You’ll find access to it along the East River Esplanade at 103rd Street; if you’re approaching from the south, you may think it appears magically out of nowhere, just when you’ve begun to doubt you’ll never make it to Randall’s Island in time for the first set, there it is, quietly loping over the Harlem River to connect Manhattan to the serene parkland at Wards and Randalls Island. There are no cars, no tolls, no hassles; just low-carbon global citizens, strolling or walking their bikes leisurely toward a Good Time.
The bridge, designed by Swiss immigrant Othmar Hermann Ammann and built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, opened to the public in 1951. (Its middle section can be raised for passing ships.) Access was severely limited in the ’80s, and for three decades remained off limits for five months out of the year, much to the consternation of local residents. The DOT spent about $15 million renovating it between 2010 and 2012, and it finally reopened in 2012, year-round and 24/7. So get out and enjoy it this summer at one of the many festivals on Randalls Island.
“In bridge designing, the aesthetics are quite as important as engineering details,” Ammann once wrote. “It is a crime to build an ugly bridge.” The producers of The Wiz agreed—it was partially covered in yellow vinyl for a yellow brick road cameo in Sidney Lumet’s 1978 musical starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross.
In an interview with Don Cornelius, Michael speaks about how hard it was to dance going up hill for the scene.
Who is allowed on this bridge: pedestrians only (you’re supposed to walk your bike).
Sources: Gothamist | All Things Michael