And in March, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a $3.3 billion plan to invest in revamping even more of the city’s shorelines.
Adler appreciates the new parks, but his slightly buck-the-rules spirit remains. As we round the tip of Manhattan, we come to the Henry Hudson Bridge, which leads to the Bronx. Once again, though, the pedestrian access ramp is blocked, this time by a bright orange “Work Zone, No Access” sign. Adler considers it for a moment, then says, “It’s Sunday, no one’s working.” We continue over the bridge without incident and wander through Riverdale, a leafy, suburban-feeling section of the Bronx, before heading back to Manhattan.
Three weeks later — after my blisters have healed — I return to New York ready for another walk, this time along an “interior shore” of sorts: three lakes in Kissena and Flushing Meadows Corona parks in Queens. Walk leader Rachel Donner, a retired librarian and teacher, starts our trek with a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” that evokes the area’s not-so-illustrious past as a cinder dump: “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens.”
The park is more pleasant these days, with two lakes ringed by reeds and acres of playing fields. And although it’s not as beautiful as the northern Manhattan walk, it’s equally interesting. Flushing Meadows was the site of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, and our route winds us past some iconic remnants of those events — a giant steel globe and the skeleton of the New York State pavilion, where teenagers now skateboard nearby.
In Kissena Park next door, we walk past another lake, New York’s only velodrome and a huge and thriving community garden where the signs, catering to the local populace, are mostly in Chinese. More than six miles later, we emerge hungry and tired onto Main Street in Flushing, Queens — the center of one of New York’s largest Chinatowns — where Donner leads us to her favorite dim sum restaurant for a restorative late lunch.
It seems like the perfect end to a New York weekend, but before I leave, I have one more task. This time, I decide, I’m going to make it over the George Washington Bridge. So the next morning I take the subway back to 178th street and, happily, find the pedestrian pathway open for business.
It is, as Adler promised, a wonderful walk. Standing in the middle of the nearly mile-long span, I can see the skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan in the distance, dwarfed by the expanse of the river and the rocky Palisades. It’s a beautiful sight, and although I’m sure that the next time I see it will be at 60 mph, I’m glad that I took the time to look at three mph this once.
New York City’s shorelines: Where to go, what to do, where to stay, where to eat
Winerman is a freelance writer in Alexandria.