Discovering off-the-beaten-track NYC is a passion of mine so when a Meet-Up bike ride was posted that traversed the eastern waterfront of the Bronx, I eagerly signed up. Gene, a native New Yorker, was my charming and knowledgeable guide on a clear, cold November Saturday. The entire ride was fascinating, full of beautiful underused parks with water views and oddly angled Manhattan vistas but our last stop was a grand-slam home run – a green roof from 1856!
Fort Schuyler, adjacent to the Throgs Neck Bridge where the Long Island Sound and the East River meet, was built after the War of 1812 to protect New York from a foreign water invasion. The fort played multiple roles in the Civil War as a jail for prisoners of war, a hospital and a training station before soldiers were deployed to the South.
The up to 11-foot thick walls, exposed wooden beams and arched brickwork are lovingly cared for today as this is the campus of the renowned Maritime College, now run by SUNY. It is also the home of the Maritime Industry Museum, housing an extensive collection of boat models and treasures that ignite the imagination from the magical world of ships and shipping.
Gene and I had already perused the museum, peered into the library and enjoyed the manicured grassy courtyard when I LOOKED UP and saw a tree growing on the roof. We discovered a stairway that led us to the fort’s roof where there is a gorgeous grassy park with trees large enough to provide ample shade.
I don’t believe the 19th century architects of Fort Schuyler necessarily planned this as a green roof – in fact, it may have occurred spontaneously – who knows? For 150 years, dirt and seeds could have blown up there and rooted, growing up around what had previously housed enormous 10 and 12-inch guns. Regardless of how it got there, this green roof happily exists on top of an impressive 1856 historical structure. And best of all, this most delightful and surprising discovery was made simply by LOOKING UP in the NYC borough that so often gets a bad rap.
With the shorter days and brisker weather, roof surfing season is slowing down so I’m going to share with you a super SoHo hotel roof (actually, they have two) that Michelle and I visited a few weeks ago.