Queensboro Bridge

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: Queensboro Bridge (aka 59th Street Bridge), Roosevelt Island Bridge

Route map            More Photos       (click on any image in this post for a larger view)

Erika M and Rosalba under the Queensboro Bridge, with the Roosevelt Island Bridge in the background. This photo will appear (upside down*) in The Big & Awsome Bridges of Portland & Vancouver, the first-ever kid’s book about this historic collection of bridges, written to bring engineering science to life in elementary classrooms.

Click here to learn more about the Big & Awesome Bridges project.

RaNae & Juan Carlos all lined up and ready to cross the East River with the rest of the LICCB group. The Queensboro Bridge and Roosevelt Island Bridges are in the background.

Erika and Rosalba approaching the Roosevelt Island Bridge.

Rosalba and I joined Long Island City Community Boats this morning on their paddle from Anable Basin to Hallet’s Cove, where they offer community-sponsored free kayaking. Along the way we logged two new bridges – the Queensboro Bridge and the Roosevelt Island Bridge. We went in two boats this time, accompanied by Erika (aka Elika) M in Rosalba’s boat and Juan Carlos P in my boat. This way we were able to take photos of each other at the bridges. And we made two new friends who hopefully will accompany us on future adventures!

Before heading home on the subway around 1:00 we stopped for a visit at Socrates Sculpture Park and its Greenmarket. It is now 4:30 p.m. and pouring. I hope you LICCB folks headed home before the rain!


*Why will the picture appear upside down?

There are three bridges in Portland built by the famous New York bridge engineer Gustav Lindenthal. Lindenthal was the NYC Commissioner of Bridges in the early 1900s. He came to Portland in the mid-1920s to design two bridges across the Willamette River in Portland and finish a third. The Ross Island Bridge designed by Lindenthal looks almost exactly like the Queensboro bridge turned upside down. In Sharon’s book, the photo of the Queensboro bridge sits right next to a drawing of the Ross Island bridge and you can see the similarity.