The Riverside Drive Viaduct Silent Newsreel from 1928

In April, 2011, while researching footage on a completely different topic, a Riviera resident came across a 1928 silent newsreel footage of the official opening of what is called the Riverside Viaduct, the raised road that stretches from 155-160th Streets, the top of which is known as Riverside Drive West. The structure was considered enough of an architectural achievement to warrant the presence of a film crew. Fox Movietone News captured the ribbon cutting for movie theater audiences in a newsreel. For more news articles and artifacts click here.
(Please note that this footage was licensed for display on this website only and should not be downloaded from this website. © the University of South Carolina Moving Image Collection, all rights reserved.)

About the footage: When you watch this footage of the opening day of the Riverside Viaduct, residents or people familiar with our area should note some of the following features:

  1. The very large dock area down by the water by 155-158 Street.
  2. One stanchion of the George Washington Bridge is already standing even though the bridge would not be completed until 1931.
  3. The medical center buildings some of which are still standing today.
  4. The lack of cars parked along what would later be called Riverside Drive West.
  5. The street lights along the viaduct are the same or have the same design as the ones on Riverside Drive West today.
  6. Notice the use of the corner of 155th and Riverside Drive, above the cemetery, as the podium from which Mayor Walker gave his address. Today that space often feels like it lacks a specific purpose. It seems like a very fitting location from which to give a political address. Notice that the flag buntings are draped over the walls of that space.
  7. The absence of a building on the corner where you can make a turn into the north end of what is now called “the lower drive.” Today in that spot stands the River Arts Apartments.
  8. Riverside Oval still has no fencing around it in 1928 and does not look very developed.
  9. The Crillon Court or 779 Riverside Drive is already standing in this footage. In 1928 it was the last building on the west side of Riverside Drive because 765, which ultimately was built where the Audubon House stood would not be built till 1931.
Viaduct Opening footage collage, courtesy of: The New York Public Library