The Bridge and Shuttle Crowd: 6 Ways to Get to Randall's Island for Frieze New York

05/03/2012 12:35 pm ET | Updated Jul 03, 2012

This week the art world jet set and many, many New Yorkers will visit a strange island for the first time in their lives to attend the inaugural Frieze New York art fair. Located at the juncture where the Harlem River and Long Island Sound meet to form the tidal strait known as the East River, Randall's Island -- so named for Jonathan Randel, who purchased it in 1784 and whose descendants sold it to the city for $60,000 in 1835 -- is actually fairly easy to get to. Still, in an effort to ease disproportionate concern over the exotic urban locale, Frieze is doing its best to make it seem even more accessible, and has even released a handy video detailing all the ways to make it there (embedded below). For those who prefer things in easy-to-scan textual form, we've got you covered:


Randall's Island/ Courtesy Guney Cuceloglu via Flick


Undoubtedly the most pleasant way of reaching the island during the fair will be aboard the Frieze Ferry, which will make the 20-minute trip between the 35th Street pier on the East River to Randall's Island every 15 minutes throughout the fair's opening hours. That said, the ferry landing isn't especially convenient -- unless you're getting there on the East River Ferry -- as the closest subway stop is the 6 train's 33rd Street station all the way over on Park Avenue. The ferry will be free for Frieze ticket-holders.


Throughout the duration of the fair, Frieze has comandeered a bunch of school busses to serve as a shuttle between the fair grounds on Randall's Island and the 125th Street-Lexington Avenue stop on the 4, 5, and 6 subway lines. The bus, like the ferry, will be free for all Frieze ticket-holders.


Those who, for one mysterious reason or another, don't want to take the Frieze bus, can hop on the M35 outside the 125th Street-Lexington Avenue station, which goes directly to Randall's Island and back to the East Harlem subway stop on a short loop.


Frieze attendees afraid of rubbing elbows with the plebes should expect a 15 minute ride by cab or car from the Upper East Side, or 30 minutes from Chelsea, according to the fair's Web site -- although those sound like very optimistic estimates to us, and should depend heavily on the time of day, given traffic conditions in Manhattan. There is parking for up to 1,500 cars on the island, and valet service will be available. BMW, one of Frieze's major sponsors, will be operating a fleet of VIP shuttles throughout the fair. The lucky few who get to ride to Randall's Island in the new beamers -- how you get one seems to be secret -- will do so to the tune of the Frieze Sounds commissioned audio works.


The closest boathouse is in Long Island City -- so this is going to be a long, long paddle. Also, in order to kayak or canoe you need a permit, which is not difficult to get -- but you must get it in advance.


Believe it or not, but pedestrians and cyclists coming from the 125th Street station or even from further may actually have it the easiest. They can take either the bridge at the end of 125th Street -- which will bring them across to Randall's Island just above the fair grounds -- or the car-free Ward's Island Bridge at the end of 102nd Street. That span drops riders and walkers at the southern end of Randall's Island -- which actually used to be a different island, Ward's, before Robert Moses had the gap between the two filled in the 1930s -- leaving them to take a leisurely waterfront stroll up to the fair. Visitors hoping to recreate the VIP experience can download the Frieze Sounds recordings to their iPods and listen to them on the ride or walk over.

-Benjamin Sutton, BLOUIN ARTINFO

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