Randall’s and Wards’ Islands

This photo of Randall’s and Wards’ Islands during the depression (just after the Triborough Bridge was completed by Robert Moses) is fascinating in the ways in which you can see how dramatically the bridge, the island/s, and Harlem have changed in the last 80 years or so.

Note how recently constructed Astoria park (between the arched train bridge and the car bridge on the right hand side) is so new there are no trees and seemingly no grass – just the white reflection of bulldozed dirt.

Above you can see (at the bottom right) the new sewage disposal facility – state of the art in the 1930s, and still the place where everything you flush goes today in 2021.

Also (still in the photo above) note how distinctly Wards Island (below) and Randall’s Island (above) are separated. The 3rd island (top right) is now also joined to the other two, and the fill was leveled to create a series of sports fields and a tennis center.

In the blurry photo above, you can see how the Harlem waterfront (on the East River) had a number of working docks. Also the scraped dirt (white) area in the middle of the photo with a running track, is Jefferson Park – a park created by Moses by bulldozing a number of city blocks – mostly filled with East Harlem Italian residents.

In the photo above – showing the Triborough from 125th Street to Randall’s Island, note just above it, the swing-gate for the Willis Avenue bridge is open to boat traffic, and just above that (black and admittedly blurry) is the 2nd Avenue El, headed from Manhattan, over the Harlem River, and into the Bronx.

The Stadium (above) is where Jesse Owens qualified for the Berlin Olympics, and is now the Icahn Stadium and the site of numerous music festivals.

Lastly, take a look at the traffic on the vehicular bridge. Amazing.

Thoughts or comments on this post?