Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Mighty Bridge

Photo by Dave Frieder

The Hell Gate Bridge is part of the New York Connecting Railroad, built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1912 to 1916, the finishing touches on what we call today the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, DC.  According to Wikipedia, the bridge is 1,017 feet long, one of the longest steel arch bridges in the world.  The famous  Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia derived its design from the Hell Gate Bridge.  It is said that is was built so strong, it could survive for nearly 1,000 years if the human race were to perish. 

The term "Hell's Gate" stems from the Dutch for "clear strait."  It was hazardous to navigation as it was the confluence of tidal currents from Long Island Sound, the Harlem River and from Upper New York Bay.  

As part of the approach to New York's Penn Station, the long approach viaduct over Randall's and Wards Islands is the first views of the skyline of Manhattan for train riders.  Today, Amtrak runs passenger trains over the bridge, including its Acela Express and Northeast Regional services.  Freight trains are operated by CSX and the Providence and Worcester Railroad. 

The bridge is a thing of beauty to engineers and others.  (All photos by the author, except as noted.)

View of the Hell Gate Bridge from the train approaching the bridge.

The massive ironwork of the arch, as seen from the rear platform of the train.
View back at the massive concrete tower framing the Astoria, Queens end of the span.
Same view back in  August 25, 1963, showing a New Haven Railroad freight train crossing the bridge.  Photo by Paul Yurko.

High above Astoria, Queens, on the long approach viaduct and descending towards Penn Station in Manhattan.  To the left, the parallel suspension bridge section of the Triborough Bridge is visible.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Late Autumn Bike Ride

It seems we had peak foliage here in Boston and environs around Halloween.  After a muted start in September, late October found us with increasingly bright foliage as the weeks progressed.  As I was traveling a lot out of town, I would really notice the difference each time I returned home.

Now a week later, we have passed through the golden peak and are starting to see the deep hues of After the Peak.  On the brilliant sunny morning, I took a bike ride through our fair city of Cambridge and out to Watertown, returning along the bike path along the Charles River.  (At right and above is a small lagoon off the Charles River in Brighton.)

Soon the leaves will be gone and the dull season of Bare Trees will be with us.  My mother always said it was the saddest time of the year, after the colors of fall are gone and before the first snow.  We fill up the season of Bare Trees with holidays and holiday lights, fighting off the sad feeling of this time of scarce daylight.  But for one glorious sunny day, we still have the colors of autumn.

Along the bike path back from Watertown to Cambridge
The Charles River between Brighton and Cambridge
The Charles River runs through the Harvard University Campus

The river houses of Harvard University along Memorial Drive, which is closed to traffic for Sundays.

Fall in Cambridge

Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Fall Day in the Park

The last day of October, or Halloween as some celebrate it, was a cloudless sunny day.  Having to catch up on some work, I headed in to town on the Red Line, deciding to get off at Charles to walk down the namesake street and through Boston's Public Garden.  

Any day or season, the Public Garden is most photogenic, with many vistas contrasting the urban fabric with the horticultural variety that is this park.  The Garden marks the transition from glacially-deposited drumlin called Beacon Hill to the filled land we call the Back Bay.  The park and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, which share the same east-west axis of symmetry, reflect European urban design in contrast to the rather random layout of that part of Boston built on solid land.

The park is centered on a main lagoon, crossed by a decorative pedestrian bridge.  Spring through early fall, the famous swan boats take tourists on a lap around the lagoon, often followed by a small armada of ducks, hopeful for tasty tidbits tossed their way by children and even adults.

Today's walk through the park made the going to work on Saturday a not-so-bad experience.

A view of a lawn in the Public Garden

A view of the Hancock Tower and the Taj behind the park and lagoon

The spire of the original Hancock Tower and its new sister are reflected in the lagoon

A view down Newbury Street, and the spire of the Church of the Covenant
Color along the banks of the lagoon
A cloudless bright blue sky reflected in the lagoon.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Spring in Mt. Auburn

Today was a beautiful, sunny spring day, which finally started feeling like spring was finally here.  After the long, cold winter, the trees are a little late in budding and flowering.

I took a walk through the beautiful landscapes of the Mt. Auburn Cemetery, here in my home town of Cambridge.  Some of the photos I took are in a reflective blog post.  But there were so many wonderful vista that I decided to post some more of them here.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Flowering and the Budding

It's theoretically spring here in the Boston area after a particularly brutal winter of bleak frostiness.  So there is hope, even if the temperature is only in the 50s (F) or about 10-13 deg. C.  Semi-brrrrrr weather in the morning.

We're a couple of weeks late this year, but finally trees are flowering and budding.  The Flowering and the Budding are micro-seasons within the Spring, that precede the Leafing Out.

The beauty of spring is before our eyes, even if the air temperature isn't reinforcing our sensory perception.  But with the cool temperatures, it's hard to get into my "I'm in love with spring!" mood.

But if I get out on my bicycle and ride for 3 or 4 miles, I warm up enough to sort of enjoy the sights.  And the brightness of forsythia flowers translates into happy feelings within me.  

Here's a smattering of the signs of hope in our fair city of Cambridge (and one across the river in Brighton).

Blue flowering groundcover brightens the brown litter of leaves from last fall.
I love the contrast of the pink flowers against the blue sky.
While flowering tree towering over an historic property, just off Tory Row (aka, Brattle Street).

The Budding, a week or two before the Leafing Out, differs in timing depending on species and microclimate, where warmer and more sheltered locations leading the trend.  By mid-May, the Leafing Out will be complete.
The Budding on a privet hedge.
One view outside Cambridge shows the Budding of brush and trees on the banks of a small channel off the Charles River in Brighton.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Bleak Midwinter and a Walk Around the Pond at Dusk

Our nearly snow-less winter continues.  However, that has not meant that the cold hasn't invaded our fair city (Cambridge, MA).  The Charles River is frozen.  And so is Fresh Pond.

The bleak midwinter without snow is especially bleak.  The cold keeps one from lingering and there is little to see in the snowless, barren landscape.  Hope is hard to find.

Today is the celebration of Martin Luther King, the holiday to honor the vision and hope he brought to the struggle for equal rights and equal recognition.  There was the usual services, inspirational speeches and, this year, a demonstration in Boston.  Time has past, but the hoped for vision is not fully realized.  At times, we're still two nations, not fully understanding each other.  At times, we're still in the bleak midwinter of relations and understanding.

Back in Cambridge at the end of the day, the three of us took a brisk walk around Fresh Pond in the gathering darkness of the dusk of a bleak, but snow-less, mid-winter's day.  It was cold.  But if you keep moving, it was ok.

In the bleak midwinter, hope can be found if you keep moving ahead.

The setting sun casts its orange light on the Ringe Towers trio across the frozen pond.

Dusk in the west beyond the hill of Kingsley Park.

The abandoned track of the Watertown Branch of the once Boston & Maine Railroad passes the west side of the pond.

Little Fresh Pond is frozen over.  In warmer weather, it is a favorite spot for dogs to take a quick swim.

The last light of the day reflects off the ice.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Saturday in the Park in a Snowless Winter

Often by Christmas or New Year, here in New England, we would have snow on the ground, or at least frozen ponds.  However, this Christmas was relatively warm, having followed weeks of warm yet cloudless days. No snow or frozen ponds. Finally, on Christmas afternoon, the sun came out.  We took a brisk walk by Pleasure Bay.   

Today, though Saturday, I was heading to my office.  If I get off the train at Charles Street, I have the opportunity to pass through the park on my way.   In the morning sun, the Public Garden proved quite photogenic, even with bare trees, no snow, and an unfrozen lagoon.

That is perhaps the most wonderful aspect of this park - that it remains beautiful in any season!  Here are some photos of a Saturday in the Park, on a snowless winter's day.

Entering the park from Charles Street

The bare willows, weeping gracefully

Duck taking the ramp up to the island in the lagoon

Looking over the lagoon