Tuesday, August 9, 2016


The 28-mile Waterfront Greenway bike path circles the island of Manhattan. About 95% of it goes along rivers and parks; the rest runs along city streets, and makes for a delightful ride.

But for some reason, from 90th to 125th, it goes straight to hell, or at least purgatory. It's as if the city decided that the people who lived in the Yorkville/East Harlem areas just weren't worth the maintenance. 

Sure, workers could actually fix the problems, but it's so much easier to simply drag out a fence and couple of cones, and forget about it. Most have been there for several months; others, for years. Let's take a guided tour you'll never see from the top of a doubledecker CitySights bus.

At 88th Street, right outside Gracie Mansion, is this little beauty, which theoretically prevents pets and crawling babies from falling into the East River, but, in fact, really wouldn't. The wall under the edge of the path is falling apart, probably due to hurricanes and storms over the decades. Maybe that's the excuse for not fixing it -- Hey, it'll only happen again!

A closer look from another angle. You'd think the cone would be outside the fence, but I think it's covering another hole. The message this sends is that the city cares, but not enough to really do anything meaningful about it.

Look in the river just below that area, and you'll see this. Either it's the handiwork of delinquents, or workers who brought one too many fence sections, and decided it was easier to dump it than to bring it back to the truck. No matter. Maybe it's a future coral reef.

About a block further north is another large hole. Like the other one, the ground appears to have rotted away due to water damage. This is one of the more recent fenced-off areas. Welcome to the neighborhood!

They've appeared to gather some replacement blocks for it, however. But what's the rush? 

Hurricane Sandy socked the area pretty hard, coinciding as it did with an unusually large high tide. The East River overflowed the walk, and continued onto the streets in the low 90s. That might have caused the slow, gradual decay here. This area completely collapsed a few months ago. This is worthy of large plastic tubes rather than cones. We're very proud.

A close-up of the above area. It's difficult to tell from the photo, but this section is sloping down several feet. Had it not been fenced off, it would cause major damage to bikes and bones alike. If you're ever in need for a few hexagrams, look no further. Believe me, this thing isn't going to be fixed before ISIS is eliminated.

Did a tree fall down? No need to plant a new one in its place. Just let the grass grow, and cross your fingers that a jogger doesn't break their ankle when they go six inches down.

Another empty tree pit. It cries out for a tree, right? Or, at the very least, a little cement. Nah! Bring out the fences!

The walkway is lined with 19th-century style street lights. Except for this. Which will never be repaired.

Another fence mystery, this time along the FDR Drive. Judging by the condition of the cement wall, I guess this section was torn down by funsters on a Saturday night. The word came from the NY Public Works Department: Just leave it; it'll make it that much faster to cut the grass around there.

Now this is no mystery. This section of the FDR Drive fence was the victim of a car accident. But while the car was presumably repaired, the fence will remain a wreck for the rest of its life.

Pier 107: built in 1931, deteriorated in the 1960s, closed in 2014, expected to completely fall apart by 2022.
You can walk around it, though. Just be careful of the cracks, splits and holes.

There's talk of a $12-million renovation of Pier 107. Kind of a shame. It's the only place in Manhattan that I know of where you can see stalactites. No need for traveling to any damp cave! 

This part of the Pier 107 ceiling is the home for folded up cardboard boxes. They've gotta go somewhere.

And judging by the big garbage bags glimpsed through a hole in the ceiling, the roof seems to be a home for people. They've gotta go somewhere, too. But if the pier's refurbished, they'll have a spanking-new roof to live on.

This part of the walkway was so badly damaged that the city actually had to do something about it. Building a wooden bridge over the hole was actually a charming idea -- and, more importantly, a lot cheaper. 

Look to the side of the bridge and you can see that the damage itself remains. They could have put down one more piece of wood to completely cover it. But if the city had done that, it would have ruined its reputation for doing a half-assed job on the walkway.

This is the official end of the path at 125th St. You can't tell by this shot, but it's behind a fence that's supposed to keep people out. This is ironic for two reasons. 1) A sign identifies it as a park. 2) There's an opening to the right of the fence that's easy to get through. Note how the guardrail just comes to a stop, allowing anyone to fall in the East River. Well, it is a good way to cool off in the summer.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the project at the opposite end of this part of the Greenway. Until recently, there was a stairway at the 81st Street entrance that went down to the section of the path that runs along the FDR Drive. 

Because it wasn't handicap accessible, construction began on a ramp. (You can see the pillars on the left of the photo.) The rich folk who live close to the construction suddenly choked on their martinis, as the path would allegedly "block their view" of the East River. Coincidentally or not, work on the ramp soon came to a halt. No official reason has been given, although there's talk of a turf war between the Parks and Transportation committees. 

You won't believe it but there's no word on when construction will resume. Bring on the fence, boys!


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