Sunday, November 23, 2008

Washington Heights, 181st Street , approach to Washington Bridge

Mary Sargent © 2008 …………………………………….. click to enlarge

In this shot, I have crossed Amsterdam Avenue and I'm leaning on the fence looking down into Highbridge Park and an exit from the Manhattan Expressway or maybe the Alexander Hamilton Bridge. To the left is 181st Street east of Amsterdam. I don't know if it's still considered to be 181st Street or whether it's part of the bridge at this point.

Mary Sargent © 2008 ………click to enlarge

The teeny little black sign on the top of the tunnel says Highbridge Park. You'll just have to believe me.

Mary Sargent © 2008 …………………………………….. click to enlarge

This seems to be the end of the road. However, can you see the sidewalk picking up to go across the bridge? You can walk across the bridge and the bridge is not out of Manhattan yet. This raises a question. Am I required to find that sidewalk and walk over the bridge until I get to the river?

Now go back to the middle photo. It looked like you could access the sidewalk by descending into the park and going across and back up, but you know what? I'm not leaving the safety of the New York streets to go through any dark tunnels plunked down in the middle of nature, picturesque though it may be. I'm the kind of person who if I were alone in a house and a voice said don't go into the basement, I definitely would not go into the basement. Say what you will.

Now I want to talk about the bridge. The Washington Bridge was built in the 1880s, as Washington Heights had grown significantly in the 1870s and the bridge was needed to take pedestrian and carriage traffic to and from the Bronx. In addition to broad sidewalks, it had a grassy strip down the middle! It was quite the thing. People made special trips to visit it. Now, tell the truth. How many of you New Yorkers knew about this bridge? If you did, it's probably because you drive.

Now, of course, rather than the main bridge to the Bronx, it has become merely an alternative to the very busy Alexander Hamilton Bridge, which opened in 1963 and is just south of the Washington Bridge.

Jag9889 on Flickr has a series of wonderful photographs of the Washington Bridge from all angles.

See map.


Anonymous said...

Mary- be careful in that area, especially alone. Through that tunnel you shot is an area populated by crackheads. According to one police officer I spoke to, there's a methadone clinic across the street, and after that high wears off, the crackheads head across the street an into the park for their next score.

I've run into some hollow-eyed characters will big dogs prowling back there, and if I wasn't 6-4 and carrying construction tools, it could have been more dangerous.

Definitely be careful around there.

Bill said...

Parts of Manhattan have a surprisingly rural appearance.

mary said...

Thanks for the warning, anon. I was definitely not inclined to go down there and I shot the tunnel from the street.

B.Lewin said...

Hmm, I'm really curious about this Highbridge Park. I want to go there. I'll bring mace, um, pepper spray.