Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bridge of the Week #55: E. 238 St. Bridge

This week's bridge is a nice one - the E. 238 St. Bridge in the Bronx, which may also be known as the Nereid Ave. Bridge, since Nereid Ave. is the name of the street that crosses it, but more on that later.

This bridge crosses the Bronx River as well as the Bronx River Parkway and the Metro North railroad tracks. A bridge on the site was proposed as far back as 1915 to eliminate a street crossing of the railroad lines. But disputes between the railroads and the city over responsibilty for financing the bridge, pasrticularly since it also crossed the Bronx River, pushed back the start of construction. An agreement was eventually reached to build bridges at both E. 238 St. and E. 241 St. (previously covered). Construction began in 1929 and the bridge opened on April 23, 1931.

The bridge might not look like much while crossing it, but from the bike path that runs underneath (which dead-ends not too far north - see Muskrat Cove Footbridge) it is an attractive bridge with ten high arches, reminiscent of the High Bridge Aqueduct. Overall it's 822 feet long, 80 feet wide, carries four lanes of traffic and easily accessible sidewalks on both sides. The bike path underneath can be accessed from 233 St., at the Woodlawn train station. I've covered this pathway and this area of town for running interest while discussing other bridges, so I won't repeat that here, except to remind that Van Cortlandt Park is not far to the west and the Bronx River pathway continues south from 233 St. a few blocks south.

Nereid Ave. and the bridge are located in the Wakefield neighborhood in the extreme northern section of the Bronx. In fact, Wakefield is the neighborhood that sticks up north of the city line with Yonkers to the west and Mt. Vernon to the east, and Nereid Ave. at that point runs even with the city line. So on the west side of the bridge, the north-south intersecting street is Webster Ave. to the south (New York) and Bronx River Road to the north (Yonkers), and Nereid Ave. itself becomes McLean Ave. as it gently curves north in Yonkers. Bronx Blvd. is the intersecting street on the east.

I was actually putting off discussing this bridge for a while because as much as I looked I couldn't find out why or when E. 238 St. was renamed Nereid Ave., a fact itself that I'm only assuming. A plaque on the bridge names it as the E. 238 St. Bridge. In at least one other case, the Eastern Boulevard Bridge, when a street was renamed, the bridge would retain the old street name. Nereid Ave. does sit where E. 238 St. would be, and I've seen many references that give both street names, particularly references to subway stations, and one unreliable source that said the street was renamed in the 1980's. The word nereid just means a mythical sea nymph, so the street was not named after anybody. However, several blocks to the east, the street angles to the northeast to join the street grid pattern of the Edenwald neighborhood of the Bronx, and I did see one old New York Times article that mentioned how confusing street names became when all the different villages of the Bronx were annexed into the city in 1898, so my best guess is that the angled portion of Nereid Ave. was always there, and E. 238 St. was E. 238 St., but at some point they decided to continue the Nereid Ave. name onto E. 238 St. Confusing enough?

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