Bridges and barracks in an East River postcard

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.


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?

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7 Responses to “Bridges and barracks in an East River postcard”

  1. mrsyeltzin Says:

    I could be way off on this, but I thought those buildings were built to house workers who built the Hell Gate Bridge.

  2. Lady G. Says:

    I read your other link on Randall Island. It’s possible they were one of those other institutions mentioned. Definitely health related because of the red and white (Red Cross) colors.

  3. MJ Says:

    Could also be Coast Guard…which were typically white buildings with red roofs.

  4. Zie Says:

    There used to be a Navy Hospital situated at that tip of Ward’s Island. I’m not sure how long it stood, but here are some photos:

    From the northeast side …

    From above, showing the Hell Gate Bridge …

    This is a photo of Ward’s Island from the north, showing the Hell Gate Bridge and the beginnings of the Triboro Bridge. It’s from 1935 and it’s hard to tell whether the Navy Hospital is still standing …

    Obviously the postcard isn’t a photo so it’s hard to really match up the buildings, but the coloring and overall design is a plausible match and the location seems right.

  5. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks so much for these photos. I think this might be the answer. The Coast Guard connection is also intriguing.

  6. MJ Says:

    OK yep definitely the Naval Hospital. That aerial photo is so beautiful.

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