The Harlem River: "New York's Forgotten Waterfront"

July 24th, 2009 -

A forgotten two mile stretch of Manhattan waterfront property sits at the edge of industrial Inwood. Mostly hidden from sight behind chainlink fences and razorwire, this section of the Harlem River is surprisingly accessible. From the Broadway Bridge to Swindler Cove, the riverbanks are riddled with hidden beaches, pocket parks, fishing holes, crumbling piers. forgotten inlets, and abandoned boathouses. These hidden spaces border a maze of MTA railyards, Sanitation buildings and bus depots.

The Harlem River tidal straight connects the Hudson River and the East River. Eight miles long, it is spanned by 15 bridges, most of which connect Manhattan to the Bronx. Its waters are navigated by New York's famed Circle Line and are bordered by busy transportation routes like the Harlem River Drive, the Major Deegan Expressway and the Metro-North Railway.

Yet despite supporting this huge amount of daily traffic, the Harlem River was dubbed "New York’s Forgotten Waterfront” by the Columbia University historic preservation program. Their 2004 report states that "while the Hudson and East Rivers are commonly recognized for the grandeur of their scenery and structures, the Harlem River figures less prominently in the collective consciousness of New Yorkers." The report goes on say that "as other parts of Manhattan’s waterfront become increasingly homogenized... The Harlem River... remains a heterogeneous stretch of old industrial buildings, parks infrastructure and residential developments."

For other photos from this expedition, visit The Vacant Beat and Something Found.

Broadway Bridge Fishing Hole

Dead End Street

Fisherman's Perch

University Heights Bridge Mattress

Umbrella Pit

Boathouse Ruins

Abandoned Pier and Boathouse


Shelves and Cove

Empty Bar and Restaurant

Cutty Sark

Tiki Bar

Sailing Ship

1 comment:

  1. Nathan,

    It the middle of a black/hispanic community was aboat club, last vestiages disappeared in the early 70's.

    Great pics.