetroNorth?) bridge just north of Pelham Bridge

With time running out, I rode as quickly as I could toward City Island, and got this photo with the very last light and the last bit of power left in my battery. Again, I was impressed with the beauty of this area and look forward to going back to explore by water.

City Island bridge

City Island bridge

Throughout my exploration today, I was struck at how different the two banks of the Hutchinson River are: the west bank abused, ignored, dumped on, while the east bank is covered with wild marsh grasses that surely must welcome wildlife and birds. I’m anxious to go back and explor the river by water, to be able to experience the river itself without having to look through layers of urban neglect.

As the sun sank below the horizon, I rode back to the Pelham Bay Park subway station and headed home.

6 Train

P.S. I’m very excited to say that I have ordered my Oru Kayak — an “origami” kayak that folds itself into a 25-pound parcel about the size of a suitcase. This super-portable, lightweight kayak will easily go on a subway or bus, just the way my bike did today. Next time I do this trip, this subway station will once again be my jumping-off point, but with a kayak instead of a bike. I can just see it now — this picture, only with a kayak in the foreground.  For more info about Oru Kayaks, go to http://www.orukayak.com/

First visits to: Throg’s Neck Bridge, Whitestone Bridge, Riker’s Island Bridge, Hell Gate BridgeRobert F. Kennedy (Triborough) Bridge (Randall’s Island to Queens); [name] Bridge (under construction)

Repeat visit to: Queensborough (59th Street) Bridge (Manhattan to Roosevelt Island); Ward’s Island (Randall’s Island) Bridge

Route Map – 14.5 miles     More photos on Facebook       (click on any image for a larger view)

Our expedition: Luis M, Nick B (behind), Rosalba, Larry L, me (RaNae), Violet D, Bob, Carlos N, and Derrick M from our launch site at Fort Totten, with the Throg’s Neck Bridge in the background.

Saturday, September 29 we paddled from Fort Totten to the Long Island City Community Boathouse (LICCB) with 7 members of Sebago Canoe Club and LICCB.  Our friend Larry L, who accompanied us on last week’s circumnavigation of Jamaica Bay, organized the trip for us, including transporting kayaks by car to and from Fort Totten.

The day got a bit of a rocky start when the 7 train shut down due to electrical problems, forcing Rosalba and I to re-route our trip to Long Island City.  Eventually we got there via the E train, where Bob and Violet picked us up.  Nevertheless, we made it to Fort Totten Park in time for our 11:00 launch.

Bridge #1 for the day was the Throg’s Neck Bridge.

The Throg’s Neck Bridge, from Fort Totten Park

After passing under the Throg’s Neck, we paddled past amazing waterfront properties along College Point en route to the Whitestone Bridge.

The Whitestone Bridge

After passing the Whitestone Bridge we had to make a decision, whether to go north past Riker’s Island — where the prison is — or to go south of it in order to pass under the Riker’s Island Bridge. We weren’t sure if the bridge was a restricted area, but decided to go for it and hope for the best.

In order to take that route, we had to paddle past the end of one of the runways at LaGuardia Airport.  It was pretty wild watching planes take off right over our heads.  It felt as if you could hook your paddle over the landing gear and fly away.

As it turns out, we were able to pass under the Riker’s Island Bridge.

The Riker’s Island Bridge

We decided to stop for lunch at Barretto Point Park (the appeal of clean flush toilets was irrestible). Not only did this give us a rest, but it let a bit of time pass so we would not be going through Hell Gate at full ebb tide, which, as NYC kayakers know, can be a pretty wild ride.

A barge was coming down the channel behind us around North Brother Island, so we waited for it to pass in an inlet off the northeast corner of Randall’s Island where we spotted another bridge, this one currently closed for reconstruction.  That’s Nick, one of the trip directors from LICCB and a super-experienced kayaker, who represented LICCB on the trip.  [name of this bridge?]

Once the barge passed, we headed into Hell Gate. We have heard many stories about how treacherous the current can be here, so we were quite glad to find it relatively calm. The bridge is beautiful, and we got a fantastic view of both the Hell Gate Bridge and the Triborough Bridge as we passed.

The Robert F. Kennedy (formerly Triborough) Bridge has three spans. Rosalba passed under the Manhattan-Randall’s Island span on the Manhattan circumnavigation but we had not yet visited this span, which goes from Randall’s Island to Queens.

Coming around the bottom of Randall’s Island, we got this beautiful view of the Ward’s Island (Randall’s Island) Bridge.  (Rosalba visited it on the Manhattan circumnavigation, but it was at night so the pictures didn’t turn out.)

Traveling south from Randall’s Island, we took the western channel past Roosevelt Island, passing under the Manhattan span of the Queensboro Bridge.

Finally, making a hook around the south end of Roosevelt Island, we arrived back at LICCB.  We quickly stowed our gear and took off because the Gowanus Dredgers’ fundraiser was that night.

It was another fantastic day of kayaking. (Did I mention the air was cool and the water was warm?) Thank you Larry for setting this up, to LICCB for their generous assistance and to everyone who joined us.  See you on the water again soon!

First visits to 35 bridges.

Route map           More photos on Facebook  (Click on any image here for a larger view)

Today we canoed with Damian G from the Bronx River Alliance all the way down the Bronx River, starting at, as you can see, the Westchester County line, or in other words, the northern boundary of New York City.

Bronx 2We put in just below this footbridge — built in 1952 as evidenced by the small plaque embedded in the footings. It is barely visible on Google maps – zoom way in, then look halfway between where 239th Street and 240th Street would be if they crossed the river.

Our starting point - a pedestrian bridge built in 1952

Our starting point – a pedestrian bridge built in 1952

Nereid Avenue Bridge (McClean Avenue in Yonkers)

Nereid Avenue Bridge (McClean Avenue in Yonkers)

Within the distance of a couple of city blocks, we crossed under the Nereid Avenue Bridge. I love how high and grand it is — really soaring and impressive!

Next up was the first of a several Bronx River Parkway bridges – this one at about 235th Street and built around 1950.

Bronx River Parkway Bridge near 235th Street

The Bronx River Parkway Bridge near 235th Street (BRP 1 on the list)

We hardly had time to blink before we came to the railroad bridge at 234th Street.

234th Street Railroad Bridge, built 1905, renovated 2004

234th Street Railroad Bridge, built in 1905 and renovated in 2004

The 233rd Street Bridge is immediately after the railroad bridge — another beautiful bridge built in 1904. I have to say, I really love these old stone bridges.

233rd Street Bridge, built 1904

233rd Street Bridge, built 1904

Coming up quickly after that, the second Bronx River Parkway Bridge, this one just below 233rd Street, built in 1952.

The Bronx River Parkway Bridge just below 233rd Street, built in 1952 (BRP 2 on the list)

The Bronx River Parkway Bridge just below 233rd Street, built in 1952 (BRP 2 on the list)

Our third Bronx River Parkway bridge was the northbound onramp coming off of Bronx Blvd. just about 230th Street.

Bronx River Parkway northbound onramp between 230th and 231st Streets (BRP 3 on the list)

Bronx River Parkway northbound onramp between 230th and 231st Streets (BRP 3 on the list)

Asian freshwater clams

Asian freshwater clams

An egret

Following an egret down the river

Once past this cluster of bridges, we entered a long, quiet and very natural-feeling stretch of river. It was hard to believe that we were bordered on the east by Bronx Blvd. and on the west by the Bronx River Parkway. Of course, Woodlawn cemetery borders the Bronx River Parkway to the west, so that could account for some of the peace and quiet. Anyway, along this stretch of river we began to see small freshwater clams which is a favorable indicator of water quality (though unfortunately, they are a foreign invaders from Asia). Then an egret appeared just ahead of us, and we followed it for some distance down the river. Pretty amazing, in the middle of the Bronx!

Below 211th Street we came to another cluster of bridges, beginning with the Old Bronx River Parkway (now Bronx Blvd.) bridge. I love the double arches and the light in the middle of this bridge.

Old Bronx River Parkway (1917-1925) just south of 211th Street. Now Bronx Blvd.

The double spans of the Bronx Blvd. Bridge (old Bronx River Parkway, 1917-1925) just south of 211th Street (Bronx Bl. 1 & 2 on list)

Immediately after that is the Gun Hill Road Bridge.

Gun Hill Road Bridge

Gun Hill Road Bridge

And just a little further on we reached the three spans of the Duncomb Bridge. The first two spans are Bronx Blvd. (Old Bronx River Parkway, built 1918). The third one is the new Bronx River Parkway, built in the 1950s.

The Duncomb Bridges (BB 3 & 4 and BRP 4 on the list)

The Duncomb Bridges (BB 3 & 4 and BRP 4 on the list) [It appears from the map that there is a 4th span which doesn’t show up in this picture. BRP 5?]

The next several bridges lie within the boundaries of the New York Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo. [Confirm that this bridge is Kazimiroff Blvd.- see caption. Also, does this bridge mark the northern boundary of the botanical garden?]

[Damian wrote "We call it Burke Bridge, but it was built by the NYBG before 1921 and is refered to as the North Bridge." However, we passed under this bridge first, so, according to thes map, I think this should be Kazimiroff Blvd, and the next bridge is the North Bridge.]

[Damian wrote “We call it Burke Bridge, but it was built by the NYBG before 1921 and is refered to as the North Bridge.” However, we passed under this bridge first, so, according to thes map, I think this should be Kazimiroff Blvd, and the next bridge is the North Bridge.]

I believe this next bridge is Burke Bridge [confirm-see caption above], formally known as the North Bridge, named that because it is the northern of two bridges within the botanical garden. It carries the northern crossing of Bronx Park Road in the Botanical Garden.

Called Burke Bridge, but it was built by the NYBG before 1921 and is referred to as the North Bridge.[confirm this is NOT Kazimiroff Blvd. Brx Pk 1 on list]

Called Burke Bridge, but it was built by the NYBG before 1921 and is referred to as the North Bridge (Brx Pk 1 on the list). [confirm this is NOT Kazimiroff Blvd.]

The southern roadway of Bronx Park Road in the NY Botanical Garden [confirm].

The southern crossing of Bronx Park Road in the NY Botanical Garden (Brx Pk 2 on the list) [confirm]

The southern crossing of Bronx Park Road in the NY Botanical Garden (Brx Pk 2 on the list) [confirm]

[Next bridge south – need ID]

Portaging under Heston Bridge in NY Botanical Garden [confirm]

Portaging under Heston Bridge in NY Botanical Garden [confirm]

Since we had the boats out of the water anyway, we stopped for lunch just south of the old snuff mill in the NYBG.

Portaging past the old snuff mill in the NY Botanical Garden

Portaging past the old snuff mill in the NY Botanical Garden

[next bridge south, NYBG just below snuff mill – ID]

[needs ID - the bridge just below the snuff mill in NYBG, near where we had lunch]

[needs ID – the bridge just below the snuff mill in NYBG, near where we had lunch]

[Another bridge we crossed under as we headed south through the NYBG – needs ID]

[Bridge in NYBG, needs ID]

[Bridge in NYBG, needs ID]

Our second portage of the day [more info – old mill footings?]:

Portage 2C Portage 2B Portage 2A

And just below it, this bridge [need ID]

Bridge below 2nd portage, still in NYBG? Needs ID

Bridge below 2nd portage, still in NYBG? Needs ID

Now in Bronx Zoo. I think this is the first Jungle World tram crossing.

In the Bronx Zoo - I believe this is the northern crossing of the Jungle World tram [confirm]

In the Bronx Zoo – I believe this is the northern crossing of the Jungle World tram [confirm]

Clearly, this is a Jungle World tram crossing – I believe it’s the southern one.

In the Bronx Zoo, the southern crossing of the Jungle World tram [confirm]

In the Bronx Zoo, the southern crossing of the Jungle World tram [confirm]


Portage 3A Portage 3BOur third portage of the day. Doesn’t look so bad on the approach. But then you look over . . .

Be sure to check out the videos!

[insert links to video]
I think this next bridge is East 180th Street (southern border of the Zoo) [confirm]

East 180th Street Bridge?

East 180th Street Bridge?

This one seems to be the railroad bridge crossing between 178th & 179th Streets [confirm]

Railroad crossing near 178th & 179th Streets?

Railroad crossing near 178th & 179th Streets?

That would make this East Tremont Avenue [confirm]

East Tremont Avenue bridge?

East Tremont Avenue bridge?

Is this the second span of East Tremont Avenue, or the 177th Street onramp to BQE?

southern span of East Tremont Ave or onramp to BQE?

southern span of East Tremont Ave or onramp to BQE?

Definitely two spans of the BQE, but the map shows three. Which two are these?

Two (out of three) spans of the BQE

Two (out of three) spans of the BQE

Third span of the BQE?

Third span of the BQE?

Third span of the BQE?

These two bridges don’t appear to be on the map. They are probably south of the BQE but north of East 174th Street. I think Damian said at least one is a footbridge, and I think I recall him saying that another bridge is coming soon? Confirm ID

Foot bridges - need ID

Foot bridges – need ID

Solo shots of each bridge:

Needs ID

Needs ID – is this the footbridge?

Needs ID

Needs ID – is this East 174th Street?

The cluster of railway bridges north of Westchester Road

MetroNorth railroad bridges - three? Some are still in use, some not?

MetroNorth railroad bridges – three? Some are still in use, some not?

The first two of the three bridges, up close and personal:
Bronx 31 Bronx 32 f

In this photo, the Westchester Avenue bridge appears behind (below) the third of the railroad bridges mentioned above.

The Westchester Avenue bridge

The Westchester Avenue bridge (the one below and behind)


Last, the Bruckner Blvd./Bruckner Expressway bridge
The Bruckner Blvd / Bruckner Expressway Bridge

The Bruckner Blvd / Bruckner Expressway Bridge