Wednesday, April 20, 2016

South Bronx Walk

Last September, I went on a walk along the South Bronx in New York City with the Shorewalkers group. It was a 21-mile walk which started with a walk across the Triborough Bridge to Randall's Island, and ended at Ferry Point Park and the Whitestone Bridge in the Bronx.

Our group met at the corner of Lexington and 125th Street in Manhattan before we made our way towards the Triborough Bridge. From the bridge's pedestrian walkway, I could see three of the bridges that span the southern end of the Harlem River -- Willis Avenue Bridge, Third Avenue Bridge and Park Avenue Bridge. I could also see the iconic History Channel sign, sadly it is not renewing its contract to advertise at that location and the sign has been dismantled.

We walked for a bit at the northern end of Randall's Island, across the East River we could see Riker's Island, and further was our final destination, the Whitestone Bridge. The blue and white box-type structure at the right of the photo is the Vernon C. Bail Floating Prison
The prison boat was constructed in New Orleans to the tune of $161 million and brought to New York shortly after. The price was a steal at the time, and the boat cost much less than building yet another landmass jail. The vessel is named after warden Vernon C. Bain who died in a car accident a few months before the prison opened.

In addition to the holding cells, the prison also contains a law library and a recreational room. It was even used for a short amount of time as a juvenile center, scaring young kids straight inside its dark vessel walls. 

We then made our way back to the Triborough Bridge towards its span leading to the Bronx. Along the way we passed by the bridge approach of the Hell Gate Bridge which runs parallel to the East River section of the Triborough Bridge. Those arches sure look pretty!

A glimpse of the Bronx Kill from the pedestrian walkway of the Triborough. It is a narrow strait delineating the southernmost extent of the Bronx and separating it from Randall's Island. Originally, the Bronx Kill was a sizeable waterway but it was later filled in to expand the parkland on the island.

Looking back at the pedestrian walkway of the Triborough, along the section leading to the Bronx.

And as we neared the Bronx, I saw this sign.

After getting off the Triborough, we made our way towards Bruckner Boulevard. Along the way, we passed by some street art, mostly artworks of the Tag Public Arts Project. Here's one done by Sexer1.

Then we were walking along the Bruckner Boulevard in the Port Morris section of the South Bronx. The symmetry of the beams supporting the Bruckner Expressway above the boulevard was calling for a shot.

Then we were making our way to the waterfront and had a closer look at the off-limits North Brother Island.
North Brother Island was uninhabited until 1885, when the city purchased the island in order to build Riverside Hospital, a hospital for people suffering from contagious diseases such as typhus, tuberculosis, yellow fever, and smallpox. The island's most famous resident was "Typhoid Mary" Mallon, who was incarcerated there for over twenty years until she died in 1938. The hospital closed shortly afterward.
In 1905, over one thousand people lost their lives when the General Slocum steamship caught fire near the island. Many of the staff assisted in the rescue of some of the 321 survivors. It was the worst loss of life in New York's history until the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The hospital was reopened after the Second World War, first to house war veterans and later as a treatment for heroin addicts. In 1963, it closed its doors for good and has been left to decay ever since. The island is officially off-limits to the public, as it is a bird sanctuary for one of the area's largest nesting colonies of Black-Crowned Night Herons.

We then passed by a Jetro Cash & Carry. This particular branch is home to the largest solar panel installation in New York City. The building’s 4,760 solar panels are expected to generate 1.8 million kilowatt hours of clean energy per year.

Going into the Hunts Point neighborhood, we took a little break and enjoyed the views from Barretto Point Park. It has great views of the Manhattan skyline as well as the Hell Gate Bridge and North Brother Island.

Most of the land area in Hunts Point is dominated by industry. Passed by this store selling steel pipes. The different shapes and colors look so fascinating!

Hunts Point is the location of the Hunts Point Cooperative Market, the largest food distribution center of its kind in the world. It houses the New Fulton Fish Market, second in size worldwide only to Tokyo's Tsukiji wholesale seafood market.
Since 1822 the Fulton Fish Market has been operating on South Street in Manhattan. On November 14, 2005, after 180 years of operation in Downtown Manhattan, the Fulton Fish Market moved into the new state of the art facility in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. The 400,000-square-foot facility with modern refrigeration, increased loading space, and executive offices; a  custom-made building the size of the Empire state building in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, to be named the New Fulton Fish Market Cooperative.
New York City built the $86 million state-of-the-art New Fulton Fish Market to retain the region’s valuable wholesale seafood industry. The Fulton Fish Market handles about one-third of the New York’s total seafood demand.  The New Fulton Fish Market, a wholesale seafood marketplace in one of the most modern indoor facility of it kind. The new market opened for business On November 14, 2005. The seafood wholesalers at the New Fulton Fish Market, many owned by the same family for several generations, find that the enhanced climate controlled market and the new, modern facility gives them the competitive advantage in freshness.

We then checked out Hunts Point Landing,a waterfront amenity that will provide the neighborhood with natural habitats for animals and native plants and safe waterfront access with sustainable solutions for water treatment. 
It is one of the first additions to the planned South Bronx Greenway that will inject some much needed open space into a neighborhood home to some of the city’s less glamorous uses. Eventually Hunts Point landing will link up with a series of other parks in the area via bike and walking paths.

The 1.5-acre Hunts Point Landing offers a fishing pier, kayak launch, and tidal pools. While we were there, a fisherman proudly showed me his catch!

We walked further along skirting the Hunts Point Market, the whole complex was enclosed in this concrete fence which was painted in different pastel colors.

Along the way we came across some street art.

Finally we reached the Hunts Point Riverside Park, outside the park is this artistic wall separating, yet joining, the nonprofit Rocking the Boat, and the park.

Hunts Point Riverside Park is the first new riverside park to be built in the area in over sixty years, and is the first of a planned series of parks to be linked by a bike route to create the South Bronx Greenway.
Perhaps the most unsung patch of heaven in New York City is a tiny sliver of riverfront parkland tucked between a metal-recycling yard and a giant wholesale produce market, on the far side of a six-lane highway and a pair of active freight train tracks. Hunts Point Riverside Park, a 1.4-acre speck in the South Bronx, opened a few years ago on what had been a filthy, weedy street end.

Coming out from the park, along Edgewater Road are murals adorning the fence of the scrap yards in the area.
The murals are the second batch to enliven Hunts Point’s industrial streets. They are part of a larger project devised by Carey Clark, the director of arts education at The Point, called “Village of Murals.” The idea is to brighten the route from residential Hunts Point to the South Bronx Greenway and Barretto Point Park. - See more at:
The murals are the second batch to enliven Hunts Point’s industrial streets. They are part of a larger project devised by Carey Clark, the director of arts education at The Point, called “Village of Murals.” The idea is to brighten the route from residential Hunts Point to the South Bronx Greenway and Barretto Point Park. - See more at:
The murals are the second batch to enliven Hunts Point’s industrial streets. They are part of a larger project devised by Carey Clark, the director of arts education at The Point, called “Village of Murals.” The idea is to brighten the route from residential Hunts Point to the South Bronx Greenway and Barretto Point Park. - See more at:
The murals are the second batch to enliven Hunts Point’s industrial streets. They are part of a larger project devised by Carey Clark, the director of arts education at The Point, called “Village of Murals.” The idea is to brighten the route from residential Hunts Point to the South Bronx Greenway and Barretto Point Park.

One of the industrial plants we passed by along Edgewater Road.

We then crossed the Bronx River via Bruckner Boulevard and have this view of people enjoying a canoe ride on the river.

Crossing the river also lead us to the next park, Soundview Park. 
Called the “Gateway to the Bronx River,” Soundview Park is situated where the Bronx River opens into the East River. When the City of New York acquired the original 93 acres of land for this park in 1937, the entire area was composed of marshland.

For a good chunk of its history, Soundview Park was a partially developed park built on a landfill. The southern third was once open water, while the remaining 2/3 of the park was tidal marsh, complete with three streams. Landfill operations began in the 1920s and lasted forty years. The landfill increased the height of the shoreline up to 30 feet above the marsh elevation, decreasing public access to the water. Happily, the park is now revered for its sports fields, fishing, and gorgeous views across Hunts Point to Manhattan.

At a certain point in Soundview Park, you could see the control tower of the La Guardia airport.

At the southern end of Soundview Park is Harding Park.
In the early 1920s Thomas Higgs, who owned about 100 acres (0.40 km2) of beachfront property, began leasing tents to visitors and the area became a summer bungalow colony named for President Harding. After World War II these became permanent year-round residences due to a housing shortage, eventually sheltering over 250 families.
Harding Park survived the attempt of Robert Moses to tear down what he called the "Soundview Slums" but became City property in 1979. Three years later, in 1982, Harding Park Homeowners Association, the first cooperatively owned low and moderate-income community in the city was formed.
The neighborhood has awesome views of Manhattan.

At the southern tip of the neighborhood is Clason Point Park. The park has a great view of the Whitestone Bridge, the final destination of our walk that day.

We rounded out that peninsula where the East River meets the Westchester Creek. Going further inland leads us to Pugsley Creek and the wetlands and marshes of Pugsley Creek Park.

After going round the long creek, we reached Castle Hill Park on the other side of the creek.
Castle Hill Park lies at the tip of Castle Hill Neck, a peninsula named by English settlers for a fortified Indian village located on a hill overlooking the East River. This village, inhabited by Siwanoy Indians, was known as Snakapins and was first discovered by the explorer Adriaen Block during his expedition to North America in the early 1600s. Located between Westchester Creek to the east and Pugsley Creek to west, Castle Hill Neck was first settled in 1685 by John Cromwell, a cousin of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell.

Across Westchester Creek from Castle Hill Park is Ferry Point Park, our final destination. But we have to skirt the creek and cross the Cross Bronx Expressway before we can reach it. This was my view looking up the expressway.

And nearing Ferry Point Park, I had this view.
If you’re looking for spectacular views, take a stroll in this expansive Bronx park. With one and a half miles of prime waterfront, Ferry Point Park offers unparalleled views of the East River and Long Island Sound, the Manhattan skyline, and of the Whitestone and Throgs Neck Bridges. If a great outlook isn’t enough, how about some sports? Ferry Point Park offers visitors playing fields for soccer and football, basketball courts, and will soon offer access to a recently completed, world-class public golf course.

Ferry Point Park is a huge park, nearly half the size of Central Park. Beside its playing fields lies the bridge approach to the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge. We ended our walk at the tip of the park with this view underneath the bridge.
The Bronx–Whitestone Bridge (colloquially referred to as the Whitestone Bridge or simply the Whitestone) is a suspension bridge in New York City that crosses the East River and connects the boroughs of Queens on Long Island, and the Bronx on the United States mainland via Interstate 678. The bridge was designed by Othmar Ammann and opened to traffic with four lanes on April 29, 1939.

Here's a map of where we walked that day, the circles are the parks we visited.

That was a great walk, we visited so many parks and I got to see what the South Bronx look like. A very interesting and informative walk for me. I hope you've learned something, too!

For the rest of my photos, here's the album on Flickr: South Bronx Walk