Bridges Project: Borden Avenue Bridge

For a small body of water, the Newtown Creek and its inlet, the Dutch Kill, sure have a lot of bridges over it. Its not surprising of course, these have been working waterways for scores of years and are still lined with warehouses – crossing them was a matter of economic expediency, and since they’re relatively narrow, the cost of adding another bridge was never high, allowing for the construction of bridges very, close together.

Take for instance the Borden Avenue Bridge over the Dutch Kill (#60 on the McCarthy List). It lies less than a quarter mile from the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge, and cross the same body of water. If they were much closes together, they’d touch. Hunters Points Avenue bridge isn’t particularly exciting, but its downright fascinating compared to Borden Avenue. The only thing of note I can say about this bridge is that it sits adjacent to a really sketchy looking strip club. Strip club with a view of Dutch Kill? Classy.

Here’s a picture taken from the bridge of good friend and frequent runner partner Joe, and in the far distance, the Freedom tower.


Access to the bridge is self explanatory, take Borden avenue from 25th street to 30th street (or vice versa) and you’ll be on it.

Bridges Project: Hunters Point Avenue Bridge

Long Island City may be more well known now for condos than warehouses, but if you head east off the Pulaski Bridge  the condos quickly fade to warehouses and sketchy looking strip clubs. This is where you’ll find the little Hunters Point Avenue Bridge (#19 on the McCarthy List), a little bridge which takes Hunters Point avenue over the Dutch Kill, a small inlet of the Newtown Creek.

Joe and I hit this one up last weekend. My favorite part is the sign that tells you not to go swimming.

Here’s my instagraming.

Access to the bridge is from (duh) continuing on Hunters Points Avenue from 27th St. to30th St. (or vice versa). True nerds may wish to note that this is one of the rarely seen single-leaf bascule drawbridge, meaning it raises on only one side!


Bridges Project: The Grand Street Bridges

When Phil was putting together his list of runnable bridges in New York, he wisely choose to put these two bridges together as a single entry (#11). Not much to report here really, two bridges, on grand street, over two sections of the terminus of the Newtown creek. The neighborhood is industrial headed leaning hipster, and the bridges are at steet level (i.e. no elevation gain to speak of). Doesn’t have quite the post-industrial gnarliness of the Greenpoint avenue bridge, but isn’t exactly pretty either.

Access is straight forward, just run along Grand street between Vandervoort and 47th street and you’ll hit them both.

Bridges Project: Greenpoint Avenue Bridge

Trying to get after these bridges while also trying to raise a two year can be a challenge. Right now, I’m going for some low hanging fruit within easy long run distance of my house. Today, it was out to hit a couple more of the bridges which cross the Newtown creek.
First up was this one, the Greenpoint Avenue bridge (# on the McCarthy List), a big four laner that takes you from industrial part of Greenpoint Brooklyn to the industrial park of Long Island City. No condos here, people, (at least not yet) its all salvage yards and storage facilities. To the east, you can see the bigger, more commonly run Pulaski bridge, to the west, the dreaded Kosciuszko, home to perpetual bumper to bumper traffic (and no pedestrian access).

Access to the Greenpoint Bridge from either direction is via… Greenpoint avenue. Easy to find, easy to run, the Greenpoint bridge takes you through areas runners rarely go to and over one of the most polluted waterways in America. Not to be missed!

View this post on Instagram

Greenpoint bridge #irunny #running #92bridges

A post shared by Sean (@seanv2) on

Bridges Project: Madison Avenue Bridge

The Madison Avenue Bridge is probably best known as the final bridge on the New York Marathon course. I’ve run over it three times – once in 2005 during my first New York Marathon, once in training for the race this year, and once during the race this year.

Madison Avenue connects Manhattan and the Bronx, crosses the Harlem river, and is one of those rare spots where the numbered streets in Manhattan and the Bronx line up. Pedestrian access to the bridge on the Bronx side is at 138th Street just after Grand Concourse. On the manhattan side, access is gained at 138th and 5th avenue.

For a bridge, Madison Avenue is pretty flat and forgiving. And by Mile 21 when you get here, believe me, you’re happy for a flat bridge.

Here’s a picture I took facing east, looking at the Third Avenue Bridge during a training run this fall.

Bridges Project: Willis Avenue Bridge

You cross five bridges during the New York City Marathon – the Verrazano, the Pulaski, the Queensboro, the Willis Avenue, and the Madison Avenue. By the time you get to the Willis, if you’re like me, you’re hurting, but if you’ve got some sense of your surroundings left, you’ll notice it’s a pretty nice (and new!) bridge. The Willis Avenue Bridge connects Willis Ave. in the Bronx at E. 135th St. and Bruckner Blvd. with 1st Ave. in Manhattan at 125th St. It has a wide pedestrian walk way on the west side and provides excellent views of the Harlem river. I didn’t stop during the New York Marathon, but I did stop on a training run I took up there a couple of weeks before.

Entrance to the bridge from the Manhattan side is at the intersection 1st Ave and 125th. On the Bronx side, you enter the pedestrian pathway at 135th Street and Willis Avenue. This one is among the newest bridges in New York City. If you’re in upper Manhattan or the South Bronx its worth checking out, even if you’re not at Mile twenty of the New York Marathon.

More great information on the Willis Avenue Bridge can be found on Phil’s website. 

The Long Run: Two Bridges — Brooklyn & Manhattan

After a couple of weeks of not running any bridges, this Saturday I was back at it and  checked two of the lowest hanging fruit– the Manhattan and the Brooklyn — off my list.  That’s seven down, eighty-four to go.


Over the years, the Manhattan Bridge has been a staple of my running. I’ve run over it dozens of times as part of my running commute and on countless long runs.  Once, I did a back and forth on it it at nine o’clock at night to deliver a set of keys to E.  It’s my favorite of the “big four” East River bridges.*  To me, its the quintessential no nonsense New York City Bridge. Encased in fencing, it’s the ugly cousin of the majestic Brooklyn Bridge.  It doesn’t have the best views, or the nicest entrances, but if you want a no bullshit means of getting from Brooklyn to Manhattan, whether it be by train, car, bike or your own two feet, it can’t be beat.

Underneath all the Graffitti is the inscription that the Manhattan Bridge was built in 1901, making it the second youngest of the big four.

Underneath all the Graffiti is the inscription that the Manhattan Bridge was built in 1901, making it the second youngest of the big four.

For runners coming from Brooklyn, the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge is located near the corner of Jay and Sands Streets.  Take the stairs to your right, not the bike path to your left.  For runners entering from Manhattan, use the entrance on the south-east corner of Bowery and Canal.  Remember that the south walkway of the bridge is for pedestrians; the north walkway is for bikers.  Inevitably, when you’re on the bridge you’ll see someone doing this wrong – don’t be that person.

Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge as seen from the Manhattan on a perfect saturday afternoon.

Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge as seen from the Manhattan on a perfect saturday afternoon.


Saturday was such a gorgeous day, even the Manhattan was crowded with walkers, runners, and tourists setting up fancy cameras to take pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge.  I cruised along, listening to Big Krit, and taking a couple of pictures.  I exited onto Canal Street and weaved my way down through Chinatown and the courthouse area to the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge.


If it’s a gorgeous day in New York, the worst place in the City to run is the Brooklyn Bridge.  It is bumper to bumper with thousands of tourists.  Frankly, no runner belongs there. I certainly didn’t, and I tried to get it over with as quickly as possible. I weaved between families on citibikes and tourists taking selfies.  I couldn’t even bring myself to stop to take a picture.


Brooklyn Bridge on a summer's day = shit ton of people.

Brooklyn Bridge on a summer’s day = shit ton of people.

The Brooklyn Bridge is majestic, with stunning views of the city and the statute of Liberty.  If you’re visiting New York, you really should go. But its better enjoyed as a leisurely stroll than on a run.  If your dead set on running the Brooklyn Bridge, I suggest you go early. Whether you’re walking, running or biking, entrance on the Manhattan side if from City Hall Park at Centre Street. You cannot miss it.  On the Brooklyn side the main entrance is at Tillary and Adams.  There is also a less obvious entrance closer to the water at Prospect and Camdan Plaza.

I exited at Tillary and headed back past the Manhattan toward the Navy Yards.  I wanted to add a couple more miles to the day so I overshot my house, and cruised up Washington to Eastern Parkway.  It was a perfect day to be out exploring, but it was getting late and my legs were tired.  I called it a day at nine miles, went home, and put the little dude to bed. Next week is a cut back week, and I don’t think they’ll be any bridges.  But the week after than, I plan to knock another couple off the list.

Love is Patient

Love is Patient

Slowly but surely I’ll get them all. I’m not in a rush, I’m not going anywhere.


*The “big four” being the Brooklyn, the Manhattan, the Williamsburg and the Queensboro.  By the way, I just made up that designation.

The Long Run – The Park and the Bridge

I run for many reasons. To stay fit, to stay thin, to sleep at night, to have time to think, to work at the nearly impossible goal of becoming fast, and to explore.  Exploration can come in different forms. It can be exploring new trails and road, or seeing old roads in a new way.  This weekend’s long run included a bit of both new roads and time spent in familiar places.

Things began with two figure eight loops in Prospect Park.  The figure eight loop takes you down West Drive to Center Drive, across Center to East Drive, where you take a right, cruise past the lake, and up the West Drive hill, then a right back down Center Drive over the East Drive where you take a left and head up Zoo hill.  From my house and around the figure 8 is just over six miles, two of them is makes it just about ten.

The Grand Army Entrance on a perfect early spring day.

The Grand Army Entrance on a perfect early spring day.

I’ve run thousands and thousands of miles in this park — 2,858 actually, according to my running ahead log.  I’ve run through all conditions. I’ve run alone and with friends.  This weekend, it was a prefect early spring day and I did the first loop with my Saturday run buddy, Joe.  We talked about life, love, work and kids.  We talked about running, rock climbing and how fat and old we have become.  It was a great way to spend an hour.

After Joe left, I did another figure 8 alone listening to a mad decent podcast.  The roads were packed with Brooklynites running, walking and cycling.  Kids were pushing scooters; hipsters were riding long boards.  It was all “tres Brooklyn” as, allegedly, the French say.

Two loops equals ten miles.  Three more to go.  I headed down Union street through the heart of strollerfied Park Slope all the way  to the Union Street Bridge and the majestic Gowanus Canal.


The Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn’s New York’s finest superfund site has been described by the Environmental Protection Agency thus:

The Gowanus Canal, in Brooklyn, New York, is bounded by several communities including Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Red Canal was once a major transportation route for the then separate cities of Brooklyn and New York City. Manufactured gas plants, mills, tanneries, and chemical plants are among the many facilities that operated along the canal.


You can’t really read it, but there’s a sign in this photo that warns you, among other dangers, not to smoke near the water.

 As a result of years of discharges, storm water runoff, sewer outflows and industrial pollutants, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the nation’s most extensively contaminated water bodies. Contaminants include PCBs, coal tar wastes, heavy metals and volatile organics. The contamination poses a threat  to the nearby residents who use the canal for fishing and recreation.


This gorgeous piece of waterway is crossed by five bridges. Over the next couple of weeks, I plan to run them all.  In fact, inspired by Phil McCarthy’s excellent “Bridge of the Week series” I plan to spend a lot more time exploring the cities bridges. Some of theses bridges, like Union Street are old friends. Others will be new.  I’m looking forward to seeing them all.

After Union Street it was down Nevins to Dean. Its amazing how industrial Nevins still is in this area.  Seven years from now, the fabrication and demolition shops will be apartment buildings people by finance and advertising professionals, just you watch.  I’ll run the street again then, and it will be like exploring a new world.