On a rather short time budget, I visited Inspiration Point, a structure on the Hudson River Greenway. You might remember I wrote some about this in my Billings Terrace post, but didn’t get to go see it at that time.
I parked far west in Washington Heights and even my walk from there to the Greenway was interesting and beautiful. It’s extremely hilly with step streets, old architecture, and great views. I walked towards the water on West 181st Street.
The street dead-ends into a beautiful vista of the Hudson River including the George Washington Bridge. There’s even a little lookout point built out from the sidewalk. Just around the corner to the right is an entrance to the pedestrian bridge over the northbound Henry Hudson Parkway.
Even the retaining wall holding Manhattan back from the Henry Hudson Parkway was intriguing. I think I have a thing for beautiful, old, New York stonework, and something about the scale of the wall was quite striking.
I walked north along the Greenway, making sure to watch out for bikes and runners. It was sometimes exhilarating, sometimes scary, to be in proximity to both pedestrian/bike and car traffic like that. Conceptually it was very cool though, me sandwiched between layers of infrastructure: the river, then train tracks, then southbound lanes of the parkway down to my left – the northbound lanes and all of Manhattan to my right.
After not too long, the structure at Inspiration Point came into view. I got to spend some time there alone, though bikers, runners, and dog walkers passed by. The view is stunning, of course, and the structure is uncanny. It’s got a Greek or Roman architectural inspiration, very summer-y feeling with its open top and crawling vines. My movements within it were very geometric — lots of straight lines. At the same time I love that it’s imperfect – peeling paint, weathered wood. I could picture a graceful ballet with flowing costumes here.
The spaces around this structure were equally thought-provoking. There are gated-off stairs that lead to a platform and more (?) sort of below the structure. While I was curious, this project isn’t about trespassing.
Across the Greenway path from the structure is what looks like a raised piece of sidewalk. Perhaps this used to be some sort of median? Maybe cars could pull into the scenic overlook? Nearby sits a pile of what look like stone steps. I wondered about their purpose, and stand on them for a bit, taking in the dichotomy of the lush scenery on one side and the rushing highway on the other.
Though my time grew short, I couldn’t resist the temptation to walk just a bit further north. You can just barely see Billings Terrace around the corner and on the other side of the highway from Inspiration Point, so I followed the Greenway to that view. The path narrows as you approach the terrace, and there’s a fence on top of the highway barricades. The cars and the terrace loom surprisingly close, meaning this view is so similar to the one I’d seen so many times driving this stretch. I stood on the base of a soon-to-be light pole to take one of the photos wondering as I did on the Tibbetts Brook Park pedestrian bridge how much I distracted drivers.
It was time to hustle back south to make my appointment. I snapped a few more pictures of beautiful river and bridge views, and even managed to catch a bit of train tracks (Amtrak, I believe) through a clearing. They seemed almost straight down from my elevation!