Two Sinkholes Open Up, With One Swallowing Cars

A sinkhole on 97th and Riverside Drive. Photo by Katherine Bell.

Sinkholes opened up in two places on the Upper West Side, and one even swallowed two cars.

First, on Thursday, the earth opened up in a field in Riverside Park near West 103rd Street. By Sunday it had widened and the earth around it looked close to giving way.

Then on Sunday, a sinkhole opened up on 97th Street and Riverside Drive. Last week, a storm there had caused a tree to fall and crush two cars, according to Nancy Mendoza. Workers removed the tree but there was clearly wider damage that wasn’t dealt with.

City Council Member Helen Rosenthal tweeted that she had been speaking with the Parks Department “about the impact of flooding on streets spilling into the park at 97th Street” the week before.

Photo by M.

The MTA routed the M5 bus away from the area after the cars fell into the hole, the Post reported.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection and other utilities are investigating, according to ABC7. There were no injuries.

Local Councilmember Mark Levine wrote that it’s time to spend more on infrastructure to keep this from happening.

NEWS | 27 comments | permalink
    1. Lizzie says:

      The sinkhole on RD near 97th Street is next to a low spot on the sidewalk that is perpetually full of water. Park workers continually slosh it out, only to have it fill up in the next rain.

      Clearly, there’s been a drainage problem there for years — not to mention the egregious flooding of the Dino playground in the same area, which floods with filthy water and mud running down from the street during heavy rains.

      The whole area needs serious infrastructure work. I’m not holding my breath.

    2. Preventing high rise construction, creating landmarked districts and adding bike lanes as priority issues has led to Riverside Drive being neglected for a long time. Fixing infrastructure is expensive, land marking costs very little, raising property values and taxes at no cost to city budgets is preferred. In November we will be re-electing the same people that have created our road to hell for the last twenty years with their good intensions. Meanwhile the ground is crumbling below our feet.

      • BillTg says:


      • Isaac says:

        What if we built more apartments and then used the resulting tax revenue to invest in our infrastructure?

        • We need to build housing designed to be affordable. Relying on tax revenues to build housing is what we are doing right now. It is unsustainable and subject to economic instability. Housing needs to pay for itself and not rely on government subsidies to build and maintain.

      • EricaC says:

        I’d love to hear your logic as to how reducing density increases the burden on infrastructure.

        • High density is what makes the city work. Stopping a few high rise buildings will not decrease burden on infrastructure. Much of our infrastructure is over 100 years old. It is antiquated and has been neglected for a long time. It is only fixed when it breaks.

          We have plenty of water, sewer and electrical capacity. New high rise buildings are more energy efficient and safer than the tenement walkups they replace. NYC zoning regulates density and many of our neighborhoods are under developed.

    3. Mark Moore says:

      I’m not usually the “sky is falling” type, but large parts of Riverside Park need serious work. The promenade above the train tunnel is already off limits to most vehicles because it’s falling apart.

    4. Irate Partisan says:

      First the pandemic, then the sinkholes

    5. Are we in the process of becoming Florida?

      Tropical humid heat everyday, raining every afternoon… I thought, well at least we have bedrock and schist instead of limestone but now what, sinkholes???

      So what’s next, alligators or pythons?

    6. Jean Siegel says:

      As Jeff Goldbloom said in Jurassic Park, “nature will find a way”.

    7. Marilyn says:

      Some publicity for the GIANT ones in Riverside Park by Ellington in the Park/105th Street dog run) & below, would be nice. They have been unattended to since the dead of winter!

    8. c'est-moi says:

      Are those in charge of the city asleep, or do they just not give a damn about doing their job and replacing infrastructure?
      All those tourists we’ve been putting up with in order for the City to have more money .. Where’d it go?
      Welcome to the most antiquated and neglected dump in the world. Shocking. Hold them responsible..!

      • jan says:

        logical snd basic right and wrong
        decisions are ignored.
        Yes the City IS going to the dogs

    9. Deb says:

      We never parked our car on Riverside Drive, and now we definitely never will.

    10. Peggy says:

      What exactly is sinkhole and how do they happen?

    11. Pure hubris. That whole 96th street area was a low point – Stryker’s Bay. The railroad was covered at a time when fill was not regulated. Don’t be surprised that its settling. Drains were installed in the 1880s. Do they last 150 years? Roads. We have a lot of roads and almost zero green infrastructure. Where does one expect the water to go?

      • Paul says:

        There are four documented sink holes in the area and only one is on a road.
        You’re right about the landfill, and gravity.
        Those are the causes.

      • Large projects to fix the park will be subject to environmental laws and may take long bouts of hearings and court battles to implement. The sunken areas may be subject to wetlands designations not allowing filling in of sunken areas. A newly formed swamp may have to remain if a single protected plant has rooted in the affected area.

    12. Jim Cash says:

      Is it too late to reelect bdb again. We need bold leadership.

    13. Stu says:

      I guess they don’t have to give up their parking spots on alternate parking days…
      (But given sinkholes and break-in/vandalizations on Riverside Drive, parking there is definitely at your own risk!)