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GES192 - Hell Gate Bridge, NYC

On returning to NYC from upstate, I had a couple of ideas about potential targets. One I was keen to do was the Hellgate Bridge. I'd seen others do it, and even people shooting women in various states of undress there. So I wasn't expecting it to be too difficult. I rolled up in the middle of the night to try my luck.

This is the bridge in question, as one can see, it's propped up on piers high above the ground (they were kept smooth due to fears of inmates at the asylum that used to be here escaping. This presents something of a challenge, but with a bit of research, it was soon time to try to gain access and test the theory. As one might expect for a large city containing explorer types, I found a hole set up in a fence to aid me. The bridge itself was built in 1916, and for 15 years was the world's longest steel arch bridge. The bridge originally had a functionary name, but became known after the section of the East River it crosses, the Hell Gate. It comes from the original dutch name, hellegat. The stretch is treacherous due to huge drops and channels on the bottom. At some points a 60ft drop occurs within a few feet.

It wasn't long before I was running along the tracks, crapping myself. At any moment a train could come by, or I might be seen from one of the apartment windows that look onto the tracks. At one point I went past a subway station all lit up. I tried to make myself small, but I was only kidding myself. After what seemed like an age, I saw the bridge appearing around the curve. At this point the tracks only had a sheer drop on either side, so absolutely nowhere to hide. I was now jogging at a fair rate, and was glad to reach the structure. I tucked myself into the first alcove I came to and took a rest.

Leaning over the bridge looking north, the huge George Washington bridge off on the left lit up, and the huge Edison Power Plant with lit up chimneys on the right bank of the hell gate.

Looking East back the way i'd come into Astoria, Queens. As you can see, there's nowhere to really hide. I still had to go back, so was dreading that.

Two trains did cross the bridge while I was there. One was heading East (towards the camera), and I captured it.

I don't like to show similar pics, but rather liked the fisheye shot below. Manhattan in the background. Either side of the top of the bridge, one can see two rails, this is an engineers walkway. It sat teasing me, but it wasn't possible to get out there sadly.

Looking across to the RFK bridge, and the famous Manhattan skyline. The building with the bright light on top is the Empire State, the bright topped one below it is the Chrysler.

Backlighting is not my forte, but this is the top of the Eastern tower. A popular spot for taggers it would appear.

Back inside the bridge, the spiral staircase to the top of the bridge. Beyond is the arch of the bridge, which trains pass under.

Another shot of the spiral staircase going up into the top of the bridge, seen from lower down on the arch.

Looking West across the bridge. Only two tracks are electrified, on the left. One of the right hand tracks is missing, as it was no longer needed. I do love the prevalence of iron and in this case, steel girders all over the city.

A fisheye looking south to the RFK bridge.

Another fisheye shot that looked ok on the cameras lcd screen, but sadly not when i got back.

As can be seen here in the background, dawn was already breaking. And it was sadly time to leave. Looking West.

Track back, the unpleasant run back to safety. Running on the tracks either involved running on the rather noisy loose stone ballast, or running at set length steps on the track sleepers. It seemed quicker to get back, and I was exhausted.

If things pan out, it would be good to go back. For now it remains one of my favourite NYC bridges.


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