Trekking Across the George Washington Bridge Into New Jersey

Lower Manhattan and Hoboken (I think), New Jersey as seen from the George Washington Bridge
Lower Manhattan and Hoboken (I think), New Jersey as seen from the George Washington Bridge

When I was in the Army, there was a running cadence that went something like this:

I can run to Jersey just like this,

All the way to Jersey and never quit.

I can run to New York just like this,

All the way to New York and never quit,

Because I’m hardcore,

Motivated,

Dedicated,

etc. etc. (The cadence changes here depending on the unit type)

Well, when I crossed the bridge on foot yesterday, I wasn’t running, but this cadence was rattling around in my head. I was thinking that, of all the times I responded to or called that cadence when I was in the Army, I never actually crossed any state lines during PT (physical training). But, yesterday, I started a walk in Manhattan and ended up in the Fort Lee Historic Park across the river in New Jersey, and then came back again. Maybe in a few months I will go back and run that route, but for now I’m trying to take it easy and just enjoy myself.

The bridge’s walkway is pretty popular. I saw a lot of tourists with name tapes stuck to their shirts as well as families walking across, or hanging out on the bridge. Just as a side note, I noticed a lot of Jewish people hanging out up there. I was reminded of how many Jewish people I saw in the Bronx Zoo last June. I don’t say that to be racist or anything. I’m just wondering if I’m stumbling across popular hangout spots for Orthodox Jewish families, because I don’t recall seeing that many Jewish people hanging around lower Manhattan, the Natural History Museum or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Or it could be that I just never noticed?

Anyway, the views going across the bridge are stunning. My iPhone photos aren’t going to do it justice. I’d like to go back with a real camera to try to get some better shots, and I will definitely have the opportunity, because even if I don’t run across the bridge one day, I’ll definitely be walking all the way back to Jersey.

Also, just as a side-note: In my last blog post I wrote about walking up the Hudson River Greenway underneath the George Washington Bridge and I noted that it seemed like the bushes along some parts of the trail were hollowed out, like people live there. Well, it seems like there are some homeless people living in the park, after all. When I was on the bridge, looking down, I saw a homeless guy through an opening in the trees trying to get comfortable. You can barely see him in this image, but he’s resting his legs on that blue box:

A homeless man getting comfortable in the bushes off the path in Fort Washington Park along the Hudson River Greenway.
A homeless man getting comfortable in the bushes off the path in Fort Washington Park along the Hudson River Greenway.

The Homeless in New York City

A homeless man and his makeshift 'home' in New York City.

New York City has always had homeless people.  Ever since I can remember I’ve seen homeless people in the streets here in New York.  They used to be a lot more obvious.  You’d see them laid up in doorways or in front of store windows.  Since then, the police have become more active in rounding them up and sending them to homeless shelters.  I imagine the guy in the photo above, who was setting up a ‘home’ for himself in a parking lot is no longer there.

You might wonder why these people would choose to live on the street if there are shelters set up for them, but I’ve heard horror stories about these shelters.  To start with, there are only so many beds available, so you have to be there early to claim one.  You also can’t have anything with any value, because it’s common to be robbed in these shelters, or worse.  I imagine the potential violence a person could be subjected to is much worse for homeless women.  In a way, it’s safer for them to try to find a place in the streets to hole up for the night.  Not that they’re immune to being robbed or abused in the street.

I can’t help but wonder how drastically the level of homelessness has increased given the current economic problems the country as a whole is facing.