City Island is a treasure. At the very eastern edge of the New York, it is just one and a half miles long and a half mile wide with a population of about 4300; technically part of the Bronx and served by subway and bus service, it is an island both literally and figuratively. The first impression is a place that needs some sprucing up and some TLC, but that’s before looking deeper and getting a sense of the community. It’s a working-class enclave that celebrates its obvious diversity with plenty of ethnic restaurants and a wide variety of music heard inside restaurants and bars, as well as on the streets and on the docks. Being an island, it is ringed with waterfront property – but 95% of the waterfront homes are not mansions or are even particularly large homes, but instead are modest, working-class homes. And the people couldn’t be more friendly and accommodating.
In 1819, the inhabitants of the island narrowly voted to become a part of New York City in exchange for the city building a new bridge to the mainland. But local customs stuck – according to local tradition, anyone born on the island is known as a “clamdigger”, whereas a resident who was not born on the island is a “musselsucker”.
Here are some photos from City Island:
We spent a couple of days in City Island to let some nasty weather pass by, and we used the opportunity to take the subway into Manhattan to visit friends. On Sunday, we made the epic run though the East River and Hell’s Gate into New York Harbor. We were fortunate to have a large contingent to join us for this special part of the journey – my sister Kate, her partner Michael, two of her friends (now actually friends of the family) Anna and Virginia, my college roommate and business partner Dave Luciano, his wife Joan, and some of their family – Christine, Dan, Dan’s wife Nicole, and their two children Frita (3 1/2) and Remy (8 months).
Hell’s Gate is notorious for treacherous water unless the conditions are just right, so we timed our departure from City Island to coincide with slack current turning ebb, and we were fortunate to have a beautiful day with no wind. Here are some images from our trip into New York Harbor:
We left NY Harbor on Monday morning, after picking up the Luciano clan at a dock near the World Trade Center to start our run up the Hudson River. The Hudson is a spectacularly beautiful river with constantly changing scenery. Technically, it’s not really a river until Troy, a bit north of Albany. 13,000 years ago, the last glacier gouged out the riverbed to below sea level, changing it into a tidal estuary. The native’s name for the river means “river that flows both ways”, since the tides actually change the direction of flow in the river four times each day all the way up to Troy. Henry Hudson, when looking for the elusive Northwest Passage, went nearly all the way to where Albany is now, surmising that it must connect to another ocean because of the tidal flow and brackish water most of the way, before he turned around. Since he could only sail in the narrow river when the wind happened to be directly behind him, the crew would row upriver when the current was flowing in that direction, then anchor and wait for the favorable tied when the current reversed. A great book about Henry Hudson and his voyages of discovery that I highly recommend is “Half Moon – Henry Hudson and the Voyage that Redrew the Map of the New World” by Douglas Hunter.
Some images from our journey up the Hudson:
Our first stop on our way up the Hudson was Ossining, the home of Sing Sing prison. The Luciano clan debarked for the train in Ossining to take them back to the city – it was such a pleasure having them aboard! A bicycle tour through Ossining revealed a city reeling from economic decline as it struggles to re-birth itself. However, there is a beautiful riverfront park through which Jim and I took a long bike ride. After our obligatory ice cream cone, we happened upon a hawk along the trail that had just taken a rabbit for its afternoon meal. It seemed to have difficulty taking off with the weight of the dead rabbit, but it wasn’t about to abandon it either. Here is a close-up image that I managed to capture:
Our next stop was Poughkeepsie. A bike ride through the city confirmed that it is also struggling to reverse a half century of economic decline. A bright spot, however, is the recent conversion of the historic railroad bridge into a thriving pedestrian attraction:
Our next stop on our way north was a town called New Baltimore. On our way, we encountered our first major storm while underway. Very heavy rain was accompanied by thunder and lightning. We have a full canvass and flexible-glass enclosure on the bridge, so we stayed dry, but the storm certainly got our attention! The rain had stopped by the time we arrived around mid-afternoon, but the village was a long uphill ride and the weather was threatening, so we didn’t get to do our usual exploring by bike. However, the marina had a free courtesy car, so Jim drove to the supermarket to re-provision. The break gave us a chance to catch up on laundry as well.
When cruising, damage to the propellers or other underwater components is aways a threat. We had met the couple aboard “Compass Rose” in New York; when we encountered them at New Baltimore, we learned that they were experiencing a mild vibration when underway. As a result, they had their boat hauled to check their running gear:
We arrived in Troy on Thursday afternoon, which marks the end of our trip up the free-flowing Hudson River. On Friday, we’ll pass through our first lock; known as the Federal Lock, it’s the only lock on the Hudson River or the Erie Canal that’s operated by the federal government rather than New York State. We learned that it only opened in early May after being closed for two years during Covid. As a result, we were advised to get fuel if we need it prior to going through the Federal Lock since outlets on the other side were able to sell very little fuel for two years – therefore, the fuel in their tanks could be contaminated with water of bio-growth. We therefore filled both tanks in Troy.
The next chapter of our journey begins on the other side of the lock!
As always, I welcome any feedback you might have!!
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