WEST SIDE HIGHWAY POSTS, Riverside Park

A couple of remaining original West Side Highway lamp stanchions can still be spotted on a cutoff elevated portion of the existing elevated highway, just south of West 72nd Street where it changes its name to the Henry Hudson Parkway. The old WSH, also known as the (Julius) Miller Highway for the Manhattan borough president from 1922-1930 and champion of the elevated roadway, was built in stages between 1929 and 1951. It contained many archaisms such as central entrance/exit ramps and Belgian blocked roadways. The city failed to maintain it and it partially collapsed in 1973, whereupon the city closed most of the elevated portion, which was mostly razed in the 1980s.

 

The original lamps were magnificent creations. They were zigguratted in imitation of setbacked NYC skyscrapers. The early 1930s is known as the Machine Age and was a back to basics era, jettisoning the ornamentation of the Beaux Arts period, dispensing with the elaborate metal scrollwork seen on Bishop Crooks and Corvingtons of the era. There used to be thousands of these posts, almost all of which were Twins. Note the decorative use of exposed rivets. Many were replaced by Donald Deskey posts toward the end of the highway’s use.

Unusually these Twins are positioned on the edge of a ramp and one side illuminated a roadway, and the other thin air. Perhaps there was originally another side of the roadway on the ramp at one time. 

A couple of these posts, sans mastarms, can also be found on the Cropsey Avenue Bridge over Coney Island Creek.

 

The extant section looks like this when viewed from Riverside Park. The apartment complex known as Trump Place can be seen in the background.

I do not know why the section was retained, but it’s possibly necessary for structural integrity of the existing elevated highway.

 

The disused ramp looks like this when you are traveling south on the Henry Hudson Parkway.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”

7/13/18


6 Responses to WEST SIDE HIGHWAY POSTS, Riverside Park

  1. Ty says:

    I think is this is at the ghost exit that would drop you into the abyss if I’m not mistaken.

  2. ronald s says:

    Leaving the structure for support may be similar to leaving some of the Queensborough Plaza older el structure up. You can see some of the former dual operation tracks and some tracks/support from the second avenue el as well.

  3. Dennis says:

    Why wasn’t the entire elevated structure rebuilt? I don’t understand the reason for an at grade Boulevard with intersections & traffic lights to slow up traffic when there once was a limited access route. Also why was this section kept?

    • Bob G says:

      I believe the highway was built to take thru traffic away from the busy North River piers. By 1973 the piers were just about abandoned by shipping. Also, the city was broke.

  4. Tony Manzo says:

    Too bad the elevated section to lower manhattan was in such bad shape, that would be a better high line than the reclaimed rr trestle in use now.

  5. Michael Haggerty says:

    It was interesting to play softball on that field. As a left handed pull hitter, I couldn’t help but hit balls onto to the rail tracks or up on the highway. Reward for hitting the ball on the highway was having to go retrieve the ball in traffic.

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