Harlem River Drive

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Harlem River Drive

369th Harlem Hellfighters Drive
Harlem River Drive highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by NYSDOT
Length4.20 mi[1][2] (6.76 km)
RestrictionsNo commercial vehicles
Major junctions
South end
I-278 Toll / FDR Drive in East Harlem
Major intersections I-95 / US 1 in Highbridge Park
North endDyckman Street / 10th Avenue in Inwood
CountryUnited States
StateNew York
CountiesNew York
Highway system

Harlem River Drive is a 4.20-mile (6.76 km) long north–south parkway in the New York City borough of Manhattan. It runs along the west bank of the Harlem River from the Triborough Bridge in East Harlem to 10th Avenue in Inwood, where the parkway ends and the road continues northwest as Dyckman Street. South of the Triborough Bridge, the parkway continues toward lower Manhattan as FDR Drive. All of Harlem River Drive is designated New York State Route 907P (NY 907P), an unsigned reference route.

The parkway north of 165th Street was originally part of the Harlem River Speedway, a horse carriage roadway opened in 1898. The rest of the parkway from 125th to 165th Street opened to traffic in stages from 1951 to 1962. The parkway's ceremonial designation, 369th Harlem Hellfighters Drive, is in honor of the 369th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Harlem Hellfighters.

Route description

Harlem River Drive northbound at the Macombs Dam Bridge
The northern terminus of Harlem River Drive at Dyckman Street and Tenth Avenue in Inwood

Harlem River Drive begins at exit 17 of FDR Drive in the East Harlem section of Manhattan. The parkway crosses under 125th Street alongside the Harlem River. Bending to the northwest, Harlem River Drive crosses under Willis Avenue, passing west of the Willis Avenue Bridge. Exit 19 leads off the southbound lanes to 125th Street and the Willis Avenue Bridge. Harlem River Drive proceeds northwest, crosses under the Third Avenue Bridge, reaching exit 21 northbound, a junction for 135th Street. Southbound, exit 20 connects to Park Avenue. Continuing northward, Harlem River Drive continues north under the Madison Avenue Bridge. Southbound, Harlem River Drive meets exit 22, a junction to 142nd Street and Fifth Avenue.[3]

Crossing under 145th Street, Harlem River Drive passes east of the 145th Street subway station on the IRT Lenox Avenue Line (3 train). It then passes directly east of the Lenox Yard and the Harlem – 148th Street station. Harlem River Drive crosses under the Macombs Dam Bridge, 155th Street, and Seventh Avenue before crossing northbound exit 23, a left exit to Frederick Douglass Boulevard. Then, the parkway goes east of the Polo Grounds site and merges with the southbound exit 23, an exit to Frederick Douglass Boulevard and to a junction with the Harlem River Driveway, which goes south to 155th Street. Shortly after, Harlem River Drive enters exit 24, a four-lane viaduct that rises from the parkway to connect to the George Washington Bridge via I-95 and US 1 along the Trans-Manhattan Expressway, as well to Amsterdam Avenue in Washington Heights.[3]

Harlem River Drive continues northeast as a four-lane parkway. Crossing under the Alexander Hamilton Bridge, Harlem River Drive crosses through High Bridge Park before turning away from the Harlem River in Inwood. The four-lane arterial continues north through Manhattan, entering a junction with Dyckman Street and Tenth Avenue, which is the northern end of Harlem River Drive.[3]


Harlem River Speedway in 1903

The Drive originated as the Harlem River Speedway,[4] which started construction in 1894[5] and opened in July 1898.[6] Originally, the Speedway was exclusively for the use of horse-drawn carriages and those on horseback; bicyclists were specifically excluded, as were sulkies and drays. The Speedway ran from West 155th Street to Dyckman Street, and soon became a tourist destination, where visitors watched carriage races and boat races on the river. Rich New Yorkers used the Speedway to train their horses and size up those of their friends and competitors.[4][7] In 1919, motorists were allowed on the Speedway, but for normal driving purposes.[7][8] The route was paved in 1922, and officially renamed the Harlem River Driveway.[7][9]

In 1939, Manhattan Borough President Stanley M. Isaacs unveiled plans to build Harlem River Drive,[10] which was planned as a four-lane road linking the Harlem River Speedway and East River (now FDR) Drive north of East 125th Street.[4] The initial section of the drive would stretch from 125th to 165th Streets, near where it merged into the speedway.[11] Traffic from the Triborough Bridge and the several Harlem River bridges joining the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx would feed into the drive.[10] Harlem River Drive would also contain playgrounds and parks along its route, similar to those on East River Drive,[11] There would be a service road abutting the drive's west side.[10] Sections of the old speedway in the path of the highway would incorporated into the new highway.[12] There would also be new ramps from the speedway section to the then-newly built George Washington Bridge.[13]

The cost of Harlem River Drive was originally estimated at over $18 million, of which $11 million was used to build the highway itself and nearly $7 million in acquired lands.[12] However, there were some disagreements during the planning of the new highway, and by 1946, the cost had increased to $26 million.[14]

The modern Harlem River Drive was completed in segments during the 1950s and early 1960s.[4] The segment connecting the Speedway to Eighth Avenue, which ended at 159th Street, was completed in 1951.[15][16] The highway from 125th Street and First Avenue to 132nd Street and Park Avenue opened in 1958, connecting three of the Harlem River bridges.[17] Another section between 142nd and 161st Streets opened in 1960,[18] and an extension south to 132nd Street opened two years later, closing the gap between the two sections.[19] In 1964, shortly after the drive's completion, the entire drive was widened to six lanes.[20]

In 2003, the New York State Department of Transportation ceremonially designated the parkway as the "369th Harlem Hellfighters Drive" in honor of the all-black regiment that fought to defend France during World War I.[21]

Founded in 2010, the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway runs between the river and the drive, from 155th to Dyckman Streets, in a portion of Highbridge Park which had been abandoned and fenced off approximately half a century.[22]

Exit list

The entire route is in the New York City borough of Manhattan

East Harlem0.000.00
FDR Drive south – Battery Park
Continuation south

I-278 Toll (RFK Bridge) to Grand Central Parkway – Bruckner Expressway
Access via unsigned NY 900G; exit 46 on I-278; also serves Randall's Island

Willis Avenue Bridge to I-87 north (Major Deegan Expressway)
Northbound exit only
192nd Avenue / East 125th StreetSouthbound left exit
0.50.80Third Avenue BridgeSouthbound entrance only
0.610.9820Park Avenue / East 132nd StreetSouthbound exit and entrance
0.771.2421East 135th Street / Madison Avenue BridgeNorthbound exit only
225th Avenue / West 142nd StreetNo northbound exit
Washington Heights2.1–
23Frederick Douglass Boulevard / West 155th StreetSouthbound access via Harlem River Driveway, Northbound left exit
Highbridge Park2.84.524

I-95 south / US 1 south / Amsterdam Avenue / West 179th Street – George Washington Bridge
Northbound left exit and southbound left entrance; exit 2 on I-95 / US 1
Inwood4.206.76Dyckman Street / 10th AvenueAt-grade intersection
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also


  1. ^ a b "2014 Traffic Data Report for New York State" (PDF). New York State Department of Transportation. July 22, 2015. Retrieved January 14, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "New York County Inventory Listing" (CSV). New York State Department of Transportation. August 7, 2015. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Microsoft; Nokia (October 7, 2012). "Overview Map of the Harlem River Drive" (Map). Bing Maps. Microsoft. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d Gray, Christopher (July 13, 1997). "A Roadway Built for the Elite to Trot Out Their Rigs". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  5. ^ "CHEERS FROM UNEMPLOYED; 1,500 SAW MAYOR GILROY BEGIN WORK ON THE SPEEDWAY. Hundreds of Idle Workmen Gathered in the Hope of Getting Work, but Active Construction of the Drive Will Not Begin Until To-day or To-morrow -- The Mayor Made a Short Speech of Congratulation -- Stories Told by Unemployed". The New York Times. February 6, 1894. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  6. ^ "HARLEM SPEEDWAY OPENED; Pronounced by Horsemen to be the Finest Driveway for Light Speeding in the Country. YESTERDAY THE FIRST DAY The Number Present at the Opening Hour Not Large, but Later in the Day Many Wrote Arrived -- Interesting Facts". The New York Times. July 3, 1898. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Robinson, Lauren (February 28, 2012). "How Harlem River Speedway Became Harlem River Drive". Museum of the City of New York.
  8. ^ "Autos to Use Speedway: Gallatin Will Open Harlem Drive to Passenger Machines Today". The New York Times. December 4, 1919. Retrieved July 16, 2017.
  9. ^ "SPEEDWAY REOPENS WITH NEW SURFACE; Famous Harlem River Stretch Now Has Concrete Paving in Place of Dirt. CELEBRATION IS PLANNED Park Commissioner Notified of Arrangements for a Programon Oct. 12". The New York Times. August 13, 1922. Retrieved July 16, 2017.
  10. ^ a b c "ISAACS ASKS AID FOR HARLEM DRIVE; Borough Head Says It Will Enhance Property Values in Section Greatly SEES MORE PLAYGROUNDS He and Others Praise Aims of Newly Formed Harlem Real Estate Board Problem of Financing Unfavorable Realty Dealings". The New York Times. 1939. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  11. ^ a b "ISAACS PROPOSES NEW RIVER DRIVE; Borough President Has Plans for Road Along the Harlem for 2 1/2 to 3 Miles". The New York Times. November 3, 1941. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  12. ^ a b "DETAILS OUTLINED FOR HARLEM DRIVE; Ample Provision for Uses Commercially Provided in $18,000,000 Project". The New York Times. July 12, 1944. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  13. ^ "NEW APPROACH TO BRIDGE; Ramp and Tunnel Will Speed Traffic to the George Washington Span From the East". The New York Times. April 2, 1939. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  14. ^ "IMPROVEMENT COSTS VOTED FOR SUBWAY; Board of Estimate Appropriates $31,291,000 for New Cars and Station Lengthening SPRING REFERENDUM SEEN Mayor Expected to Seek Change in Transit Law for 'Safe' Vote on Higher Fare". The New York Times. October 11, 1946. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  15. ^ "LINK TO SPEEDWAY IN HARLEM READY; $268,000 Half-Mile Lane From Upper End of 8th Ave. to Be Opened Today PART OF A LONG PROJECT Wagner Says More Routes in Over-All Development Will Be Speeded by City". The New York Times. June 13, 1951. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  16. ^ "NEW HALF-MILE STRETCH OF HARLEM RIVER DRIVE OPENED". The New York Times. June 14, 1951. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  17. ^ "FIRST LINK OPENED IN HARLEM DRIVE; Harriman and Wagner at Ceremony -- Road Joins 3 East Side Arteries". The New York Times. February 14, 1958. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  18. ^ "ROAD SECTION TO OPEN; Part of Harlem River Drive to Be in Use Tomorrow". The New York Times. November 17, 1960. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  19. ^ "Harlem Drive Link to Open Today". The New York Times. August 31, 1962. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  20. ^ "Work on Harlem River Drive Will Cause Change inTraffic". The New York Times. December 13, 1964. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  21. ^ Hayes, William (2007). City in Time: New York. City in time. Sterling Innovation. p. 137. ISBN 978-1-4027-3851-7. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  22. ^ New York City Department of City Planning (2010). "Manhattan Waterfront Greenway". New York City Department of City Planning. Archived from the original on July 5, 2009. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  23. ^ Google (January 15, 2020). "Harlem River Drive" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved January 15, 2020.

External links