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Driving Under "the Apartments" on Your Way Out of New York City? Here's a Closer Look.

The Bridge Apartments perched above the 12-lane Trans-Manhattan Expressway.
The Bridge Apartments are perched above the 12-lane Trans-Manhattan Expressway.

If you're a New Yorker whose holiday plans involve getting into a car and heading to points south, north or west, there's a good chance you'll find yourself driving under "the apartments," as they're often called in traffic reports.

Also known as the Bridge Apartments, these four blocky buildings in Washington Heights are perched right above the 12-lane Trans-Manhattan Expressway—the part of I-95 that passes through Upper Manhattan and connects to the George Washington Bridge. About 4,000 people call them home.

The "Bridge Apartments" sit over I-95 in Washington Heights

So how exactly did these residential towers (with balconies, no less) manage to get built above such an immense and congested thoroughfare?

Designed by Brown & Guenther, they were constructed in 1964 as the city looked for new ways to create middle-income housing. The buildings, sheathed in aluminum, sit on four concrete platforms between 178th and 179th Streets that double as foundations. As you might imagine, the shaking from the trucks can be felt inside, and when the windows are open, it's loud.

Assuming things haven't changed since a reporter from The New York Times visited more than 18 years ago, many of the residents enjoy living there. ''When I talk to my grandmother in the Dominican Republic, she says, 'You're crazy! Get out of there!''' a tenant named Cristina Estevez told the newspaper. ''But I tell her it's nice, I like it, everything is not too far.''

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