It wasn’t fill from digging the subways or skyscrapers—it was actually transported here all the way from England in the 1940s.
“During World War II, the Luftwaffe savagely bombed the city of Bristol, England, a major port for American supply ships,” wrote Michael Pollack in his FYI column in The New York Times in June 2009.
“After the supplies were unloaded, the American ships had no British goods to replace them on the return trip, and needed ballast for stability. So they loaded up rubble from Bristol’s bombed-out buildings.”
“Back in New York, the ships dumped the ballast from 23rd to 34th Street as landfill for what would become the East River Drive, now Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive.”
Though you won’t find it on any city road maps, the slight curve of the East River between these blocks is known as Bristol Basin (above).