Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bridge of the Week #4: Roosevelt Avenue Bridge

This week's bridge is the Roosevelt Avenue Bridge in Queens, which carries Roosevelt Avenue from Willet's Point and Citi Field to College Point Boulevard in downtown Flushing. Its 1,400-foot length crosses over the Van Wyck Expressway and the Flushing River and carries 4 lanes of traffic, sidewalks on either side (although I believe the north sidewalk is currently closed for maintenence work), and the upper deck holds the tracks for the 7 train. It was built from 1925 to 1927 as a drawbridge, but was fixed with the construction of the Van Wyck Expressway in the 1960's. It was overhauled in the early 1980's and is due for another renovation from 2012-2015. In the upcoming renovations the sidwalks are to be widened from 8 feet to 10 feet, with designated bike lanes.

In my opinion, it is not a very attractive bridge, nor very interesting other than the fact that it connects Citi Field (new home of the New York Mets) and Flushing Meadows - Corona Park with downtown Flushing. There are some wetlands along the Flushing River that might be home to some wildlife, but I'm not sure how clean the water is. There is also a large construction project taking place near the entrance in downtown Flushing which doesn't add to the pleasure of the crossing, although perhaps it will when it's done.

The Bridge was named, obviously after Roosevelt Avenue, which was itslef named after Theodore Roosevelt. It was originally named Greepoint Avenue, and still is when it crosses into Brooklyn, but the name of the street in Queens was changed in 1930 (I believe).

P.S. Sorry I don't have a good picture of the bridge. If I find one, I'll update the post.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bridge of the Week #3: City Island Bridge

This week's bridge (sorry it's a litlte late) is the City Island Bridge, which connects City Island, part of the Bronx that sits in Long Island Sound, to the mainland of the Bronx at Rodman's neck*. The bridge is 950 feet long, and includes one section that was a swing bridge until fixed in 1963. It was built from 1899-1901, replacing a wooden bridge previously on the site.

For runners, it has sidewalks on both sides that connect to City Island Avenue on the island and well-maintained bike/pedestrian paths on both sides of City Island Road on the mainland. It carries three traffic lanes - one in each direction and one emergency lane. It is a pleasant run to continue the approximate mile and a half on quiet city streets to the southern end of City Island, and the City Island Road pathway connects to the Pelham Parkway, which has a nice running/biking path, and Pelham Park, as well as to Shore Road, which leads to Pelham Manor in Westchester County. Also near to the bridge on the mainland is Orchard Beach, a large public beach meant to be the Bronx's answer to Coney Island (minus the roller coasters and sideshows). City Island is a community of about 4500 people, and it is unique in New York City as it has the feel of a small New England fishing village, or at least a Long Island fishing village. There are many seafood restaurants, if you care to take a meal break during or after your run.

Although it is a low-rising bridge, with only 8 feet of clearance above the water, it does give a nice view. Easliy visible across the water, if somewhat distant, are the Throg's Neck Bridge and Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, and even the Empire State Building and other skyscrapers of midtown Manhattan.

Plans have been underway since 2003 to replace the bridge with a cable-stayed bridge. Original estimates were for a cost of $33 million and a completion of 2010. The cost estimate as of 2009 is $120 million with work scheduled to start in 2011. Gee, something in New York costing 4 times as much to build as originally thought and five years behind schedule? Get the smelling salts. (I'm sure mob contracting, if it exists, has nothing to do with it).

The nearest subway station is the end of the 6 train a couple miles away in Pelham Park. The bridge is crossed by the Bx29 bus to Co-Op City.
The bridge was named after the island, which went by many names since its founding in 1619, but approaching 1800, as part of Westchester County, it was developed commercially with the intention of rivaling the city of New York, so the name New City Island stuck, and by the time its residents voted to detach from Westchester and join New York City, it was simply known as City Island.
*I was looking for a picture of Dennis Rodman, particularly one that showed his neck well, but I couldn't find a pic of him I wanted on my blog.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Quiz answer

We have had a correct answer in my quiz. Chisholm Deupree correctly answered that I named my blog after the Moody Blues album from 1981, "Long Distance Voyager", the greatest album from the greatest band. This album includes the hits "The Voice", "Gemini Dream" and "Talking Out of Turn", but there's not a weak song on it. I highly encourage everyone to buy it! And it works out nicely that the title agrees with my exercise-related passion. Congrats and thanks to Chisholm, and I'll try to think of a good prize for him.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Here's a one-question quiz to everyone out there. Why did I name my blog "Long Distance Voyager", other than my love of ultrarunning? (Hint: it has nothing to do with running.) I know at least one person knows for sure, but the first to answer correctly wins the prize! I'll actually try to think of some kind of prize to give. If it's too tough, I'll give hints. :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bridge of the Week #2: University Heights Bridge

I started this series with the biggest bridge, now I go to a smaller bridge, but the closest to my home - the University Heights Bridge over the Harlem River between Manhattan and the Bronx.

The origin of this bridge is an interesting history. In the late 1800's it was the site of a low footbridge, when this stretch of the Harlem River was too shallow for navigation. A few factors caused a change. Primarily, the northern Harlem River was dredged to allow for shipping from the East River to the Hudson, so the footbridge would have to be removed and some sort of drawbridge constructed. This dredging project, in 1891, is also what separated the Marble Hill neighborhood from Manhattan Island further upriver around 225th St. and Broadway to create the Harlem River Ship Canal. To this day, Marble Hill is the only piece of Manhattan that is attached to the mainland and the Bronx. In addition, the subway line (currently the 1 train) was being extended into the Bronx at that location, and the swing bridge that was built there in 1895 was deemed unsuitable for the train, so the span was removed, floated downstream on a barge and put in place between 207 St. in Manhattan and Fordham Road in the Bronx, and it opened for traffic on January 8, 1908. Because of structural and load concerns, the bridge was rebuilt between 1989-1992, with efforts made to replicate the original as much as possible.

The University Heights Bridge is a swing, or rotating, drawbridge, with a 264-foot span and a clearance of 24 feet above the water. It has a sidewalk on the south side connecting 207th St. with Fordham Road, and carries four lanes of traffic. Immediately on the Bronx side are the University Heights station for Metro North's Harlem line and access ramps to the Major Deegan Expressway.

The bridge is names for the University Heights neighborhood of the Bronx to (or from) which it leads, which itself is named after the Bronx campus of New York University which was established there in 1894 (although it is now Bronx Community College). University chancellor Henry Mitchell MacCracken was trying to establish the name University Heights for the surrounding neighborhood, so he was urging the naming of the bridge as such.

Runners must share the 6-foot wide sidewalk with pedestrians and bikers, but it's seldom congested. I've personally never seen the drawbridge closed, but it is operational. For me, it is a nice connection between the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan to Fordham Road and the Pelham Parkway past the Bronx Zoo and Botanical Gardens and on out toward City Island. Or by turning north on Sedgwick Ave. a few blocks uphill after crossing into the Bronx, it provides an alternative route to Van Cortlandt Park (alternative to Broadway).

Monday, February 1, 2010

Run Around Manhattan

We had a great run around Manhattan yesterday, Jan. 31. It was a big crowd showing up at Dave Obelkevitch's apartment to honor Ted Corbitt on what would have been his 91st birthday. Some old and new friends were there - including Dave (of course), Alicja, Lucimar, Frank, Emmy, Ralph, Eliot, Elaine, Ruth, Mr. Kwon (who will be running across the US this spring raising money for diabetes esearch) and some of his runners from the Korean Road Runner's Club. Before we started, Dave read a letter from Ted's son Gary, who joined us on the run two years ago. Ted's legacy truly lives large.

We had pit stops along the way, at Twin Donut at 218th and Broadway, Bob's Bagels at 86th and York (Susuan Lucks, who usually provides her apartment for this stop, was unavailable this year), and the Staten Island Ferry terminal. This gave everyone a chance to grab something to eat or drink, rest and warm up a little, and regather everyone together.

All told, there were at least 15 people who completed the entire loop course of 33+ miles, the best finish ever according to Dave. I had run the five miles down to Dave's place in the morning, but I decided to forego running the five back afterwards and took the train. 38 miles was good enough.