UNDER THE DOWNTOWN BRIDGES

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Brooklyn seen from under the Williamsburg Bridge.

A few months ago, during Labor Day weekend last year, I decided to walk on the East River, basically from the Staten Island Ferry up to 23rd Street, and the following day, from 103rd Street down to 59th Street, where the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge (here in Manhattan colloquially known as the 59th Street Bridge) is located. The second part of this adventure was published about 15 days later, right before Hurricane Sandy: “The East River Promenade – Manhattan’s Upper East Side”, which can be found on our website.

Comparing the Upper East Side to Downtown, I could say Downtown was a little disappointing. A long way of the walk needs to be improved, from north of Pier 17, under the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, up to the Williamsburg Bridge. On the other hand, the walk from the Staten Island Ferry northward for about 15 minutes is beautiful, with Downtown’s skyscrapers and nice river views — which I missed the first day because they were filming a movie in the area, so I had to go back there a couple of days later.

Runners are privileged with the promenade near the Williamsburg Bridge.
Runners are privileged with the promenade near the Williamsburg Bridge.

When you get to the Williamsburg Bridge, you will notice the promenade is excellent. It is a very nice area where people go running, fishing, walking, reading, tanning, biking, filming, taking pictures, taking naps… There is also an amphitheater, which is very nice, with interesting cultural events taking place in the summer. By the time of the day I walked near it there was no performance; but there were some good-looking people working out to keep themselves in good shape.

Another disappointment: Piers 15 and 17 – which I think look great, as they have since 1985 – will be demolished and rebuilt. Sadly, the designs of the new piers are not pretty – they are actually just some plain, ugly, glass boxes, whose construction will start sometime later this year.

Hanging out at the pier is awesome; I dined at Harbour Lights, a very fine restaurant with comfortable dinning-rooms, as well as wonderful balconies with amazing views of the East River. Their paella and oysters are delicious (and let’s not forget their drinks!). Go eat some before you miss it for good!

CITY SITE by Lucas Eller

Paella at Harbor Lights, at Pier 17.
Oysters as appetizers.
Boat on the East River — or estuary, which is what it really is.
This is Pier 17 in September 2012, before the 2013 demolition.

 

Even though it’s a little dusty there, there are benches where one can sit and socialize under the bridges.
People chatting and working out near the amphitheater just south of the Williamsburg Bridge.

 

Detail of a column of the Manhattan Bridge.