Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bridge of the Week #78: Porpoise Bridge

This week's bridge is the Porpoise Bridge over the Flushing River in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens. Its location is just east of the ramp coming down from the subway and LIRR stations, and near the miniature golf course.

It is a fixed bridge, but includes tidal gates to prevent high tides or flooding further into the park. This is the southernmost (inlandmost) bridge before the Flushing River is "buried", or diverted into tubes and covered by parkland. There are some proposals being put forth to restore the river to daylight.

This bridge was built for the 1939 World's Fair to protect the fairgrounds from flooding and saltwater, and according to one source was originally called Meridian Road Bridge, although according to Google Maps the park road that crosses it is now called Perimeter Road, although I don't think it really matters, since it's just an access road for park employees and other official vehicles. Tide Gate Bridge is a name given on a sign-map in the park, but I think that's more descriptive than an official name. The sign in the picture above is good enough for me. Apparently it got its current name because at the 1939 World's Fair there was nearby a statue of a woman with porpoises dancing around her.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bridge of the Week #77: Rockaway Blvd. Bridge (#1)

This week's bridge is only a few steps away from last week's bridge, this is the Rockaway Boulevard Bridge. I put the #1 up there because there's another bridge on the same street farther north. Neither bridge has an official name as far as I could find, and neither is very interesting or unique in its own right.

This bridge is more interesting and unique in its location. It's at the southern end of the tiny area sometimes called Meadowmere, which itself is a little appendix dangling from the southern tip of Rosedale, Queens, east of JFK airport. This bridge runs south from this appendix over Hook Creek to Meadowmere Park, Nassau County, where Rockaway Blvd. becomes Rockaway Turnpike. Hook Creek is one of the little inlets in the JFK area on the east side of Jamaica Bay.

There are no large parks in the immediate area, although the Rockaway beaches are just a few miles to the south. So if you happen to live in Rosedale, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens or other areas of southeastern Queens, this could be on your way if you want to run to the beach. Otherwise, there's probably not much reason for a runner to cross this bridge. It's a fixed steel and concrete bridge, I don't know when it was built or exactly how long it is (maybe 100 feet or so). But there it is.

The name of the bridge, of course, comes from the street, but the name Rockaway, which refers to the peninsula of Long Island that extends westward from more or less the area of this bridge, comes from a Lenape word, roughly "Rack-a-wak-e" which is believed to mean "place of sands."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bridge of the Week #76: Meadowmere Park Bridge

I know with the Hawtree Basin Bridge I'd already said that was the last footbridge, but not so. This week's bridge is the Meadowmere Park Bridge between the extreme southern tip of Rosedale, Queens and Meadowmere Park in Nassau County.

This wooden footbridge is one of the little hidden gems of the city that I'm sure few people ever see. It's tucked away between two tiny neighborhoods along the marshy inlets east and south of JFK Airport that eventually feed into Jamaica Bay. This particular waterway if the Head of Bay Inlet according to some sources, Hook Creek according to others. I'm going with Head of Bay Inlet, not that it really matters much. The waters all kind of mingle among each other here.

The bridge itself is nice enough, although not entirely upkept, with the "EA" of the "MEADOWMERE PARK" lettering having fallen off (see 2nd picture). I haven't been able to find a date the bridge was built.

The location and the neighborhood is what's fascinating about this bridge. As Rockaway Boulevard runs through Rosedale, Queens along the eastern edge of JFK Airport south towards the Five Towns area of Nassau County, there is a tiny triangle of land west of the boulevard, called Meadowmere, that is home to 66 people and four short streets (1st-3rd Sts, and Meyer Ave.), no more than a couple hundred yards in any direction. The houses all look to be in some state of repair, or disprepair. The neighborhood only got sewer service from New York City in 2007. Through a quirk in geography, the tiny Nassau County neighborhood to which the bridge connects actually is to the west of the Queens neighborhood, as it's on a small island that hooks up to the north.

For runners, it's not easy to get to this area, but that's what makes it fun. There are no subways in the area, but there is bus service along Rockaway Blvd., and the Lawrence and Cedarhurst LIRR stations are not too far to the south. There is a long, isolated stretch of Rockaway Boulevard along the northeastern edge of the airport, that at least has a sidewalk. You can also get there by taking Brookville Blvd. south from Rosedale. Or, from Far Rockaway, you can go east to Inwood and Lawrence, up Rockaway Turnpike, which becomes Rockaway Blvd. Not an obious runners' destination, but worth making a visit if you're ready for a long run. There are also a couple of other bridges nearby that I will discuss in future posts.