7. There’s a Historic Float Bridge that Used to Link New York City to the Rest of the Country
If you’ve ever visited the Frying Pan, a collection of floating boats and barges that make for a waterfront bar and restaurant hotspot, you’ve walked along a piece of historic infrastructure. The entrance to the Frying Pan, with its criss-crossed wooden beams and rail tracks at Pier 66, is a float bridge that was once part of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Until as late as the 1970s, railroad cars would float to Manhattan by barge then link up with railroad tracks that used to run down the waterfront. The High Line is part of this rail infrastructure that still exists. The train cars would then pull into warehouses nearby, like the Starrett-Lehigh Building and the Nabisco building, which is now Chelsea Market, bringing sheep, cattle, produce and more.
While this floating rail line no longer exists, New York City still operates a barge rail line between New Jersey and Brooklyn – and you can see it in action here. The Lightship Frying Pan is permanently docked at Pier 66, along with a historic barge of the same type that could have served the B&O Railroad during its operation. Also accessible through the Frying Pan is the Fireboat John J. Harvey, a retired fireboat that served the city of New York from 1931 to 1994. The John J. Harvey certainly knows how to make an entrance, including showing up at the 2016 Dîner en Blanc to put on a spectacular water show. It also was part of the flotilla that accompanied an arrival of the Queen Mary 2 to New York harbor.
Elsewhere in Hudson River Park, you can find other historic remnants, including the Cunard Line’s Pier 54 archway, once part of the original Chelsea Piers building, and the Lilac Museum Steamship, a floating library and event space.