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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Manhattan Island

One of my favorite t-shirts was designed with a tropical motif, including palm trees blended with a New York City skyline. Below it were the words Manhattan Island. Perfect. I love the tropics, islands, and New York City. The shirt is long gone, but the spirit of Manhattan Island remains.

However, there is always a price to pay for the island experience, and that is getting on and off, by bridge, tunnel, boat, or for those who can afford it, by plane. One of my favorite places in the Northeast is Cape Cod - including Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. But the bridge to Cape Cod can be horrific during summer weekends, and smart travelers who drive there plan their vacation around bridge traffic.

Manhattan has limited entrance and egress from the west (via New Jersey): the Holland Tunnel, the Lincoln Tunnel, and the George Washington Bridge. The choices are further limited by destination in the city and place of origin. The GW Bridge is located at the northernmost tip of Manhattan and is not typically used coming into midtown Manhattan unless one is coming from a northern point. For most others, the Holland or Lincoln Tunnel is the only option.

At some point in a New Yorker's life, he/she will see and experience something that looks much like what we see in today's photo - waiting at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. 
Manhattan is an island. Four of the five boroughs of New York City are islands or part of islands - only the Bronx is on the mainland. Tunnels and bridges are a way of life here. Smooth sailing requires experience and strategy. A journey made easily without getting caught in traffic is a source of personal pride and justifiable bragging rights. People who drive into and around New York City becomes strategic planners, or they will, over time, slowly lose their minds.

The Lincoln Tunnel was designed by Ole Singstad and consists of three tubes - the first built between 1934 and 1937, the second completed in 1945, and the third in 1957. The approach roadway makes a full circle coming in, so the traffic congestion is a surprise for the motorist as her or she comes around the final bend. One of the busiest tunnels in the world, it sees approximately 120,000 vehicles per day. The XBL (exclusive bus lane) concept was one of the first.

They only thing missing for me is the tropical climate and palm trees. But better off without them - imagine the traffic trying to get into a tropical Manhattan Island :)


missb@dragonflyvintage said...

"Manhattan is an island as are all the boroughs except the Bronx."

I'm a little confused by this. Are you saying Brooklyn and Queens are islands? Or because technically they're part of Long Island...? Not trying to be argumentative, I was just surprised by this statement and want to understand the geography of the area.

Brian Dubé said...

missb - it was not worded precisely. I have reworded it. "Four of the five boroughs of New York City are islands or part of islands - only the Bronx is on the mainland."

Joe said...

You're right, if it were warm and sunny and with some nice beaches it would be a disaster!

Nathalie said...

I've learnt something with the word XBL.

I love cape cod - sailing into Martha's vineyard in semi-fog is one of my best sailing memories.

Love your comment about the strategic planning side of driving in and out of NYC.

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Anonymous said...

No mention of NJ Transit, PATH, LIRR, Metro North, Amtrak, etc? For many, these are perhaps the preferred (and least stressful) ways to reach (and escape from) the island.