On October 7th the Third Ave Bridge finally received the attention it deserves from its surrounding community. Blox NYC and the Third Avenue Bid led a group of volunteers clad in orange t-shirts with the now recognizable Rocking The Bridge logo, in a massive clean up of the infamous and neglected bridge. That Saturday morning I joined friends and volunteers from the Mott Haven Bar & Grill, The Hub BID, The Mott Haven Historic District, Empanology, community residents, and of course members of Blox NYC. With brooms, bleach, gloves, and paint donated by the Altmark Group, we split up into teams. The groups shoveled human waste, painted the pillars under the bridge, and swept up used condoms, needles, and cigarette butts. News 12 reported on our efforts, hopefully bringing citywide attention to a chronic problem.
This was my first time on the bridge. As I joined Samuel Brooks from the MHHD sweeping up what seemed to be an endless amount of used cigarettes and coffee cups, I couldn’t help but notice the amount of pedestrian traffic. We had to dodge bikers, joggers and step aside for people making their way to Harlem. With such a huge amount of pedestrian traffic on a Saturday morning, I could imagine how busy it is on weekdays. For the city to let the bridge fall into its current condition is simply unacceptable. Marco Shalma founder and CCO of Blox NYC and Blox TV says, “What upsets me is families having to walk through piles of feces and garbage. Rocking The Bridge was an initiative that we founded to create a situation where we can take control over that.” After using social media and phone calls to try and get the city’s attention about the bridge’s condition, it was decided that the community must go about this alone and lead by example.
The Rocking the Bridge Initiative, was sponsored by The Bruckner Building. Owner Daren Hornig says, “You only get to make a first impression once. So I think the impression of coming over the bridge which connects Manhattan to The Bronx is critical. You want it to be clean, safe, and you want it to be an environment that people feel is welcoming. The essence of Rocking The Bridge is bringing the community together.”
The generosity of local businesses must be recognized. Filtered provided free coffee to participants, and Charlie’s Bar & Kitchen made sure cold beers were available that afternoon. This was the first of a series of community clean up events. The next cleanup date is October 21st, followed by a block party on the 22nd. What’s a better way to celebrate a job well done?