[Update: Since publication of this article in 2011, the bridge has been stabilized]
Nearly ten years ago, the Riverside South Planning Corporation announced plans to convert this floating bridge on W. 69th Street into a ferry terminal. Even Donald Trump supported it, thinking it would take pressure off the 72nd Street 1/2/3 subway station. But as the bridge nears its 100-year birthday, it remains abandoned to the elements–a salient reminder of our industrial past, juxtaposed against the high rise apartments near Lincoln Center. It was once a transfer terminal for the New York Central Railroad, facilitating the movement of freight from railyards to river barges known as “car floats.” This one is “Floating Bridge No. 4” and according to the New York Times in 2001, it has “a pair of hinged bridge decks suspended by cables from a barnlike overhead housing. Motors inside that housing lifted and lowered the decks to align them with the floats, whose position depended on the tides and the loads they carried.”
In 2008, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recommended against the ferry plan because dredging would destroy the habitats for aquatic plants and animals. Fortunately, the D.E.C. was not against preserving the structure itself. At least one resident in the Trump Place towers supports its removal: “It’s junk, and it ought to be removed,” Jeff Jadin told the New York Times in 2008. Ethel Sheffer, former chairperson of Community Board 7 told Untapped recently “I think that the bridge may be in danger of being demolished rather than rebuilt.” So for now, go check out this leftover piece of New York history (and then go get a drink at the 79th Street Boat Basin when it gets warm!).
The transfer bridge is located at W. 69th Street along the Hudson River.
Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.