New York City’s Hell Gate Bridge sits on the north end of the East River, between Astoria, Queens and Randall’s Island .The bridge is named for the once-dangerous channel it bridges, derived from the Dutch word hellegat, which means “hell channel.” Five years ago, infrastructure aficionados marked its centennial year with cake and events and this year, Hell Gate Bridge turns 105 years old.
Hell Gate also happens to be a favorite of Dave Frieder, “the Bridge Man” and author of The Magnificent Bridges of New York City who has been documenting sights from atop the city’s bridges for over two decades. With his help and that of our Chief Experience Officer, Justin Rivers, we’re sharing ten fun facts and secrets about the Hell Gate Bridge. Want more? Join us for an in-depth discussion in our upcoming virtual talk about the Secrets of Hell Gate Bridge!
Secrets of Hell Gate Virtual Talk
1. The Hell Gate Bridge is Actually Comprised of Three Bridges
The Hell Gate Bridge is actually comprised of a complex of three bridges: the well-known Steel Arch, an inverted bow string arch that spans a former water-filled channel (Little Hell Gate) between Wards and Randall’s Islands, and a small truss bridge, which would have been a double bascule-type bridge that goes over a small “Kill” between the Bronx and Randall’s Island.
In 2015, a pedestrian and bike route was opened beneath arches of the truss bridge, providing a pleasant and easy way to connect between the Port Morris in the Bronx and Randall’s Island. The bridge was the result of years of activism by groups like South Bronx Unite and others which have been advocating for healthier urban design for a community adversely affected by continued industrial waterfront conversion.