Underneath The Manhattan Bridge
May 15, 2019 11:46 AM   Subscribe

Bridges like the Manhattan Bridge in NYC have distinct spaces underneath structural elements of the bridge as the roadway rises up to cross the East River. These 'underneath the bridge' spaces are used for parks, shopping, city storage, roads etc. You can find a fair amount of information online about the bridges themselves, but nothing about how these underneath spaces were planned for, or evolved naturally. Any suggestions on where I can find more information?
posted by extrabox to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Most of these spaces weren't really planned for (at least in any comprehensive way). Their uses have really been really a hodgepodge of historic decisions, mixed jurisdictions, and the particular constraints of the infrastructure itself.

The Design Trust for Public Space in New York has a long running project called "Under the Elevated" - the publication costs money, but here's a slideshare. It's more about discussing the options, challenges, etc. for better integrating spaces below elevated infrastructure, but there's a bit of history and context as well.
posted by voiceofreason at 11:57 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]

Not sure if you're looking for info about only Manhattan Bridge, but here's a short history about Cathedral Park under the St Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon. It's a beautiful space that was created 40-50 years after the bridge was erected. (It's hard to fathom why they used such artistic supports and didn't intend for the space to be used. Such 'wasteful' things would never be allowed today.)
posted by hydra77 at 12:07 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]

I haven't walked by it in years, but there used to be a niceish restaurant nestled under the 59th St. Bridge. (Which no one will ever call the Ed Koch.)
posted by LizardBreath at 12:28 PM on May 15

To clarify - I am primarily interested in the Manhattan Bridge, secondarily the Brooklyn and Williamsburg Bridge, and third, the remaining elevated train lines in NYC. voiceofreason, that's a great resource, just the kind of thing I'm looking for.
posted by extrabox at 12:41 PM on May 15

I was just walking under the Brooklyn Bridge last week. It, or at least the visible portion, is nothing but roads (not following the line of the bridge, but traversing it), and maybe a small amount of parking. Not a pleasant walk for a pedestrian, nowhere anyone would spend time. I doubt it was planned at all. It reeks of the Robert Moses approach to city life, even though the BB was built before his time.
posted by praemunire at 1:00 PM on May 15

You want the Manhattan Bridge, but I bet a lot more has been written about the evolution of DUMBO that would lead you to more leads on the originating processes for these spaces in general.
posted by rhizome at 1:14 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]

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