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Finishing up the Soundview ferry trip.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYC Ferry Soundview line trip I’ve been describing all week, which started at Pier 11/Wall Street and then proceeded northwards along the East River to stops at first 34th, and then 90th street, before heading into the narrows at Hells Gate and Bowery Bay. The route actually gets you fairly close to two of the most difficult to reach islands in NY Harbor, the Brothers (North and South). Setting foot on either island is forbidden, as they’re both bird sanctuaries. Saying that, I’ve been on South Brother in the past, having gone there with the NY Audubon Society. North Brother is pictured above, and it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to get to, despite the legendary number of ticks and other hazards which its meant to provide a home to.

North Brother is about 20 acres in size, and is owned and operated by the NYC Parks Dept.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That building is the mortal remain of Riverside Hospital, which relocated itself from Welfare Roosevelt Island in 1885. Riverside specialized in quarantine illnesses like smallpox and tuberculosis, and it’s where Typhoid Mary was imprisoned for over twenty years. Mary, whose real name was Mary Mallon, died on North Brother in 1938. In 1904, North Brother was where the General Slocum disaster came to an end, with the boat beaching onto its shores and where the bodies of over 1,000 of the disasters victims washed up. Riverside continued on through the middle to late 20th century, during the 1950’s and early 60’s, it was an adolescent addiction hospital. Corrupt management and changing circumstances saw the City shutter the facility in the early 1960’s, and the buildings were abandoned to the elements.

Until 1964, North Brother was formally part of first Long Island City (after 1870) and then Queens County (after 1898), but after the Parks Dept. took formal control of the island in 2001 and both islands became part of Bronx county in 2007.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are some pretty staggering views of the whole “soup bowl” as I call it, from the NYC Ferry’s Soundview line. Definitely worth your $2.75 fare, I would argue. Here’s a tip – download the NYC Ferry app to your phone and buy the ticket that way. The ticket stays active for 90 minutes, meaning that if – like me – you’re not planning on debarking the boat and just plan on riding it back and forth for lookie loo, you can do so on one fare.

Back on Monday with something completely different at this, your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 1, 2019 at 2:00 pm

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