The idea of re-purposing transportation infrastructure is not new — the Highline in Lower Manhattan has even made it trendy. But before the Highline was converted from an elevated railway into a world-famous park, it was overgrown and abandoned, left-forgotten and off-limits. And consequently, it was much loved and admired by creative souls looking for new ways to live and play in the city.
The Ramp-to-Nowhere has similarly attracted creative uses during its orphaned life in the Arboretum. Once someone built a penthouse apartment nestled under the roadway, between the girders spanning over the lagoons. The penthouse had a sofa, a bed, plenty of storage and an entry door under lock and key. Vinyl flooring, carpet and art on the walls made the place feel like home despite the extra-low ceiling.
Access to the penthouse was by rock climbing up from the water using hand holds drilled into the concrete columns. A rolling platform spanning between the bottom flanges of the I-beams made it easy to travel under the roadway — better for bringing in the groceries that way. There was a basketball hoop down at water level, apparently for pick up games with canoers.
This ingenious little abode was discovered (and removed) by maintenance crews in 2001, but the curious attraction of the ramp remains, waiting for others to come along and put it to use.
Originally published May 18, 2012.