Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Bridge is Up and the Battery's Down

Last Saturday, Danielle and I indulged in an all-day bike ride from 97th Street to Battery Park, to and from Governor's Island via ferry, all the way up to the George Washington Bridge, and back home. Sure, I couldn't get out of bed that evening (although Danielle, the biking pro, went to a party! in Queens!), but it was worth it to spend the whole day outside, enjoying the weather and the West Side Greenway, not to mention exploring parts of the City I had never seen.

Somewhere along the west 50s (or 60s?) a few large rusty ruins lie in the water. The shore sports swaths of dune-like grasses and these funky red shelters, a nod, perhaps, to the riverbank's onetime industrial character.

The ferry ride to Governor's Island is a real treat, not the least because it's not even ten minutes long. The ferry departs from a highly decorated pink and green terminal, a detail of which is on the left (above), right next door to the terminal of the Staten Island Ferry, that big orange monster you can see leaving its dock (above right). But of course the real treat that the ferry ride offers is views of downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. I most enjoyed seeing all the sailboats. This lovely schooner (below) graced our voyage both there (left) and back, when it looked especially fetching in front of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges (right).

Governor's Island looks like an Ivy League campus, slowly crumbling to dust. Acres of trees shade large brick buildings with white colonial details (above) and an old fort or two (below right). The Island lies close to downtown Manhattan and just across a channel from Red Hook, the industrial port of Brooklyn. They're hoping to turn Red Hook into a Potomac Mills, complete with an Ikea (!) but for now it just housed the largest cruise ship I've ever seen (below left), which completely dwarfed the sailboat gliding by.

The West Side Greenway really is a fabulous recreational resource. It runs all along the Island from the Battery to Fort Washington (though apparently it becomes a little hazy around Inwood), it's well paved (which is more than you can say for most city streets) and, of course, it offers unparalleled views of the Hudson and the ever picturesque New Jersey. The 79th Street Boat Basin (left) and the George Washington Bridge (right) are particularly lovely.

We stopped to rest under the GWB and felt like we were in another world. Looking north (left) the bridge's pier seemed like the final reach of civilization. Looking south (right), the skyscrapers of Manhattan looked hazy in the distance. Tucked under the bridge, The Little Red Lighthouse (below) had become a shrine that we pilgrims on bikes had struggled to visit. What a jewel!

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