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.

Mike, The Knife Sharpener

Good morning and Happy Thanksgiving! Mike the knife sharpener is on his way to East 129th St between Madison & 5th, and should be here around 9:15-9:30. Jennifer will send out notice when he’s here, but wanted to give notice that he’s on his way!

Midnight Cowboy

The 1969 film Midnight Cowboy was celebrated for it’s gritty New York City street scenes. However, like every film of its day, some of the filming took place in a sound studio. And, in this case, in a sound studio on 2nd Avenue at East 127th Street.

In the film Joe Buck (Jon Voight) and Ratzo Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) were not only filmed in the sound studio in East Harlem, but they even faked going over the Queensboro Bridge by substituting the nearby Wills Avenue Bridge.

Note that the bridge pictured in the 1969 film was replaced, and so the merged image below shows a pre-replacement part of the span.

In the film, right after the tenement in which they are squatting is demolished, they walk to a cemetery in Queens to see Rizzo’s father’s grave. In the film it seems they go over the 59th Street Bridge, but if this picture represents the real bridge they went over, they went WAY out of their way. ( This bridge was near where they did interior filming: Filmways Studios at 246 East 127th Street, in East Harlem.)

For more on the film, see: https://www.popspotsnyc.com/iconic_new_york_city_film_locations/