Narrows is frequently used as a place-name to denote a constriction in a river, strait, valley, or pass. For example, The Narrows, between Staten Island and Brooklyn on the western tip of Long Island, has been spanned by the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge since 1964. From this lofty perch, the motorist has a magnificent panorama of the Lower and Upper Bays of New York Harbor. Narrows suggests, often strongly, a great turbulence and swiftness of waters. In the case of canyons, narrows are a downcutting slash, a thread of drainage, a dark-bluish passageway knifing through precipitous rock walls. A dramatic narrows on the Virgin River in Zion National Park, Utah, was brought to the world’s attention by John Wesley Powell. Once a hiker enters this Narrows—unless he turns back—it will be sixteen miles downstream before escape from its depths is possible. In some places the vertical walls are more than a thousand feet high, but only twenty to fifty feet apart. A stream in flood moves with extreme rapidity through narrows, pushing any debris encountered before it, scouring the channel, cleansing it of all but the smallest pieces of gravel.

Joy Williams