Triboro Bridge
May 8, 2013

Adventures on the Triboro Bridge

Walking across a bridge sounds like it should be a relatively straightforward affair. You hop on the pedestrian lane at one side and follow the structure along till you reach the other. Thus it was for the George Washington, Brooklyn and Koch bridges , and thus we (like to think reasonably) assumed it would be with the Triboro. For worse—or perhaps for better—it was not. Don’t let the seeming complexities of the terrain discourage you. It sounds more difficult than it is and, now that we know it, the route has become our preferred means of getting from Manhattan to Queens.

From the Manhattan side, you hop on the bridge on the northeast corner of 2nd Avenue and 125th Street. If you start from Queens, you get the bridge at 127th street and Triboro Plaza/Hoyt Avenue. We began from the former direction so that’s how we’ll describe our trajectory.

The “trailhead”—if you will—is not exactly prepossessing. It’s a part of Harlem still waiting on the renaissance so clearly evident further west. Once you get up on the bridge, however, the stunning views strike you immediately. After about a quarter of a mile you arrive at the toll section, at which point the cars, cabs and busses you’ve been accompanying at a distance across the concrete barrier are forced through a gate, and you are detoured down.

The Adventure

Here is where it gets difficult. When you arrive at the bottom of the concrete stairway, you find yourself on Wards and Randall’s Island  in what is essentially a parking lot for the Triboro Bridge Authority, which is right beneath the toll. This is good news, because these folks are eager to help should you need further direction on how to pick up the bridge again and continue your journey into Queens.

From the parking lot, head straight ahead to the other side of the underpass, and make a right, and then a left. At this point your road meanders for about a quarter of a mile, but there’s only one way to go so you can’t get lost. Pass a driving range and miniature golf course, at which point the path leads you past a stadium. Just before it, you will spot a green sign saying: “Pedestrian Walk to Queens,” meaning you’re on the right path. You will notice it’s even more encouraging twin (because now you know you must be headed the right direction), just before you reach the Manhattan Psychiatric Center (looks a bit like a church, just off to your right). Now you’re on a straight path from where you can see your way back on to the bridge.

Back up on the Bridge

Follow a mild ramp back up onto the bridge, at which point the view will take your breath away. The way across the bridge’s span requires you to ascend stairs at the beginning and descend them once you reach the end. You are also required to walk or carry your bikes, if you brought them.

 

The views both south and north are absolutely stunning. You view Manhattan from a slightly wonky perspective. Seeing it slightly off from the iconic versions reveals geographical aspects you won’t see otherwise. Looking north, you see how see how the comparatively low-slung structure of Queens dissolves into the land beyond the city limits.

The final stage of the journey—no matter which end you start from—is comparing where you arrive from where you began. Among the best things about living in New York City is the concentration of diversity packed into such a tiny space. Walking the Triboro Bridge is one of the best ways to experience it.

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