Posts Tagged ‘Hell Gate Bridge’

Two beautiful bridges of an older New York

June 10, 2013

Most New Yorkers have never crossed either of these beauties.

Hell Gate Bridge, which has connected Queens and Randalls/Wards Island since 1916, is used by railroads only.

Hellgatebridgepostcard

High Bridge, built in 1848 and spanning the Harlem River between Upper Manhattan and the South Bronx, has been closed since 1970.

It’s supposed to reopen to pedestrians in 2014 after a lengthy renovation—fingers crossed!

Highbridgepostcard

In the meantime, there are ways to experience them up close though. To really absorb the loveliness of the Hell Gate, head to Astoria Park, particularly the enormous public pool there. The bridge looms large in the background.

High Bridge is a little trickier. Highbridge Park in the Bronx affords wonderful views, and you can get close to the iron bars that blocks access to the bridge’s pedestrian walkway.

Bridges and barracks in an East River postcard

January 4, 2013

This 1940s technicolor postcard shows the sturdy Triborough (aka the Robert F. Kennedy) Bridge in the foreground and the stunning Hell Gate Bridge, which carries rail traffic, behind it.

It’s only one leg of the Triborough though; the bridge connects the Bronx to Manhattan to Queens—leapfrogging over the joined-via-landfill Randall’s and Ward’s Islands.

Triboroandhellgatepostcard

I’m curious about the barracks-like white and red buildings in the background on what looks like Randall’s and Ward’s Islands. In the 1930s, the island became home to a psychiatric hospital that still operates today; it replaced an older insane asylum.

Are these barracks part of the psych hospital—or used as housing for some other group of people the city didn’t want in Manhattan or the the other boroughs?

New York is a hell of a town

October 22, 2009

More than a few city neighborhoods currently or used to start with “Hell.” Hell’s Kitchen is the most famous—and enduring. (C’mon, does anyone really call it Clinton?)

The nabe’s moniker but it may have first been used in the late 1800s to describe the revolting slums and ferocious gangs in the West 30s and 40s.

Hellgatebridgepostcard

Hell Gate is the name of the once-dangerous tidal strait separating Astoria from Randall’s Island. It’s also a lovely bridge that connects these two land masses across the East River.

Was Hell Gate once the name of the neighborhood on the Manhattan side of the East River too? I’m not sure, but maybe—there’s a Hell Gate Station post office on East 110th Street.

Hellgatepostoffice

And let’s not forget the fantastically named Hell’s Hundred Acres, a gritty term for pre-1970s Soho. The beautiful cast-iron buildings that today house million-dollar lofts were used for decades as warehouses and manufacturing sites. 

Hellshundredacresfire

Safety codes weren’t followed and the buildings allowed to deteriorate, so they often went up in flames—hence the nickname. This photo documents a 1958 fire in a Wooster Street factory that killed six firefighters. Hell’s Hundred Acres indeed.

An airplane view of two East River bridges

April 10, 2009

The Hell Gate and Triborough Bridges—spanking-new and gleaming in this technical postcard—connect Astoria to Ward’s and Randall’s Islands. The islands are two separate entities here, but they’ve long since been united into one island via landfill.

triboroughbridge

It’s a strange view: Manhattan and the Bronx look like pastoral, barely populated villages. Astoria, on the other hand, comes off as an industrial wasteland.

The Triborough Bridge was renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in 2008. I hope they don’t rename the Hell Gate; it’s too colorful a name to lose.

Cooling off Under the Hell Gate Bridge

June 8, 2008

With this blistering heat wave baking the city, don’t you wish you could spend a lazy day at the Astoria Pool? Here it is in 1936, the year the pool opened. If you look closely, you can see that some of the boys are wearing swim trunks, while others are dressed in the two-piece tank suit that was the fashion in the teens and 1920s. 

Photo: New York City Department of Parks and Recreation


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