27 March 2017

When You Can't See The Gates Of Hell (Or Hell Gate, Anyway).

My students are reading Dante's Inferno.  

As the narrator descends deeper into Hell, it gets darker. It's hard not to wonder how he doesn't stumble more often than he does.  I imagine it was more difficult for him to see when he passed through the Gates of Hell than it was when I rode by Hell Gate:

Yes, that is what I saw from the RFK Memorial Bridge while I rode into and out of showers on my way to work.  Somewhere in that mist are the Hell Gate Bridge as well as the Bronx and Westchester County.

When we started on Canto III--where the narrator and Virgil come to the Gate of Hell--I made a joke with my students.  "I'll tell you how to get to the Gate of Hell".

Then I advised them to go down the Grand Concourse, make a left at 138th Street (where the GC ends).  Then, they should go four blocks, take a right on St. Ann's Avenue, follow it to the end and take another left.  Pass under the RFK Bridge entrance and , underneath the railroad trestle (the Hell Gate Bridge), take a right to the Randall's Island Connector.  On the island, I told them, go left all the way to the water:  That stretch of the East River is known as Hell Gate.  

Most of my students don't live very far from the route.  Yet none realized that stretch is called Hell Gate.  And one student didn't even realize the post office in her neighborhood--the easternmost part of El Barrio, or East Harlem--is called Hell Gate Station (Zip Code 10035).

They think I'm dragging them through Hell in my class.  They are going to experience it only twice a week for a couple more weeks.  Me, I ride by it every day, on my way to meet them!


  1. When I hear "Hell's Gate," it brings to mind Wichita Falls, Texas, where it is the most famous stop along the "Hotter 'n Hell 100." At Hell's Gate, you can either ride the full 100 or take a 20 mile short cut which has the definite benefit of passing past a great aircraft display on Shepard Air Force Base. The only advantage to doing the full 100 is that some lawyers offer free beer near the end. Well, that and you can say you DID the full 100.

  2. Steve--Lawyers offering free beer? Hmmm.....

    Doing the full 100 or seeing a great aircraft display? That would be a tough choice--even if the temperature is 100 degrees.