Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bridge of the Week #61: Ramblersville-Hawtree Memorial Bridge

This week's bridge is the Ramblersville-Hawtree Memorial Bridge, one of those bridges that most people don't know about, that has no major architectural or aesthetic interest, but leads to a lot of fascinating information about its neighborhood and the city.

It is located in Ramblersville, a tiny section of land that it generally considered part of Howard Beach in Queens, although the name Ramblersville predates the name Howard Beach, and in fact Ramblersville was the name for a much larger area at one time. (It was not named for any person as far as I can tell, possibly just a good place to ramble.) The Howard Beach station on the A train (when that branch to the Rockaways was part of Long Island Railroad, and long before Idlewild/JFK Airport was there) was originally called Ramblersville Station. Now, Ramblersville, is restricted to a small patch of land, almost and island itself, south of 160th Ave. and north od Russell St., and east of the Hawtree Basin and west of the eastern branch of Hawtree Basin along the tracks for the A train, and it includes only a few small meandering streets that branch off from 102 St., which runs right down the middle.

The bridge is at the southern edge of the neighborhood, and carries 102 St. over a branch of Hawtree Basin (which curves around to the north toward the A station and JFK Airport). It is a simple concrete bridge, built in October 1931, that slopes down on the southern side to Russell St. and the Hamilton Beach neighborhood (more about that on our next bridge). It was originally named the 102nd St.-Lenihan's Bridge, in honor of the then-state assemblyman. But in 2001 it was renamed to honor seven soldiers from the neighborhood, who all lived within 500 feet of the bridge, who served and were killed in World War II. Today there is a plaque honoring them and an American flag flying above the plaque in the middle of the bridge.

From a runner's standpoint, this bridge and the quiet streets around it can make a nice place to run, and a nice side trip if in the Howard Beach area, for example crossing the Congressman Joseph P. Addabbo Bridge and Cross Bay Memorial Bridge to the Rockaways, or running the Belt Parkway path, or even a nice stroll if waiting for a train from JFK. Along the Hawtree Basin (called Hawtree Creek before it was dredged) are small houses, each with its own dock, which seem reminiscent of another era. To get to the bridge, you can take 102nd St. south from 157th Ave., which is the most direct way from Cross Bay Boulevard, or you can take a footpath/sidewalk that runs from the very southern end of the A train station to Russell St. at 104th St., where you can really get a nice look at the Hawtree. (The Hawtree Creek/Basin by all appearances seems to have simply been named after the tree. I couldn't find any relevant mention of any person named Hawtree.)

Pics: 1. The center of the bridge, with plaque and flagpole; 2. The plaque, commemorating the seven soldiers; 3. Hamilton Beach sign on Russell St. at the southern end of the bridge.

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