On and off the 1 and A trains in The Bronx and Manhattan

Each trip to New York has been characterized by particular subway lines, and on this trip is was the 1 (Broadway / 7th Avenue) and A (8th Avenue Express). I usually began in the Bronx, not far from where I encountered the Bronx cat, getting on the elevated section of the 1 over Broadway.

At 168th Street, I regularly switched from the 1 to the A. This is an odd station. The tunnel for the 1 train is quite deep underground and the platform is in cavernous curved hall with old-time light fixtures.

It is an eerie place, but was the most important transfer point of this trip. The tunnel connects to the more conventional station for the A train above via elevators, the only station I know of that is arranged this way. From 168th Street southward, the A served as an efficient spine along the west side of Manhattan, connecting to Chelsea, the village, and on into Brooklyn.

This worked well, until the elevated section of the southbound 1 was closed last Monday. After weighing the options, I decided to walk the route instead. It was actually the first time I had ever walked on Broadway south of West 230th Street – in all the times I crossed the Broadway Bridge over the Harlem River, I had never done so on foot. The view from the bridge looking over towards Spuyten Duyvil and the Hudson River beyond is quite scenic.

Broadway continued south from the bridge to the Inwood section of northern Manhattan. This is another area I had never walked through before. Among the more interesting things was this mysterious looking archway behind some storefronts on Broadway near 216th Street.

I had seen it before from the elevated tracks, but now on foot I had a chance to take a closer look. It seemed to be incorporated into one of the auto-repair places, but nonetheless completely out of place from the current landscape. I posted it to Facebook and Twitter as the “mystery arch”, and a friend pointed me to some information about the arch and associated mansion. It is in fact The Seaman-Drake Arch, and its story from a grand landmark to a forgotten one is a bit sad. But it is still there, even surviving a 1970 fire, and could be restored and protected if there is enough interest. (It was still for rent as of this 2010 article).

Broadway continues south to 207th Street, where the A line begins. Before descending into the subterranean station, I saw a sign reminding us that this section of Broadway is in fact U.S. 9.. But rather than following the highway, I descend the stairs to catch the A and resume my regular journey.

The chance to explore a new neighborhood, so close to one I already knew, was an unexpected gift from what was annoying subway-line closure. I will have to come back to see more detail sometime (when it is warmer).

Wordless Wednesday: California 41

This is one of the new pieces I have this fall for San Francisco Open Studios!



If you link up, please leave a comment as well.

Fun with Highways: I-990

Sometimes I just need a virtual escape based purely on numerical criteria. Such is the case with I-990, the highest-numbered Interstate highway in the U.S. It is a relatively short spur highway northeast of Buffalo, New York, and carries the name Lockport Expressway, suggesting that it was intended to connect from I-290 north of Buffalo to the town of Lockport. We did visit Lockport in our New York Primary Highways article earlier this year. However, as it currently exists, I-990 just ends at a simple intersection with a local surface highway, NY 263.


[Click to enlarge]

As can be seen in the above image, it looks like there is a piece of unused roadway representing where they highway would have continued past its current terminus.

This video follows I-990 along its entire 6.43-mile length north from I-290 to its terminus. I recommend turning off the sound, as the local radio station in the background gets tiresome.

Wordless Wednesday: Our 2000th Post! (with Luna)

This is our 2000th post on CatSynth. It’s appropriate that it is both an (almost) Wordless Wednesday and features Luna.



Fun with Highways: South Riverdale

Today we look at a long walk from a long time ago. It was probably 1979, and in the summer, a time when I was often with my grandparents in the Bronx. I had already acquired the lifelong fascination with streets and roads that I retain to this day, and my great aunt (my grandmother’s sister) planned a long walk for us in a neighborhood that alternatively could be called “South Riverdale” or Spuyten Duyvil. It on the western edge of the Bronx along the Hudson River and just north of the northern tip of Manhattan.


[Click image to enlarge]

This walk is quite a vivid memory. It is odd to realize that I can retrace most of it on a map. I know that we started out from what was then the intersection of West 230th Street and Riverdale Avenue, heading south up the hill to Johnson Avenue. The hillside was steep and wooded (as it is today), but then enough that you could see the flat city blocks towards Broadway to the east. We eventually turned right onto Kappock Street, which curved its way further up the hill amidst more buildings.

From there, we turned north onto the service road for the Henry Hudson Parkway (NY 9A), which we followed for a distance. Though this mostly provided a view of the parkway itself, one could also look past it towards the Hudson River. Ultimately, we turned away from the parkway onto West 235th Street, crossing Johnson Avenue again in the “downtown” section of Riverdale. The exact route we took to get there is a bit fuzzy, but I attempt my best guess in the map above.

We stopped for a rest and refreshment (probably juice or milk as I hated soda), before continuing on West 235th towards Riverdale Avenue. It is on the side of steep hill with ledges separating lanes, so we walked along the higher section and descended the hill back to West 231st.

In November of 2002, I wandered back along West 230th Street out of curiosity to see how things had or had not changed. An old library building I remembered was still there, as were most of the larger commercial buildings. But the area around the intersection at the end of 230th was completely reconfigured, with wide green spaces separating different directions. The nearby high school campus had gotten a lot bigger. One small street from the start of the original walk, Ewen Street, appeared to have been completely removed.

It would like to re-create the original walk on a subsequent trip to New York, along with photos. It might even happen this year.