As I See It – From the Verrazano to the George Washington Bridge

This is your narrative “tour guide” as you sail north from the Verrazano Narrows Bridge to the George Washington Bridge.

Note 1 – This is page is active; it will be continuously updated.

As you sail north, from the Lower Bay through The Narrows, Fort Hamilton (Brooklyn) is on your right while Fort Wadsworth (Staten Island) is on your left.  As you pass under the bridge, through The Narrows, straight ahead is Anchorage Channel, an extension of Ambrose ChannelThe Verrazano Narrows bridge connects the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn.  It is named for Giovanni da Verrazano, the first known European navigator to enter New York Harbor and the Hudson River, and for the body of water it spans, The Narrows.  It has a center span of 4,260 feet  and was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time of its completion in 1964. Since 1976 it is the starting point for the New York City Marathon.

Looking off to the distance on your left, you will see the St. George Ferry Terminal for the Staten Island Ferry.   The land at the “horizon” is Bayonne, New Jersey.  In the foreground you will see the Robbins Reef Lighthouse (sparkplug style), which is just off Constable Hook (Bayonne) and at the entrance to the Kill Van Kull, a tidal strait between Staten Island, New York and Bayonne, New Jersey. Approximately 3 miles long and 1,000 feet wide, it connects Newark Bay with Upper New York Bay.The Robbins Reef Light marks the eastern end of the Kill.   Just north is the Military Ocean Terminal in Bayonne, which served the US Navy in World War II, including the production of 400 Elco PT boats, including the PT 109, on which the future President John F. Kennedy served in World War II.  After the  military closure of the base, it was renamed The Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor.  Amongst its uses today, it serves as the Cape Liberty (Cruise) Ship Port  and it is also the home of Bayonne Dry Dock, New York Harbor’s largest dry dock facility. The Peninsula is also home to the Tear of Grief Memorial, a 10-story-high sculpture by Zurab Tsereteli that was given to the United States as an official gift of the Russian government as a memorial to the victims of the September 11 attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.  As you look north and west, you see the unmistakable Statue Of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World [a Liberté éclairant le monde]) (Statue of Liberty Live Stream via Earth Cam).

Shift back to the eastern shore and as you travel north, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn (New York) is on the rightmost coast.  The pier you see is the American Veterans Memorial Pier (fka., the 69th Street Pier), which is just off of Owl’s Head Park.  The large facility north of the pier is the Owls Head Water Pollution Control Plant, which went into service in 1952.  Just next to the Water Pollution Control Plant is the  Bay Ridge Rail Yard (also known as the 65th Street Rail Yard) in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Freight cars are moved by car float from New Jersey railroad terminals to the Bay Ridge terminal.  Next to the rail yard is the Brooklyn Army Terminal, followed by the 58th Street Pier.  As you hug Brooklyn, you are sailing in the Bay Ridge Channel, which leads you to Gowanus Bay and to the Red Hook Channel.  Just off  Gowanus Bay, north of the Brooklyn Army Terminal is the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (between 31st and 39th Streets).  The Red Hook Channel leads you around Red Hook, Brooklyn, and to either Buttermilk Channel (between Governors Island to the west and Red Hook to the east) or back to Anchorage Channel.  As you hug Brooklyn, you’ll find the Atlantic Basin and the Brooklyn Cruise Ship Terminal.  Keep traveling through Buttermilk Channel and you’ll see Fort Jay, on the northeast side of Governors Island.  The whitestone, octagonal structure is an air vent for the Brooklyn-Battery tunnel.   If you head west from the Red Hook Channel, away from Red Hook, you will be south of Governors Island and reconnecting back to Anchorage Channel.  As you hug Governors Island and head north, on the northwest side, you will see Castle Williams.

Heading back toward the Statue of Liberty, the land behind the Statue is Liberty State Park, New Jersey’s largest urban park, located in Jersey City, New Jersey.  Just north of the Statue is Ellis Island, (Ellis Island Earth Cam) the famed point of immigration arrivals of 12 million steamship passengers, from 1892-1954.  North of Ellis Island, the brick structure is the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal, built in what was known as Communipaw Cove.  Just north of the railroad terminal is Morris Canal, which once reached through New Jersey to Phillipsburg, New Jersey, on the Delaware River (which separates New Jersey and Pennsylvania).  On the northern edge of Morris Canal, the 42 floor (781 foot)  building is Goldman Sachs Tower, 30 Hudson Street, the tallest building in New Jersey.  The Colgate clock, 50 feet in diameter, has been moved about the Jersey City coast, but dates back to 1924, which succeeded an earlier clock.  The current location, at Exchange Place, is 400 meters south of the former Jersey City headquarters of Colgate-Palmolive.

Swing back to the east side of the Hudson River, and just off the northeast tip of Governors Island, you head into the East River, and you will then see Brooklyn Heights, and in the foreground, Brooklyn Bridge Park (under construction, in stages), which leads up to the Brooklyn Bridge.  Beyond the Brooklyn Bridge is the Manhattan Bridge and then the Williamsburg Bridge.  Where the East River and Hudson River “merge,” the cross-currents are referred to as “the Spider,” especially in the first two hours of the East River flood, while the Hudson River is still ebbing (and vice versa in the first 1.5 hours of East River ebb and Hudson River flood).

The tip of Manhattan is The Battery.  Here you will find the Battery Maritime Building and the Whitehall Terminal, which serves the Staten Island Ferry.  The ferry to The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island leave from Castle Clinton.   The curved, mirrored building is17 State Street.  The first pier you see, with the clock tower is Battery Park Pier A.   Moving north the hexagonal building, in the Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park, is the Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.   Moving north, through Battery Park City, you reach North Cove, and World Financial Center.  Three World Financial Center (200 Vesey Street)  has the pyramid roof and houses the offices of American Express, and is the tallest of the World Financial Center buildings.  The glass atrium is the Winter Garden, and behind these buildings stood the World Trade Center.  7 World Trade Center has been rebuilt and 1 World Trade (fka, The Freedom Tower) is under construction.  Nelson A. Rockefeller Park is the last section of Battery Park City.

Heading north, once Battery Park concludes, Hudson River Park begins, which runs up the west side to 59th Street.  The tan brick structure, on Pier 34 is the Holland Tunnel ventilator shaft.  The large white building, Pier 40, has a footprint of over 14 acres and  is the home of the Hudson River Park Trust’s offices and  a large athletic field.  The three-level Pier 40, covers four square blocks andwas built in 1963 when it was leased to the Holland America Line, which used it until 1973.  Just north of Pier 40, the massive, red-brick, Romanesque Revival-style rental apartment building, The Archive, is one of the city’s early conversions of a landmark building. Completed in 1899, the building served as the U. S. Appraiser’s Warehouse until it was converted to rental apartments in 1988.   The two glass, just about “transparent,”16-story towers 16 story were designed by Richard Meier and are located t the north and south corners of Perry and West Street in the West Village.  The third glass tower, just to the south, at 165 Charles Street, was also designed by Richard Meier, but was built and developed separately.  In front of these buildings is the synthetic turf lawn on Pier 46.  The green building is the currently vacant, Pier 57.    The “twisted” office building (West 18th Street) was designed by Frank Gehry for InterActive Corporation (IAC).  Just north of this building, the curved high-rise, of many rectangles, is the residential building 100 11th Avenue, designed by Jean Nouvel.   Moving north,  the blue buildings, including the pier with the “giant net’ comprise Chelsea Piers Sport and Entertainment Complex (Piers 59, 60, and 61), which were formerly luxury liner passenger ship terminals.  The Historic Baltimore & Ohio Railroad  Float Transfer Bridge is north of the Chelsea Piers at Pier 66a.  Until the early 1970s, railroad cars used to float into Manhattan by barge, then link up with railroad tracks at the waterfront, and finally to warehouses located nearby. Before the advent of refrigeration, livestock was transported into Manhattan, then herded to the nearby Meat Market.  Toward the southwest end of the pier, Pier 66a also is where the historic John J. Harvey fireboat has its home.  The 19 story, large, brown brick and concrete, with rounded corners, building is the Starrett-Lehigh building, at 601 West26th Street.  The 2.2 million-square-foot building was completed in 1932 as a freight distribution building, which originally had a railroad as the ground floor occupant. Traveling north, the long, blackened glass structure is the I.M. Pei designed Senator Jacob Javits  Convention Center (34th -38th Streets).  Pier76 is west of the Javits Center and is the home of the tow pound, operated by the New York City Police Department.  The 38 story building labelled “The New Yorker” has nothing to do with the magazine but is The New Yorker Hotel, built by Garment Center developer, Mack Kanner in 1930.  Further north, the aircraft carrier is the USS Intrepid, which is the anchor (no pun intended) of the Intrepid Air, Sea, and Space Museum (Pier 86 at 46th Street).    Just north of the Intrepid are the New York City Passenger Cruise Ship Terminals (between 48th and 52nd Streets).  The large green “shed,” north of the cruise ship piers, is a New York City Sanitation Facility (59th Street), which is about the end of Hudson River Park and the beginning of Riverside Park South.  Note that just about every Hudson River Park pier is described further in the “Hudson River ParkCategory in this blog/website.Looking back to New Jersey, and the stretch of Jersey City from the Colgate clock, the long, but “short” building is Harborside Financial Center.  Followed by the Hyatt Hotel, located on the Harborside Financial Center’s south pier.  Various residential and commercial high rises take you north, past Newport Marina and the Pavonia/Newport PATH station (not readily visible from the water).  Just north, in tan brick, you will see the other Holland Tunnel ventilator shaft.  Jersey City then ends and Hoboken begins, just north of the ventilator shaft.

Note the Hoboken Rail Terminal, constructed in 1907 as the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad.  Today, it serves mostly New Jersey Transit commuter trains and buses, the PATH train, and ferries to New York City.   North of the station, atop the hill (Castle Point)  is part of Stevens Institute of Technology.  The tall building is Wesley J. Howe Center, occupying the site of the former “Stevens Castle” on Castle Point. Just next to Castle Point is the Union Dry Dock Company (shipyard). Moving north, after Hoboken is the town of Weekhawken.  Weekhawken is home to Lincoln Harbor and Port Imperial.  The restaurant you see on the pier, after Lincoln Harbor, is The Chart House.  The elevated helix you see is the ramp to/from the Lincoln Tunnel, between New Jersey and New York.  The dark brick structure is the ventilator shaft of the Lincoln Tunnel.  Just south of  Port Imperial is the Hudson Riverfront 9/11 Memorial, which consists of two trident-shaped beams, which served as supports for the World Trade Center (WTC) tower, salvaged from the WTC site, which stand 8 feet wide, 30 feet long, and weigh 50,000 pounds.  The memorial also includes a lawn, infinity pool and fountain.   Following north, after Weekhawken is West New York (New Jersey), Guttenberg, and Edgewater.  The Crab House, on the pier, is in Edgewater, as is the Edgewater Golf Range.  The large Hess fuel tanks are in Edgewater.   Just past the Hess fuel tanks is the Binghamton, a retired ferryboat that operated from 1905 to 1967 transporting passengers across the Hudson River between Manhattan and Hoboken.  Operated as a floating restaurant from 1975 to 2007, the Binghamton is now closed and awaiting reuse.  Edgewater is also home to the Edgewater Marina.  Edgewater, about three blocks wide and 3½ miles long, has seen major growth over the past decade, as new waterfront condominiums, increased shopping and dining options and a direct ferry offering 13-minute service to Midtown Manhattan have drawn thousands of new residents. According to U.S. Census data, the borough’s population grew 50% to 11,513 in 2010 from 7,677 in 2000.   Fort Lee is the next town, leading up to and including the George Washington Bridge.

Turning back to Manhattan, and about 59th Street, so begins Riverside Park South.  If you are looking for Pier D (64th Street), the twisted mass of iron that served as a loading and unloading site for New York Central Railroad boxcars from barges, it was removed in January 2011, due to concerns of its eventual collapse into the Hudson River.  Remaining, though, is the 69th Street Transfer Bridge, which was part of the West Side Line of the New York Central Railroad, and was a dock for car floats which allowed the transfer of railroad cars from the rail line to car floats which crossed the Hudson River to the Weehawken Yards in New Jersey.

North of the 69th Street Transfer Bridge is the 79th Street Boat Basin.  And set back, and north of the boat basin is the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which commemorates Union Army soldiers and sailors who served in the American Civil War (89th Street).  This should not be confused with Grant’s Tomb (Ulysses S. Grant [1822–1885], American Civil War General and 18th President of the United States, and his wife, Julia Dent Grant [1826–1902]), at 122nd Street in Riverside Park at Morningside Heights.  Just about next to Grant’s Tomb is Riverside Church, The Riverside Church located on Riverside Drive and 120th Street near Columbia University, where Harlem and the Upper West Side meet. North of The Soldier’s and Sailors Monument and south of Riverside Church, the tall, glass towers are the Ariel condominiums, Ariel East 2628 Broadway and Ariel West 245 West 99th Street (64 floors).

Further up, the large structure on the water is Riverbank State Park, which is atop the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant (137th – 145th Streets).  Glance northward, and you see the George Washington Bridge, and the Little Red Lighthouse on Jeffrey’s Hook.   The Little Red Lighthouse originally was built on Sandy Hook, New Jersey.  The George Washington Bridge opened to traffic on October 25, 1931.  The Bridge is near the sites of Fort Washington (on the New York side) and Fort Lee (in New Jersey), which were fortified positions used by General Washington and his American forces in his unsuccessful attempt to deter the British occupation of New York City in 1776 during the American Revolutionary War.

Note 2 – Some descriptive phrases herein may be sourced from other websites (e.g., Wikipedia).  The respective reference’s link is attributed elsewhere in this blog/website.

Posted March 11, 2011 by David Polakoff

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