In summary: New York City had a life of it’s own in my head. In early August, I visited there for the first time. On the first afternoon we visited Central Park and were there for hours, despite the jet lag. We started our first full day with a tour of the Intrepid and the Space Shuttle Enterprise. Next was the full cruise (two and a half hours plus) around Manhattan – south down the Hudson River into the Upper Harbor, up the East River under the “BMW” bridges, past Midtown and the UN, and into the Harlem River.
Along the northern section of the Harlem River the scenery changes rather significantly, at least the view from the river on the starboard side of the boat. The banks rise with steep cliffs and everything’s covered in forest.
The tower here is in Highbridge Park and was originally part of a system to bring fresh water in from upstate. The bridge shown, not surprisingly, is the High Bridge.
The Alexander Hamilton Bridge is just upstream from the High Bridge and it also is beautiful and spectacular. (There is no Aaron Burr Bridge – I checked. Although Burr’s cousin apparently built the first wooden bridge across the Hudson River about the same time that Aaron was doing that dueling thing.)
The aforementioned cliffs and forests. It reminded me a lot of scenes in Vermont along the Connecticut River (and others). Given that it’s the same general part of the world and the geology is similar, that’s not too surprising.
Looking at the map, I see that this is actually the Harlem River Park. I was constantly amazed at the number and size of parks in New York City. Given the price of land in the city, it’s very much to their credit that so much of it is kept open.
Looks are deceiving here – the park is a long, thin strip along the river but isn’t very wide. At the top of the bluff the park is only about a block to two blocks wide, then it’s wall to wall high-rise apartments again. If you look carefully, just over the top of the trees at the top of the bluff in the center, you can just see the top of one of the buildings.
Remember I mentioned the water birds that seemed to not be bothered by the big city being right there?
This large blue heron was cruising along and made a perfect landing on that old, rotted pier piling.
North of Smuggler’s Cove the east bank of the Harlem River turns back into a standard NYC industrial landscape. At the far northern tip of Manhattan Island you’ll find the Broadway Bridge. Yes, that Broadway. It’s not just the theaters down by Times Square.
While that might be the northern tip of Manhattan Island on the left bank of the Broadway Bridge, it’s not the northern tip of the borough of Manhattan. Over on the right bank is Marble Hill, which is the only part of Manhattan on the North American mainland. It used to be a part of the island, but the 1895 construction of the Harlem Ship Canal cut it off from Manhattan and left it as its own island. When the river on the north side was filled in 1914, the island of Marble Hill became a part of the mainland. But they didn’t want to be part of the Bronx, so a special resolution was passed making it a part of Manhattan, as well as a part of New York County, not Bronx County.
Word is they’re still pretty touchy about that.
Once the Harlem River reaches the northern tip of Manhattan Island the waterway turns east. It’s actually the Ship Canal, but this short east-west section is referred to as the Spuyten Duyvil Creek. (Just a touch of the old Dutch settlement influence in that name I suspect.)
At the very northern tip of Manhattan Island here is Muscota Marsh and the Columbia University athletic complex, including the rowing center seen here.
Passing under the Henry Hudson Bridge, you come to the Amtrak Bridge at the end of the Harlem River. This bridge isn’t tall enough for one of those Canada geese to go under, so it swings out of the way for everyone that passes on the river, then swings back for the trains.
Heading out onto the Hudson River to finish our circumnavigation of Manhattan, we see the Amtrak bridge closing, with the Henry Hudson Bridge high above it.
Next, south on the Hudson and back to our port.
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