Little Hell Gate

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Looking east from mouth of the waterway towards Triboro viaduct
Looking west along the waterway towards the footbridge of the other picture

Little Hell Gate was a waterway in New York City, New York, USA. It passed between Randalls and Wards Islands, near the confluence of the Harlem River and East River.[1]

The east end of Little Hell Gate opened into the Hell Gate passage, of the East River, opposite Lawrence Point, Queens. The west end met the Harlem River across from East 116th Street, Manhattan.

The Triborough Bridge opened in 1936, allowing easy access to Wards and Randall's islands. This spurred the conversion of both islands to parkland. Soon thereafter, the city began filling in the passage between the two, to expand and connect the two parks.

Few traces of Little Hell Gate still exist. Only indentations in the shoreline of the joined island in the East River indicate the former entrances to the waterway. Today, parkland and part of the New York City Fire Department Academy occupy its former location.

Little Hell Gate Bridge[edit]

Two bridges appear to have been known as Little Hell Gate Bridge: an early 20th-century rail bridge on the approach to Hell Gate Bridge, and a later, lower, steel arch road bridge across Little Hell Gate.

Rail bridge[edit]

The northern approach viaduct to Hell Gate Bridge included an inverted bowstring truss bridge, with four 300-foot (91 m) long spans, across Little Hell Gate.[2] Although Little Hell Gate has been filled this bridge still exists (location: [1]; 2007 photo: [2]).

The approach to Hell Gate bridge under construction circa 1915.
This photograph appears to have been taken from the top of the north tower of the Hell Gate Bridge itself. The view looks north toward the construction site of the bridge over Little Hell Gate, which forms part of the northern approach to the Hell Gate Bridge proper.

Road bridge[edit]

Some time after the rail bridge was built a 1,000-foot (300 m) long, 3 span, steel arch road bridge, designed by George Washington Bridge-engineer Othmar Ammann, was also built across Little Hell Gate, just a short distance to the north west of the rail bridge (approximate location of the road bridge).

This bridge was rendered obsolete when the Little Hell Gate was filled, and a service road was built alongside the deteriorating bridge. Efforts were made in the mid-1990s to preserve the bridge in the face of plans by the New York City Department of Transportation to demolish it.[3] They were unsuccessful.


  1. ^ United States Geological Survey (1900). New York-New Jersey Harlem Quadrangle (Map). 1:62,500. 15 Minute Series (Topographic). Section SW. Retrieved 2010-02-13.
  2. ^ Reier, Sharon (2000). The Bridges of New York. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications. p. 62. ISBN 0-486-41230-X. 
  3. ^ "Parks and Transportation Departments Debate Future of Former Link Between Randalls and Wards Islands". New York Times. 1995-04-16. Retrieved 2010-02-13. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°47′30″N 73°55′26″W / 40.79167°N 73.92389°W / 40.79167; -73.92389