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