FDR Drive

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Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive marker

Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive
FDR Drive
Map of New York City with Franklin D. Roosevelt East River (FDR) Drive highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by NYSDOT and NYCDOT
Length 9.44 mi[2] (15.19 km)
Existed 1955[1] – present
History Upgraded in 1966[1]
Restrictions No commercial vehicles
No buses north of exit 7
Major junctions
South end NY 9A in Battery Park
  Brooklyn Bridge in Two Bridges
RFK Bridge in East Harlem
Willis Avenue Bridge in East Harlem
North end Harlem River Drive in East Harlem
Counties New York
Highway system

The FDR Drive (officially referred to as the Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive, and sometimes known as the FDR) is a 9.44-mile (15.19 km) freeway-standard parkway on the east side of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It starts just north of the Battery Park Underpass at South and Broad Streets and runs along the entire length of the East River, from the Battery Park Underpass under Battery Park – north of which it is the South Street Viaduct – north to 125th Street / Robert F. Kennedy Bridge / Willis Avenue Bridge interchange, where it becomes the Harlem River Drive. All of the FDR Drive is designated New York State Route 907L (NY 907L), an unsigned reference route.

The highway is mostly three lanes in each direction, with the exception of a small section underneath the Brooklyn Bridge where it is one lane in each direction and a section near the Queensboro Bridge interchange (exit 12) where there are only two lanes going northbound.

By law, the current weight limits on the FDR Drive from 23rd Street to the Harlem River Drive in both directions is posted 8,000 pounds (3,600 kg). Buses are not allowed to use the roadway north of 23rd Street, because of clearance and weight issues. All commercial vehicles (including trucks) are banned from all sections of the FDR Drive, except for a short section just north of the Battery Park Underpass where the northbound lanes temporarily merge with South Street.[3] The FDR Drive features a mix of below-grade, at-grade, and elevated sections, as well as three partially covered tunnels.


Looking north from 6th Street overpass

The first sections of this roadway, originally named the East River Drive, were constructed in 1934, having been designed by Robert Moses. Moses faced the difficulties of building a parkway/boulevard combination along the East River while minimizing disruptions to residents. Many property owners along the East River Drive, especially in Midtown, opposed the boulevard unless noise mitigation measures were added.[4]

The section from 125th Street and the Triborough Bridge ramp south to 92nd Street was completed in 1936.[5] The sections from 92nd Street down to Battery Park (with the exception of a section from 42nd to 49th Streets, located underneath the headquarters of the United Nations) were built as a boulevard running at street level.[6] The first "downtown" section of the boulevard, between Grand and 12th Streets, was completed in June 1937.[7] Two more downtown sections, from 12th to 14th Streets and then from 14th to 18th Streets, were opened in 1939.[8] A short connector from Grand to Montgomery Street was completed in May 1940, which meant that the boulevard was now continuous from Montgomery to 30th Streets.[9] The next month, a large stretch from 49th to 92nd Streets opened. By this point, the only contiguous section that remained to be completed was the stretch between 30th and 49th Streets.[10]

Around this time, city officials started making plans for reconstructing existing sections of the boulevard so that several intersections would be grade-separated or double-decked. A plan to build a three-level section from 81st to 89th Streets was released in April 1940,[11] followed by an East River Drive overpass over 96th Street in June.[12] Due to a bulkhead restriction, a section from 51st to 60th Streets was already being built with two decks.[11]

The section of the East River Drive from 23rd to 34th Streets was completed in October 1941.[13] It was built on wartime rubble dumped by cargo ships returning from Bristol, England, during World War II. The German Luftwaffe bombed Bristol heavily. After delivering war supplies to the British, the ships' crews loaded rubble onto the ships for ballast, then sailed back to New York, where construction crews made use of it.[14] The final part of the original boulevard, between 34th and 49th Streets, opened in May 1942.[15] Future reconstruction designs from 1948 to 1966 converted the FDR Drive into the full parkway that is in use today.[6]

Upon the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1945, the East River Drive was renamed the FDR Drive in June of that year.[16] The drive is now commonly called the "FDR Drive".[17]

An elevated ramp between 18th and 25th Streets, serving as an extension of the highway south of 23rd Street, was completed in 1949,[18] replacing an at-grade section.[19] Another elevated highway above South Street, connecting the at-grade parkway north of Grand Street to the Battery Park Underpass and Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel at the southern tip of Manhattan, was completed in May 1954.[20]

Exit 6, at 15th Street, is located near a Con Edison substation, which handles most of the electricity for lower Manhattan, and has been closed since the September 11, 2001 attacks. City and ConEd officials believed it was too risky to allow such easy access to such a critical piece of infrastructure, and there are no plans to reopen it.[21] All signage of exit 6 was removed in early 2016.[22]

Route description

The East River Greenway runs below, beside or above the motor road from South Street to 34th Street and 60th Street to 124th Street. A plaque dedicating the East River Drive is visible on the southbound roadway before entering the Gracie Mansion tunnel at 90th Street.


FDR Drive approaching Brooklyn Bridge

FDR Drive starts at the southern tip of Manhattan at South and Whitehall streets, and quickly becomes elevated until Gouverneur Slip, near the Manhattan Bridge interchange. This section is also known as the South Street Viaduct. From here, the road is at-grade, except for when it uses an underpass to dive below the Houston Street interchange.

On the southbound side, Exit 6, which served Alphabet City via East 15th Street, was temporarily closed after September 11, 2001, and was permanently removed in 2014 after the New York State Department of Transportation received notification from the New York City Police Department that the exit would not be re-opening for security reasons. The ramp passed through a ConEdison facility that was deemed a potential terrorist target. East 15th and East 14th Streets (which allowed on-ramp access to the Drive) were also vacated east of Avenue C, allowing only Con Edison and law enforcement personnel access.

Once past the 18th Street curve, it becomes elevated briefly until 25th Street in order to serve the 23rd Street interchange. After passing Waterside Plaza near 30th Street, the roadway again becomes elevated.


The roadway quickly dips onto street level after passing the 42nd Street interchange, while the southbound roadway is inside a later structure resembling a tunnel while the northbound roadway appears to be on the outside of the tunnel. This section is often referred to as the United Nations Tunnel, even though the northbound roadway is barely under the structure. The United Nations Headquarters was constructed on a platform above the roadway from 42nd to 48th Streets.

Here, the road emerges and proceeds at-grade to 51st Street, where the road enters the Sutton Place Tunnel, which passes under apartment buildings on the east side of Sutton Place and York Avenue until 60th Street; As part of the design in this area, numerous homes on the river were demolished and rebuilt or otherwise modified to accommodate the highway. In this unique tunnel, the southbound roadway is raised and runs over the northbound roadway for northbound access to and from the Queensboro Bridge interchange.[23]

From 63rd to 68th Street, the Drive forms the eastern boundary of Rockefeller University. Plans were approved in 2014 for the university to build a platform for a 160,000-square-foot (15,000 m2) building to be constructed over the Drive, using air rights the university owns.[24] This would create another at-grade tunnel, similar to the section roadway that runs underneath the pilotis of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital from 68th to 71st Streets.


FDR Drive at night

From 79th to 90th streets runs a final enclosed, at-grade portion; the southbound roadway is again raised over the northbound roadway in a short segment of the tunnel. The promenade of Carl Schurz Park was built over the highway in 1939, near Gracie Mansion.[25] Except for a short elevation over the 96th Street interchange, the remaining portion of the roadway from this tunnel to the 125th Street interchange is at grade.

Exit list

The entire route is in the New York City borough of Manhattan (New York County).

Location mi[2][22][26] km Exit Destinations Notes
Battery Park City 0.00 0.00 abbr=abbr= NY 9A north (West Street) to Hugh L. Carey Tunnel / I-278 Continuation beyond Battery Park
Battery Park 0.10–
Battery Park Underpass
Financial District 0.60 0.97 1 South Street – Battery Park, Staten Island Ferry No southbound entrance
Two Bridges 1.10–
2 Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Civic Center Access to Civic Center via Pearl Street
2.30 3.70 3 South Street – Manhattan Bridge Southbound exit and northbound entrance
Lower East Side 2.60 4.18 4 Grand Street – Williamsburg Bridge Southbound exit and entrance
3.03 4.88 5 Houston Street – Williamsburg Bridge Formerly signed for Holland Tunnel
East Village 3.70 5.95 6 East 15th Street Closed since September 11, 2001[21]
Peter Cooper Village 3.70–
7 East 20th Street / East 23rd Street No southbound signage for East 20th Street
Kips Bay 4.40 7.08 East 28th Street Southbound entrance only
Murray Hill 4.40–
8 I-495.svg East 34th Street to I-495 (Midtown Tunnel)- Long Island City, Eastern Long Island, Riverhead
4.50 7.24 9 East 42nd Street Northbound exit only
Midtown East 5.20–
United Nations Tunnel
5.60 9.01 10 East 49th Street Southbound exit and northbound entrance (from 1st Avenue)
Sutton Place 5.80 9.33 11 East 53rd Street Southbound exit only
Sutton Place Tunnel
Upper East Side 6.14–
12 abbr= East 61st Street / East 63rd Street to NY 25 east (Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge)- Queens Northbound exit to 61st Street, southbound exit to 63rd Street
Tunnel under Rockefeller University / NewYork–Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center / Hospital for Special Surgery
13 East 71st Street Southbound exit and entrance (from 73rd Street)
Yorkville 7.00 11.27 East 79th Street Southbound entrance only
Tunnel under Carl Schurz Park
East Harlem 7.80–
14 East 96th Street Also serves East 97th Street and York Avenue
8.70 14.00 15 East 106th Street Southbound exit only
9.10 14.65 16 East 116th Street Southbound exit and entrance
9.44 15.19 17 I-278 (Robert F. Kennedy Bridge) – Bruckner Expressway, Grand Central Parkway Northbound entrance under construction; exit 46 on I-278
18 abbr= Willis Avenue Bridge to I-87 north (Major Deegan Expressway)- Albany, Yankee Stadium Northbound exit only
Harlem River Drive north – George Washington Bridge Continuation north
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
FDR Drive near the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.

See also


  1. ^ a b Anderson, Steve. "FDR Drive". NYCRoads. Retrieved January 19, 2012. [self-published source]
  2. ^ a b New York State Department of Transportation (July 25, 2008). "2007 Traffic Data Report for New York State" (PDF). New York State Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 12, 2012. Retrieved July 17, 2009. 
  3. ^ New York City Department of Transportation (2013). "Parkway Truck Restrictions". New York City Department of Transportation. Retrieved June 23, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Land Owners Fight East River Drive Plan; Want It Roofed, if Built, to Stifle Noise". The New York Times. 1936-09-20. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  5. ^ "EAST DRIVE LINK OPENS; Southbound Lanes Ready Today From 92d to 122d Streets". The New York Times. 1936-10-31. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  6. ^ a b New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. "East River Park Highlights". New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. 
  7. ^ "NEW SECTION READY ON EAST SIDE DRIVE; Mile-Long Stretch, Between Grand and 12th Sts., to Be Opened on Tuesday 35-ACRE PARK ADJOINS IT Six-Lane Auto Highway Later Will Form Part of Road Chain Circling Manhattan". The New York Times. 1937-06-24. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  8. ^ "SECTION OF DRIVE ON EAST SIDE OPEN; Stretch From 14th to 18th Sts. Placed in Commission by Isaacs and Party". The New York Times. 1939-12-28. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  9. ^ "DRIVE SECTION OPEN TODAY; East River Road, Montgomery to 30th St., Ready for Use". The New York Times. 1940-05-17. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  10. ^ "NEW LINK IS OPENED IN EAST RIVER DRIVE; Along the Section of East River Drive Which Was Dedicated Yesterday". The New York Times. 1940-06-19. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  11. ^ a b "DETAILS ARE GIVEN OF NEW DRIVE LINK; Isaacs Makes Public Description of Triple-Deck Section". The New York Times. 1940-04-29. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  12. ^ "City to Act Today on East Drive Link; Plan for Ninety-Sixth Street Overpass Along the East River Drive". The New York Times. 1940-06-06. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  13. ^ "EAST RIVER DRIVE GETS A NEW LINK; Mayor Hails It as Example of 'Perfect Engineering and Clean Financing'". The New York Times. 1941-10-23. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  14. ^ Pollak, Michael (June 26, 2009). "FYI Column". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2009. 
  15. ^ "EAST RIVER DRIVE IS OPENED IN FULL; Final Link, 34th to 49th Sts., Completes 7 1/2-Mile Stretch That Cost $46,000,000 WORK OF 3 BOROUGH HEADS Mayor Praises Cooperation of Levy, Isaacs, Nathan and Private Industries". The New York Times. 1942-05-26. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  16. ^ "Council Votes to Name East Drive for Roosevelt". The New York Times. 1945-06-29. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  17. ^ New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (December 20, 2001). "FDR Drive: Historical Sign". New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. 
  18. ^ Bennett, Charles G. (1949-06-07). "MAYOR AND ROGERS OPEN RAISED ROAD; East Side Span Takes Express Highway From 18th to 25th St. -- Other Links Pushed". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  19. ^ "City Will Raise Part of East River Drive". The New York Times. 1948-03-08. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  20. ^ "UNDERPASS LINKED TO EAST SIDE DRIVE; Ceremony at Battery End of Elevated Highway Officially Completes Peripheral Road MAYOR LAUDS ENGINEERS Borough President Speaks at Gathering of 2,000 at South Street and Coenties Slip". The New York Times. 1954-05-29. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  21. ^ a b Siff, Andrew. "Since 2002, FDR Drive's Exit 6 Mysteriously Says 'Closed'". New York: WNBC. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  22. ^ a b Google (January 5, 2016). "FDR Drive" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved January 5, 2016. 
  23. ^ Gray, Christopher (May 15, 1988). "Streetscapes: Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive; Institutions Use Air Rights Over a Multilevel Marvel". The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  24. ^ Veilleux, Zach (May 14, 2014). "NY City Council approves new Rockefeller laboratory building". Rockefeller University. Retrieved May 9, 2016. The Rockefeller University's proposal to build a two-story, 160,000-square-foot [15,000 m2] building over the FDR Drive adjacent to its campus passed an important milestone today with the City Council's vote to approve the plan. 
  25. ^ New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. "Carl Schurz Park". New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  26. ^ "New York County Inventory Listing" (CSV). New York State Department of Transportation. August 7, 2015. Retrieved September 5, 2017. 

External links

KML is from Wikidata
  • FDR Drive at Alps' Roads
  • FDR Drive (Greater New York Roads)
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