Friday, April 18, 2008

In "New Amsterdam" Hell Gate is at Southpoint

Apparently the writers of the new Fox TV show New Amsterdam are not only having fun writing for a central character that is immortal but they have decided to relocate the Hell Gate section of the East River to Southpoint Park on Roosevelt Island.

This week's episode and season finale opens with a scene of a woman drowning but quickly moves onto a grassy area where the body, now recovered, has been set down. John Amsterdam's fellow detectives are standing over the victim in what is known to Roosevelt Island residents as the tip of Southpoint Park facing South into the river and across from the United Nations. When Amsterdam shows up he labels the spot Hell Gate and proceeds to have a flash back to 1927 at the same location.

What's amusing about this is that Hell Gate is not even visible from these locations but is just North of Roosevelt Island and actually refers to a larger area encompassing the confluence of the East River and the Harlem River. The Bridge in the above picture is the Queensboro Bridge (aka the 59th Street Bridge). When built it was known as the Blackwell's Island Bridge.

What's more amusing looking back at last week's episode where John takes his former partner Andy from the Detective's Squad Room onto a balcony was that that scene was filmed at Goldwater Hospital (see green arrow in above map) a ten minute walk from this location. So this body essentially washed up just down the block from their precinct house.


  1. That was my initial impression when I saw the TV show (which has been canceled, alas). However, upon further inspection, it turns out that the original Dutch explorers' name for the East River was Hellgate (or whatever that translates to in Dutch). So, technically, the information given by the character in the show is correct, although by the time of the flashback - in the 1920s, IIRC - it had already been the East River for centuries. It should be pointed out that the immortal Amsterdam character was originally a Dutch explorer, so he would know its original name.
    Re the "Hell's Gate" caption in the attached photo, that is just plain wrong. There is no such place in NYC, at least to my knowledge.

  2. Although you may not find it on a map, Hell Gate is a place in NY, but it's in the water. It's where the East River meets the Hudson River; basically the north end of Upper New York Bay. Here's what says: "Hell Gate is a narrow tidal strait in the East River in New York City... It separates Astoria, Queens from Randall's Island/Ward's Island. The name 'Hell Gate' is a corruption of the Dutch phrase Hellegat." For more info, go to

  3. The producers never called the Roosevelt Island Historical Society.