Mystery monuments on the “East River Drive”

It towers above the FDR Drive at about 93rd Street: a rectangular monolith facing the parkway.

A forgotten Yorkville war memorial or monument to a long-gone neighborhood leader? I went to the end of East 93rd Street on the grounds of the Stanley M. Isaacs Houses to take a look.

Composed of stone blocks and set inside a small garden, the monument reads, “East River Drive” and then “Triborough Bridge Approach.”

The East River Drive part makes sense; this was the original name of the FDR Drive, built in the 1930s to run along the length of Manhattan’s East Side.

The “Triborough Bridge Approach” is more of a question mark. The bridge, opened in 1936 under the auspices of legendary Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, connects Manhattan to Randalls Island via 125th Street.

So why a sign announcing the approach to the bridge at 93rd Street?

It might be because the Triborough (now called the RFK Bridge), was supposed to be built at 103rd Street and be a direct conduit to Queens, according to NYCRoads.

“Moses originally proposed that the Manhattan arm of the Triborough Bridge be constructed at East 103rd Street so as to avoid the mental institutions on Randall’s Island,” the site explains. “However, the East 125th Street location that was previously procured for the Triborough Bridge was used instead.”

Why? Because of William Randolph Hearst, according to Robert Caro’s The Power Broker, a biography of Moses.

“William Randolph Hearst had owned deteriorating real estate there [at 103rd Street] and he had wanted the city to buy it,” Mr. Caro wrote. Not willing to tangle with Hearst or his newspaper empire, Moses “left the terminus at 125th Street.”

The FDR Drive monuments, then, may have been built with 103rd Street in mind.

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7 Responses to “Mystery monuments on the “East River Drive””

  1. Penelope Bianchi Says:

    So interesting! No one wanted to tangle with William Randolph Hearst.

  2. Rose X Says:

    Thank You🌹

    On Mon, Jul 29, 2019, 1:33 AM Ephemeral New York wrote:

    > ephemeralnewyork posted: “It towers above the FDR Drive at about 93rd > Street: a rectangular monolith facing the parkway. A forgotten Yorkville > war memorial or monument to a long-gone neighborhood leader? I went to the > end of East 93rd Street on the grounds of the Stanley M. Isa” >

  3. DIRNDL SKIRT Says:

    Good detective work!

  4. Tom B Says:

    I’m amazed this monument is not full of graffiti or tagged by young discriminated youtts. The Mayor’s policies work.

  5. petey Says:

    very interesting!

  6. Robert Swartz Says:

    I think Hearst’s property was at 125th Street, not 103rd. At least that’s what I remember from The Power Broker.

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