Homeless New Yorkers Are Living Inside the Manhattan Bridge

Illustration for article titled Homeless New Yorkers Are Living Inside the Manhattan Bridge

We've all heard of the lengths to which NYC's homeless have gone to find shelter, from living in abandoned factories to building whole encampments inside subway tunnels. But a report from the New York Post goes one step further, describing how people are now making homes out of small nooks and crannies between the Manhattan Bridge's steel platforms.

The story, which is full of jokes about what a Craigslist broker would say about the shelters (zero bathrooms, great views!), describes how a cyclist crossing the Manhattan Bridge saw a man climbing the fence and mistook him for a suicidal jumper. He called 911, but, when the police accosted the man, he explained that he was just going home: A 10 by 1.5 foot gap in the steel struts above the bike lane and below the asphalt of the actual driving lanes.


The Post takes the opportunity to point out that "a one-bedroom apartment a couple blocks away at 274 South St. would cost $2,900 a month." The spaces are so tiny, they're only large enough to shimmy into for a fitful sleep. This is a first for NYC, but similar situations are more common in cities like Hong Kong, where many migrant workers can only afford "cage houses" no larger than closets.

But other New Yorkers have imagined using the city's bridges for housing. During the Cold War, the city installed a series of shelters inside the masonry foundation of the Brooklyn Bridge. The tiny shelters were forgotten until 2006, when a Department of Transportation crew rediscovered the cracker-stuffed supply boxes inside. It's easy to imagine that there are dozens of other forgotten nooks and crannies embedded in NYC's infrastructure, once intended to serve as disaster housing. If only we could turn them all into viable housing for NYC's 64,060 homeless. [New York Post]

Image: Joshua Haviv

Update: Gothamist reports that the NYPD has removed one homeless man living between the bridge's platforms.


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James Massey

I'm not surprised, really. It's what the Bay Bridge will end up being, eventually.

Just don't go towards Treasure Island. Those people are crazy.