TRANSPORTATION IS AN ISSUE IN EL BARRIO
(Photo) Daby B. Carreras
Transportation is one of the many issues that Daby is concerned about for Spanish Harlem. It’s a bit personal; he rides the 4 train down to work.
Recently, after over 100 years of discussion, the Second Avenue line is open, running between East 72nd to East 96th Streets. A similar line ran for a much longer distance, serving Harlem, but was demolished in the 1940s in anticipation of a subway. Inept city governments have left Harlem without a 2nd Ave line, and quite possibly will continue along this track of much talk and no action.
Subways, which are expensive to build and maintain, need not be the only mode of transport for this riverside district. Long before subways, which made their appearance in New York in 1904 with the Times Square Station, ferries carried New Yorkers around. Then came bridges, and ferries
were in less demand.
Bridges connect people well downtown and further uptown; the Manhattan, Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridges, along with a number of subways, take people from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
Uptown, a number of smaller bridges link Manhattan to the Bronx. But Spanish Harlem residents must travel longer distances to get across to the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn; or to Roosevelt, Ward and Randall’s Islands.
Movement by water, as ideal and idyllic as it is, goes on all the time. Wheels of steel and bridges of steel, however useful they are in many ways, ought not to be the only options.
The Staten Island ferry, which I have taken many times to see falconry events in Clove Lake Park, is a wonderful experience that I recommend to anyone. Especially those who enjoy free rides.
Other ferries also run, including one to New Jersey that has a dock at West 39th Street. And of course, passing the Spanish Harlem shoreline, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation runs a line that ships passengers from Soundview in the Bronx, to East 90th, East 34th and Wall Streets in Manhattan.
RIOC also manages other lines, including one from Roosevelt Island on its east side.
But none of this serves the constituents of Spanish Harlem, many of whom work on Roosevelt Island.
The two mile stretch that is the maritime border of Daby’s hood gets passed up by the ferry which transports people, and, for an extra fee of $1, their bicycles.
It is evident that a stop in Spanish Harlem would be of great use.
And not just logistically, but for the sheer pleasure of it as well. Which brings to mind the possibility of other ferry lines stopping in Spanish Harlem to bring its residents to Roosevelt, Island, Queens and Brooklyn, saving them much time and allowing them a healthier ride. A ferry port in the district would help much to improve tourism, which other parts of the city get so much of, but which industry neglects Spanish Harlem.
None of this appears to be on the minds of the politicians in power now, who are content to wait for the 2nd Avenue extension to be built up to 125th Street. Which may or may not happen, and which may take another century.
Rather than wait, this November elect Daby Carreras to go to Albany to take on this issue and others that need attention for the residents of Spanish Harlem.