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Ride the Riverside
by 02mfn, Feb 29, 2012

In the middle of Manhattan it’s easy to forget New York’s island geography.  Luckily the city is littered with not-so-subtle reminders including ferry lines, a network of world famous bridges (which we will get to), and miles of waterfront property.  Today we’re going to take a short ride down the Hudson River Greenway and explore a few of the premiere sights along the way.  This gorgeous, flat 12 mile stretch runs all the way from Inwood to Battery Park.

You can’t beat the view of the GWB and mighty Hudson River from this abandoned bathroom portico

There are plenty of restrooms, benches and water fountains scattered from start to finish making this an easily manageable ride for any rider.

Tours of the Little Red Lighthouse are available during the warmer months

Starting from the spiral staircase at the top of Dyckman Street and heading south, the first notable structure is an antique portico overlooking the river.  This is the last in an original series of six public restrooms spaced along Riverside Park.  Designed by the Vaux/Olmstead duo (best known for the creation of Central and Prospect Parks), only 4 remain today.  The first in the series sits next to Grant’s Tomb and has been restored by the National Park Service.  The other two are hidden amongst the foliage somewhere between numbers one and six.

This bike lane beneath the Riverside viaduct leads straight to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que… yumm

You can’t miss the George Washington Bridge as you whiz down the steep, winding hill running below the mammoth structure.  At the foot of its New York tower, you’ll notice Jeffrey’s Hook “Little Red” Lighthouse in the shadow of the “Great Gray Bridge.”  Both names harken back to the Hildegarde H. Swift’s childrens book which tells the tale of a Little Red Lighthouse who still finds a purpose even when standing next to such a gargantuan structure.  Public support generated by this book saved the lighthouse from demolition after its deactivation in 1947.

Continuing south, the path will take you past a number of tennis and basketball courts.  The trail briefly

meets with 125th Street at Fairway Market beneath the elegant Riverside Viaduct.  A remnant of the City Beautiful movement at the turn of the 20th century, the steel span runs for eight blocks with a grand river view from the deck and a majestically repetitious perspective from below.  Be sure to take a peak and maybe ride beneath the viaduct before jumping back onto the greenway.

Moving on, you’ll pass tons of boats bobbing up and down against docks along the river’s edge.  Adjacent to the boats, is the Boat Basin Café.  Between this sit-down venue and popup food stands, there are a few different varieties of restaurants available to refuel along the route.

This picture of the transfer bridge was taken before the reconstruction began

Where the bike path splits from the walking trail (and passes the Bike and Roll hub), you’ll notice the old 69th street transfer bridge in the water on your right.  Its corroded superstructure is a marvelous display of gears and pulleys, at one time all working in tandem to allow train car passage onto floats crossing the Hudson.  Currently, the bridge is being rehabilitated into a pedestrian promenade.

Now a floating museum, the Intrepid loaded with tons of historic aircraft

Continuing south you may catch a glimpse of a mammoth cruise ship before the U.S.S. Intrepid comes into view.  Now a museum, this awesome aircraft carrier served in World War II and later as an antisubmarine platform during the Cold War.  It also served as the recovery vessel for one of NASA’s Mercury space missions and the first manned Gemini capsule.

We’re going to stop here for today and pick up the rest of the trail later on.  With the weather getting

warmer you don’t have to wait for the next post!  Take the ride for yourself and see what’s in store on the lower half of the trail!  If you are traveling this route during peak hours though, be advised that the path is very popular, especially during the warmer seasons.  Be sure to use both hand and verbal signals in conjunction with your bell to let people know where you’re heading and when.

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