In its own way, the area surrounding Dutch Kills is actually quite a lovely place – as storied industrial centers which have seen better days go. Dutch Kills is a Queens tributary of that languid cautionary tale known as the Newtown Creek, and has been isolated for several seasons from maritime utility by failing railway bridges and a changing industrial landscape.
I’m down here a lot of course, and have introduced you to the Borden Avenue Bridge and the Dutch Kills Barge Turning Basin in prior posts. Today, it’s the seldom mentioned Hunters Point Avenue Bridge that gets the spotlight.
Hunters Point Avenue is a two-lane local City street in Queens. Hunters Point Avenue is oriented east-west and extends from 21st Street to the Long Island Expressway/Brooklyn Queens Expressway interchange in Queens. The avenue is parallel to and approximately one block south of the Long Island Expressway. The Hunters Point Bridge over Dutch Kills is situated between 27th Street and 30th Street in the Long Island City section of Queens, and is four blocks upstream of the Borden Avenue Bridge. It is a bascule bridge with a span of 21.8m. The general appearance of the bridge has been significantly changed since it was first opened in 1910. The bridge provides a channel with a horizontal clearance of 18.3m and a vertical clearance, in the closed position, of 2.4m at MHW and 4.0m at MLW. The bridge structure carries a two-lane, two-way vehicular roadway with sidewalks on either side. The roadway width is 11.0m, while the sidewalks are 1.8m wide. The width of the approach roadways vary from the width of the bridge roadway. The west approach and east approach roadways are 13.4m and 9.1m, respectively.
The first bridge at this site, a wooden structure, was replaced by an iron bridge in 1874. That bridge was permanently closed in 1907 due to movement of the west abutment, which prevented the draw from closing. It was replaced in 1910 by a double-leaf bascule bridge, designed by the Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company. The bridge was rebuilt in the early 1980′s as a single-leaf bascule, incorporating the foundations of the previous bridge.
Seldom commented, the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge segments Dutch Kills neatly, and has done so for better than a century now. The marshes and streams which once typified the area, before the advance of railroad and the vast agglutination of industry, are long gone – relegated to subterranean sewers and masonry clad spillways. A century ago – the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge (and its predecessors) allowed egress between the central business district of Long Island City and the rest of western Queens.