11th St: The East Bank, or Paradise Lost (East River Park to Ave C)

1 – Through the forest, a light. Paradise – Bohemian Williamsburg – beckons just beyond.

The East Bank is really the East River Park, built on landfill and former docks in the 1930s. It is inaccessible from 11th Street, as the latter is cut off violently by FDR Drive. To access the park, an oasis of tranquility with gorgeous views towards bohemian Williamsburg and the Giger-esque Williamsburg Bridge, one must take a detour onto 10th Street, and clamber across a pedestrian bridge placed awkwardly across the Drive.

It follows that leaving the Park for the madness of FDR Drive and the starkness of Jacob Riis Houses (1949) – a public housing project looming between Avenues D and C – feels a bit like losing Paradise, particularly as the difference in landscapes is so stark within this small area, and lamentable effort is involved trying to get across the busy highway. One might as well have been cast out of Heaven.

Incidentally, the path away from Paradise leads through a pedestrian walkway that extends for two blocks, and is graced by a continuous row of leafy shade trees – small consolation for an epic loss.

2 – Cast beyond the open gates of heaven: the footbridge across FDR Drive.

3 – The gates of heaven lie just beyond the Blue Door. In the foreground: Jacob Riis Houses.

4 – Hurtling further and further away from the Blue Door. View through the Dry Dock Park.

5 – A faceless high-rise at 170 Avenue C. Paradise irrevocably Lost.

A – East Bank

PDF: A – The East Bank or Paradise Lost (East River Park to Ave C) (1.6 MB)

I am indebted to New York Songlines (www.nysongliness.com) for detailed information about the landmarks on this street.

About Kennie Ting

I am a wandering cityophile and pattern-finder who is pathologically incapable of staying in one place for any long period of time. When I do, I see the place from different perspectives, obsessive-compulsively.
This entry was posted in Art & Architecture, Landmarks & History, New York, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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