Wednesday, November 28, 2007

day +99

This afternoon after my appointment with Dr. Roberts, I went to the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, from which you can enter at E. 120th Street and Paladine Avenue, in the hope of photographing the Willis Avenue Bridge.

I had thought that the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway didn't go up any further past the Triborough Lift Bridge, which connects Manhattan and Randall's Island. But a couple days ago as I was in a taxi heading home on the FDR Drive, I passed by this very spot along the Greenway and saw a man walking along the trail past what I thought was the terminus of the Greenway. I turned in my seat and through the rear window, I watched him continue to walk along the pathway under the Triborough Lift Bridge and a bit beyond before he was no longer in site. It was this incidence that rose my curiosity and hope that I could find a spot on the Greenway that would provide me with a better vantage point from where I could photograph the length of the Willis Avenue Bridge. I turned to Google Earth, one of my favorite online resources that I use to find out access routes to and good vantage points of the Harlem River bridges, for help. I also examined the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway Map for further details.

Sure enough, the Greenway does continue past the Triborough Lift Bridge right up to the Willis Avenue Bridge itself but the area between these two points along the pathway is cluttered with with plywood and other materials because it's a construction site. Anyone familiar with the FDR Drive will know it as the area around E. 126th Street where there's a huge mountain of salt used to clear the winter roads of snow. The area appears to be open to the public. I didn't see any sign that forbid pedestrian access to the area nor did the construction workers on site say anything to me. And I wasn't alone. I saw a few people walk through or linger in the area while I was there. I also noticed a couple of homeless people in this area as well which suggested to me that's is a common place where they congregate and perhaps even live.

This area on the Greenway seems to be the best, most accessible spot from where someone can view the entire Willis Avenue Bridge from land (at least from the Manhattan side). I talked to one of the construction workers there, who told me that he thinks the path goes up as far as the Third Avenue Bridge, which one can see in the distance easily from this site. More importantly, however, was his admission that in a few weeks (he couldn't give a specific time) access to this area will be closed off due to the start of a new construction project there. He pointed to the barricades on the ground as evidence that they plan to erect them soon to seal off the area.

The new construction project that he referred to is the work surrounding the replacement of the 106 year old Willis Avenue Bridge itself. Beginning at the end of this year, the Department of Transportation will begin the a massive renovation project of the area, which will culminate in the bridge's replacement in 5 years. A 3/31/07 NYT article titled, A Bridge No Longer So Humble, at $600 Million, looks at the details of this upcoming project. And about two weeks ago on my blog, I asked the question following an essay that I had read in The New Yorker if the city really is trying to sell this bridge. After doing a bit a research, it turns out that indeed the city placed it on the auction block.

So, now that I'm aware that I may not have access to this spot beside the Willis Avenue Bridge for very long, I've decided that the Willis Avenue Bridge will be my prime subject for at least right now. This obsolete but vital artery between Manhattan and the Bronx won't be around too much longer, so I'm going to give it the most attention for at least the immediate future.

Here are just a few of the shots I took today.


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