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
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.
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….
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/