East River from Hellsgate Field

Mill Rock Island

Mill Rock Island, originally two smaller islands, lies about 1,000 feet off the eastern edge of 96th Street in the East River. In 1664 William Hallet bought the two islands, but apparently never occupied them. Sometime between 1701 and 1707, John Marsh is believed to have built a tidal mill on one of them, which may explain how Mill Rock got its name.

east river 1775

On October 10, 1885, the largest planned explosion prior to the atomic bomb annihilated Flood Rock, a nine acre obstacle that had long frustrated East River ship traffic. 300,000 pounds of explosives were detonated, and shocks from the concussion were felt as far away as Princeton, New Jersey. In 1890, rock fill from the blast was used to close the gap between the two islands.  In 1953, the federal government sold the island to the Parks Department.

                        images from Harper’s and NYPL

Roosevelt Island

Blackwell Island, which is now known as Roosevelt Island, was purchased by New York City in 1828. At various time the island was home to a penitentiary, almshouse, a smallpox hospital and the New York Lunatic Asylum. The lighthouse, on the northern tip, was built in 1872.

RFK and Hellsgate Bridge

Hellsgate Bridge was built in 1916 as a way to link New York and  Pennsylvania Railroad with New England and the New Haven Railroad.

It was the world’s longest steel arch bridge until the Bayonne Bridge was opened in 1931, and was surpassed again by the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932.
In 1996, the bridge got its first comprehensive paint job in 80 years, it was painted “Hell Gate Red”

Asphalt Green and the 96 St. pier from Hellsgate Field


About Denise P. Puchol

Always carrying a pocket camera to photograph random spots throughout the five boroughs of New York City and to share a little of the history.
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