Two of my favorite ruins in Manhattan can be found partially submerged in the Hudson River, overshadowed by the nearby West Side Highway and row of ugly, bland Trump apartment high rises.
They’re certainly not secrets to anyone who’s ever walked through Riverside Park, but I recently scouted them as backdrops for a film, and was reminded just how great they are.
The first is the 69th Street Transfer Bridge, a decaying, rust-covered behemoth:
It’s the sort of thing you expect to simply disappear one day, razed by the city for being unsafe, or developers for being a blight in the view of the otherwise boring Jersey coast.
Once belonging to the West Side Line of the NY Central Railroad (part of whose network has become the insanely successful High Line Park), the bridge was built in 1911 and allowed the transfer of train cars from rail to boat, to be floated across the river to the Weehawken, NJ train yards. As slow as you might expect this process to have been, transfer bridges like this were actually faster than modern container cranes.
Despite falling into disuse during the 1970′s, the 69th Street Transfer Bridge incredibly managed to survive on its own until 2003, when it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
It’s really amazing how much of it is still intact:
I doubt it’ll ever be restored to level of Gantry State Park, but there’s a beauty in its decay. I’d really like to visit the control tower some day:
The ladder up is still in place:
The pulley system that once raised entire freight cars:
Two more docks sit partially sunken nearby:
It blows my mind that this was successfully landmarked. If history’s any indicator, this would’ve been long destroyed.
A third dock sits farther out:
Any beach you ever visit along Manhattan’s coast is invariably covered in rubber tires. I have no idea why this is.
Still supporting quite a lot of weight after all these years:
I started to walk out, then decided I didn’t want to spend the rest of my scouting day soaked and turned back:
My second favorite ruin is just south of the Transfer Bridge: the beautiful Pier D structure.
Built in the 1880′s, Pier D was one of many waterfront structures built to offload cargo from ships and barges into the NY Central Railroad’s 60th Street Yard.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Pier D was part of the inspiration for Doctor Octopus’ lair in Spider-man 2:
Much of the cargo entering the 60th Street yard was foodstuffs, including grain, milk, and vegetables, and was known as the “Lifeline of the City.” An entrance is still visible on the northern side:
Sadly, Penn Central Railroad (NY Central’s successor) went bankrupt in 1971 and many of its properties were abandoned. Pier D caught fire later that year in June and was largely destroyed, though the steel structure has managed to stay up since.
A portion of the pier abutting land was unfortunately removed during the development of Riverside Park, but thankfully, most was left. I love the angular labyrinth of steel girders, which reminds me of a multi-tiered spider’s web:
A closer look:
Very cool to know that neither structure is going anywhere until the elements finally have their way.
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