Yesterday afternoon, a 150 foot part of a 600 foot long retaining wall collapsed onto the Henry Hudson Parkway, sending city officials and nearby building residents into a frenzy. The City evacuated residents of 1380 Riverside Drive, the building just south of the wall, as they inspected the collapse, which poured tons of dirt, stone, and trees over a thankfully empty stretch of the highway and empty cars. It's unclear how long the northbound part of the Parkway, right near 181st Street, past the George Washington Bridge, will be closed, but the city will be working around the clock to survey the damage and get it removed. While a full investigation needs to be done, the early hypothesis is that water caused the wall's instability. It's been said before, but Gothamist is glad the weather looks clear - we can't even imagine what this would be like if it were raining.
There had been a first, smaller collapse around 3PM, which led to the arrival of a police officer. The police officer then saw the second larger collapse about 45 minutes later; his account, along with others', lead to the belief that no one was trapped underneath (infrared tracking devices and search & rescue dogs also found no one). What's interesting is that Castle Village, the co-op that is right above the retaining wall (except set further away), had been concerned with the wall's condition and their contracted engineers were set to meet with the Department of Transportation today to discuss closing the Parkway in order to conduct work on the 97 year-old wall. The city says that since the wall is privately owned, it's not the city's responsibility; NY Post had a list of wall collapses in recent history. During the press conference, some reporters asked Mayor Bloomberg if this should have been prevented earlier. Gothamist understands why the question needed to be asked, but how can one predict this? It's almost lucky that any wall work wasn't scheduled earlier, because at least no one was injured yesterday.
After outlining the situation and what the city was doing to help the residents and commuters, Mayor's final point was that all the city agencies, most notably the NYPD and FDNY, were cooperating during this emergency. He even said that the police helicopter transported firefighters to the scene.