View Full Version : The High Bridge aka Aqueduct Bridge

January 19th, 2003, 05:20 PM
Text from nycroads.com:

SUPPLYING AN EMERGING METROPOLIS WITH WATER: During the first decades of the nineteenth century, the rapid development of New York City required the construction of a far-reaching system to obtain clean water. Fires, pestilence and corruption ensued while the city's wells either ran dry or had become contaminated, providing impetus for the city's leaders to provide a long-term solution.

In 1833, the city established a Water Commission to plan a water supply system. Among the options for the water supply were the Bronx River, Morrisania Creek, Rye Pond and the Croton River. Major David B. Douglass, a hero from the War of 1812 and a West Point engineering professor, supported using the Croton River. Although this was the most expensive option, it could supply 40 million gallons of water a day to the city. The Croton Reservoir was also situated at a high level, so that it could supply the upper floors of city buildings.

On June 2, 1835, Douglass was appointed chief engineer of the Croton Aqueduct project. One of the centerpieces of the project was a high-level, multiple-arch bridge that was to "lend to New York some of the grandeur of imperial Rome." However, Douglas encountered early difficulties in Westchester County, the source of the Croton system. Local farmers demanded not only generous sums from the city, but also free water from the reservoirs. Nevertheless, the Water Commission suspected that the delays were due to corruption, and fired Douglas from his position.

In 1836, the Water Commission tapped John B. Jervis, an engineer with experience constructing the Delaware and Hudson Canal (where the town of Port Jervis was named after him) and the Erie Canal, was tapped to head the Croton Aqueduct project. Initially, Jervis was hesitant to undertake a project to construct a high-level arch bridge over the Harlem River. Jervis, who believed that municipal structures should be economical, instead argued for a low-level arched bridge with a 50-foot-draw.

However, local citizens argued that since the Croton Aqueduct was the greatest public work of its time, it deserved a monumental bridge - which was advanced earlier by Douglas - worthy of its nature. The "High Bridge" faction lobbied successfully for the New York State Legislature to pass a law requiring the aqueduct to either pass beneath the river by means of pipes, or to be placed on a high-level structure. Jervis reluctantly went along, and in 1837, the Water Commission accepted the High Bridge proposal. Construction of the bridge began two years later.

DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION: Jervis tapped James Renwick, Jr., a young engineer, to assist in the construction of the High Bridge. Renwick later went out to oversee the construction of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan.

From end to end, the High Bridge measures 1,450 feet in length. The original design consisted of 15 circular masonry arches, eight of which were 80 feet long (over the Harlem River and the New York Central-Harlem Line), and seven of which were 50 feet long (all of them over land). The arches over the Harlem River had a clearance of 114 feet above mean high water. Two 33-inch-diameter pipes were laid within the arch walls to conduct the water. Gate chambers at either end of the bridge regulated the flow of water across the bridge. Finally, a pedestrian walkway was constructed 135 feet above the Harlem River valley.

While the High Bridge took its design cues from the Roman aqueducts, it included the most contemporary design conventions of its time. The loads from above the arch ring were made hollow, having only the material needed for strength. Passages were provided from the spandrel walls to the hollow space in the piers to allow water that might fall between the parapets to exit into an opening in the pier near the high water line of the river. This follow space between the sidewalls of the arch reduced the dead weight.

In 1848, the High Bridge went into the service for the first time. When it was completed, the masonry Croton Aqueduct wound its way for more than 40 miles through forests, villages and cities from a dam on the Croton River to two high-walled, rectangular reservoirs in Manhattan, the Receiving Reservoir at Yorkhill (the site of the Central Park Great Lawn) and the Distributing Reservoir at Murray Hill (the site of the New York Public Library).

DESIGN CHANGES ON THE HIGH BRIDGE: In 1860, a third, 90-inch-diameter pipe was added to the High Bridge, and the floor of the bridge was raised to accommodate it. In 1872, the High Bridge Watchtower was erected to equalize water pressure from the Croton Aqueduct.

While the third pipe supplied the burgeoning population of Greater New York, still more water was necessary. In the early years of the twentieth century, the Water Commission oversaw construction of the New Croton Aqueduct and Catskill Reservoir systems. The New Croton Aqueduct system was completed in 1906, and the Catskill Reservoir system was completed in 1926.
The original Croton Aqueduct inside the High Bridge closed not because of any structural defects, but because of security risks. On February 3, 1917, the same day that the German ambassador was sent back when the United States entered World War I, the Water Commission shut down the aqueduct. With tunnels supplying the city's water, and the threat of sabotaging the aqueducts removed, it was now easier to patrol the water supply.

It was also at this time that the Army Corps of Engineers expressed concern that the High Bridge's narrow 80-foot-wide arches obstructed the navigation of large craft on the Harlem River. The Corps served notice to New York City officials, demanding that the bridge arches over the navigable channel have a horizontal clearance of at least 100 feet. To provide this minimum clearance, the Corps proposed removing two of the alternate bridge piers. Vertical clearances were to remain at 114 feet above mean high water.

Responding to the Corps' requests, the New York City Commissioner of Plant and Structures advocated demolishing the High Bridge on the grounds that water no longer flowed through the structure, and that it was more expedient to demolish the bridge than to remodel it.

Many professional organizations, along with ordinary New Yorkers, derided both the Army Corps of Engineers and the New York City Board of Plant and Structures proposals. The American Institute of Consulting Engineers, the American Institute of Architects, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Institute of Fine Arts all favored preserving the bridge. In a 1923 editorial in Scientific American magazine, destruction of the High Bridge was regarded as "an act of vandalism without precedent in the history of our country."

The Army Corps of Engineers, the Board of Plant and Structures and citizen groups reached a compromise on the future of the high bridge. The plan involved removing five of the eight 80-foot-wide arches, replacing them with a single steel-plate girder arch that had a lateral clearance of 360 feet. The $1 million replacement project was completed in 1927.

The High Bridge Watchtower continued to function as a pumping station until it ceased operating in 1949.

PART OF "FORGOTTEN" NEW YORK? Although it was designated a landmark by a landmark by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1970, the High Bridge has fallen into neglect in recent decades. That same year, the walkway was closed when a pedestrian threw a rock onto a Circle Line boat below, killing a tourist on the boat.

However, the High Bridge may not be forgotten for much longer. In the late 1990's, Henry Stern, New York City parks commissioner, has announced it will pursue funding to reopen the unused High Bridge walkway. The Parks Department, which now has jurisdiction over the bridge, plans the following rehabilitation projects on the High Bridge:

The department plans to spend $30 million to repair the main span. The work, which would focus on peeling paint, corrosion, loose mortar and frozen expansion joints, would be funded by state and Federal transportation and preservation dollars.

In a separate project, the department plans to rehabilitate the existing stairways, build new bicycle ramps, and install soft floodlights on the span. This project is estimated to cost $6 million.

No construction dates have been set for these projects. Reopening the span would require a safety inspection, which would cost an additional $1 million. The last detailed inspection in 1986 showed that the bridge was safe for pedestrian travel.

The view of the High Bridge (http://www.wirednewyork.com/bridges/high_bridge/default.htm) from High Bridge Park.


The view of the High Bridge (http://www.wirednewyork.com/bridges/high_bridge/default.htm) from Harlem River Drive.


The view of the High Bridge (http://www.wirednewyork.com/bridges/high_bridge/default.htm) from Harlem River Drive.


January 19th, 2003, 05:33 PM
Of course they should open the walkway...

January 20th, 2003, 05:13 PM
Edward, do you know if you can access High Bridge Park by bicycle now?

January 20th, 2003, 10:14 PM
Unfortunately, there is virtually no access to the High Bridge Park, whether by bicycle or on foot. It's a large park, *extending from 155th Street to Dyckman Street for about 45 blocks.

There is a stairway across the park somewhere around 159th Street. *The plaque on the stairway says "The Jonh T. Brush stairway presented by the New York Giants". You have to jump a fence to use the stairway. The area is called Coogan's Bluff (see some info below).

The Highbridge pool and Highbridge Tower are at 173rd Street (again some info below).

There are some trails in the park at several places. You find beatiful fences, staircases and promenades in a state of decay. See, for example the picture below of the area between Washington and Alexander Hamilton Bridges.

It is sad to see the park in such a sorry state, it could be a great place for recreation if taken care of.



Highbridge Park

Coogan’s Bluff, a large cliff extending northward from 155th Street in Manhattan, once was the site of the fabled Polo Grounds, home of the New York baseball Giants, and the first home of the New York Mets. It sits atop a steep escarpment that descends 175 feet below sea level. In 1891, John T. Brush (1845-1912), the Giants’s owner, bought the land for the stadium from James J. Coogan (1845-1915), a real estate merchant and Manhattan Borough President (1899-1901).

The Giants originally played in a polo field on 111th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Brush kept the name, Polo Grounds, when he moved the team to Coogan’s Bluff in 1891. In April 1911, the Polo Grounds, an elaborate wooden structure, burned to the ground. By October, the Giants were hosting the Philadelphia Athletics for the 1911 World Series in a rebuilt stadium of concrete and steel. The new Polo Grounds boasted box seats of Italian marble, ornamental American eagles on the balustrade, and blue and gold banners, 30 feet apart, flying from a cantilever roof. At the time, it was the premier Major League Baseball stadium.

Baseball soon established itself as the quintessential American game, and the New York Giants made significant contributions to 20th century baseball lore. Mel Ott (1909-1958) and Willie Mays (b.1931) are thought to be among the finest players of all time; and the names of Christy Mathewson (1878-1925) and Carl Hubbell (1903-1988) are still mentioned whenever great pitchers are discussed. The Giants also provided baseball with one of its most dramatic moments: “the shot heard round the world.” In 1951, the Giants and their arch-rivals the Brooklyn Dodgers were in the ninth inning of the deciding game in a play-off to determine the National League pennant winner. With two outs left in the game, the Dodgers were ahead 4-2 when Bobby Thomson came to bat for the Giants and hit a 3-run home run winning the game for the Giants, and making baseball history.

In 1957, the owner of the Giants, Horace Stoneham (1903-1990) broke many New York hearts when he announced that he was moving the Giants to San Francisco. The Polo Grounds remained for seven more years, serving as home to the New York Mets for the 1962 and 1963 seasons. In 1964 the stadium was demolished and now the Polo Grounds Towers, a housing project, occupies the site. All that is left of the original Polo Grounds is an old staircase on the side of the cliff that once led to the ticket booth.

Today, Coogan’s Bluff is part of Highbridge Park, which was assembled piecemeal between 1867 and the 1960s, with the bulk being acquired through condemnation from 1895 to 1901. The cliffside area from West 181st Street to Dyckman Street was acquired in 1902, and the parcel including Fort George Hill was acquired in 1928. The park extends from 155th Street in North Harlem to Dyckman Street in Washington Heights/Inwood. The Friends of Highbridge Park are involved in preserving the park's history and the New York Restoration Project has cleaned the park and restored its trails.


Highbridge Park

The Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center were built in 1936. The pool was the fifth of eleven city pools built with labor supplied by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA). It opened during the hot summer of 1936, leading Fortune magazine to dub 1936 “the swimming pool year.”

An avid swimmer since his college days as a freestyler at Yale, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888–1981, Parks Commissioner 1934-60) created many facilities that increased public access to New York’s water resources. Moses began a flurry of pool construction when he became New York City Parks Commissioner in 1934. Highbridge Pool opened July 14, 1936 with great fanfare; Moses and Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia (1882–1947) both attended the opening, and after the Mayor turned on a switch lighting the pool, a swimming and diving exhibition ensued. When it opened, the pool’s hours were 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and admission to the pool was 20 cents for adults and 10 cents for children.

Moses implemented many innovations to make the pools cleaner and more accessible to the public, including improved filtering systems and underwater lighting. He was able to build so many in part because, during the Depression, the Federal government was funding public works projects as a means of providing people with jobs. Moses and Mayor LaGuardia were able to secure a great deal of WPA funding for New York City, in part because its projects were so well organized. After the WPA disbanded in 1943, Moses continued to build pools, providing overheated New Yorkers with a place to swim, wade, or just beat the summer heat.

The High Bridge, for which the park, pool, and the center are named, was built in 1848 to carry the Old Croton Aqueduct over the Harlem River. Begun in 1837, High Bridge was once part of the first reliable and uninterrupted water supply system in New York City, the Old Croton Aqueduct. It was one of the first of its kind constructed in the United States. The innovative system ran 41 miles into New York City through an enclosed masonry structure crossing ridges, valleys, and rivers. The High Bridge soars 138 feet above the 620 foot-wide Harlem River, with a total length of 1450 feet.

Highbridge Park, located at 175th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, was assembled piecemeal between 1867 and the 1960s, with the bulk being acquired through condemnation from 1895 to 1901. The cliffside area from West 181st Street to Dyckman Street was acquired in 1902, and the parcel including Fort George Hill was acquired in 1928. In 1934 the Department of Parks obtained the majestic Highbridge Tower (1872) and the site of old High Bridge Reservoir. The recreation center and pool were built on the site of the old reservoir

Parks’s Monuments shop has been located for decades underneath the pool complex, which was renovated in 1985 following a three year, $9.1 million project. The 165-foot by 228-foot pool was made handicap accessible, the main pool building, concessions building, and filter building were repaired, and new heating, ventilation, electrical and filtration systems. Mayor Giuliani funded a $305,000 renovation of the pool’s filtration system in 1996 and Council Member Guillermo Linares funded a $445,000 upgrade of the pool’s heating and ventilation systems. In 2001 Council Members Linares and Stanley E. Michels and Borough President C. Virginia Fields funded a nearly $1 million renovation of the recreation center that added volleyball and basketball courts, ensuring that the facility will continue to serve New Yorkers for many years to come.

January 21st, 2003, 12:40 AM
Excellent articles! *And, such a rich history lesson to complement the photographs. Thanks, Edward. *I learn more in a week on this forum, (about NY) than I have in a lifetime.

May 11th, 2003, 09:35 AM
Good news CMANDALA. Bike and camera ready.

May 11th, 2003, 10:17 AM
Limits photo-ops. No big lenses.

January 18th, 2004, 11:12 PM
I got an email about the High Bridge reproduced below; anyone can collaborate the opinion?

... I don't know where the rumor that the High Bridge was closed in the early 1970s after a fatal rock throwing incident, but it is pure nonsense, the result of lazy newspaper reporters who don't know how to, or don't care to, research. I have been attempting to ascertain exactly when it was closed, and have thus far been unable to, but it was definitely between 1958 and 1968, and most likely between 1958 and 1962. I have conducted an exhaustive, extensive study of the New York Times Archives. On April 20, 1958, four youths threw bricks, sticks, and rocks onto the Circle Line as it passed under the High Bridge. Four people were injured, none seriously. When the New York Press ran a story on the High Bridge, someone wrote the next week, stating that he had moved to the Highbridge section of the Bronx in 1962, and the bridg had been closed even then. A New York Times reporter who followed the trail of the Croton Aqueduct in 1968 stated that the High ridge was closed.

January 21st, 2004, 09:30 AM
High Bridge, 1900.

Washington Bridge, 1901.


January 21st, 2004, 10:08 AM
I don't know what year it closed, but it was already closed in the late 60s.

January 31st, 2004, 01:39 AM

November 28th, 2005, 11:08 PM
Inside High Bridge Watchtower (http://www.wirednewyork.com/harlem/high_bridge_watchtower/). 9 October 2005.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/harlem/high_bridge_watchtower/high_bridge_tower_interior.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/harlem/high_bridge_watchtower/)

http://www.wirednewyork.com/harlem/high_bridge_watchtower/high_bridge_tower_people.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/harlem/high_bridge_watchtower/)

November 28th, 2005, 11:30 PM
Very neat. Impressive access, Edward.

November 29th, 2005, 12:22 AM
The view of the High Bridge (http://www.wirednewyork.com/bridges/high_bridge/) from High Bridge Watchtower (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/../harlem/high_bridge_watchtower/default.htm). 9 October 2005.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/bridges/high_bridge/images/high_bridge_tower.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/bridges/high_bridge/)

August 21st, 2006, 04:43 PM







(c) The New York Public Library : http://digital.nypl.org/mmpco/index.cfm

Now :



Gregory Tenenbaum
August 22nd, 2006, 04:20 AM
What a beauty!

Great illustrations/photos!

August 22nd, 2006, 07:48 AM
Harlem River is such a lost opportunity. Highway on both sides.

Could be recreational. Grand promenade and housing. Built up.

November 17th, 2006, 04:48 AM
November 17, 2006
High Price Tag Given to Open High Bridge

The city’s oldest standing bridge, a long-closed structure named the High Bridge linking Manhattan to the Bronx, has no significant structural problems but needs $20 million to $30 million of work to reopen, according to a study scheduled to be released today.

It is unclear, however, where the money to reopen the High Bridge would come from and when the bridge might reopen, city officials said yesterday. A complete restoration would cost $60 million, said Ashe Reardon, a spokesman for the city’s Parks Department. The department alone does not have the money for the full project and has no plans to undertake it, parks officials said.

The pedestrian-only bridge, a city landmark that spans the Harlem River, was completed in 1848 as part of the Old Croton Aqueduct system, which first brought fresh water to Manhattan. But it has been closed since about 1970, according to the Parks Department.

It is blocked on both sides by a heavy metal gate and razor wire, though it is a common sight in the summer to see children from the Bronx neighborhoods around Yankee Stadium climbing the fence and crossing the bridge to reach the public swimming pool on the Manhattan side of Highbridge Park.

Though the bridge’s future remains unclear, Representative José E. Serrano, who represents the South Bronx, said the generally positive engineering study conducted by Baker Engineering NY Inc., based in Brooklyn, was a step toward reopening the High Bridge.

When the High Bridge opened, the 1,450-foot-long bridge was hailed as an engineering marvel. It was built to bring water from the Old Croton Aqueduct into Manhattan during a period of explosive city growth.

A walkway was added only after the bridge and its distinctive circular archways, modeled after a Roman aqueduct, became a tourist attraction. In the 1920s the bridge’s center masonry arches were declared a hazard to navigation and replaced by a single steel span.

The Parks Department has said the High Bridge had been closed primarily because people were throwing objects from the bridge at passing boats. To prevent that in the future, the report calls for a barrier along the pedestrian walkway.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

June 8th, 2007, 09:45 AM
New life for city’s oldest bridge

by amy zimmer / metro new york

JUN 8, 2007

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS. According to urban legend, the High Bridge was closed in the 1960s because kids threw stones onto the Circle Line.

There’s no criminal record of that incident, but crime was a factor for closing the pedestrian walkway on the city’s oldest bridge, which spans the Harlem River. Now, the city and community groups are working together to reopen the High Bridge, built in 1848 as part of the Old Croton Aqueduct system that brought fresh water to Manhattan.

The city committed $60 million toward the renovation, one of several major park projects highlighted in the Bloomberg administration’s sustainability plan.

“Closing the bridge made both sides less safe,” said Lourdes Hernandez-Cordero, a staff associate at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and co-chair of the High Bridge Coalition. “High Bridge became the haunted house on the hill. Now we have to bring people back.”

She has been encouraging that through CLIMB (City Life is Moving Bodies), which organizes hikes through Highbridge Park — 119 acres of which are in Washington Heights, where there’s a rec center, pool, ball fields and a newly opened mountain bike trail.

Because the Highbridge side of the park is less than one acre, many South Bronx kids use the bridge to access the recreation facilities, said Chancy Young, an education activist.

“They’ve been illegally using the bridge all the time to get there,” Young said. Scaling the giant metal doors is quicker than taking the Bx13 bus across.

Parks Dept. Commissioner Adrian Benepe said Highbridge Park has come a long way over the past 10 years. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, “the park was a dumping ground for hundreds of cars, including one with a body in the trunk,” Benepe said. “It’s on the side of a cliff, and doing anything there will always be a challenge.”

Benepe wants the bridge opened and made safer, and though the original rail and brickwork may need to go, he said, “We’ll keep it brick, even if it has to be replaced.” He anticipates the bridge will be open in four years.

David Anthony, 31, a photographer who lives on 170th Street, headed down to the locked gate yesterday to show a friend. The first time he climbed over was seven years ago.

“I love to walk on it,” he said. “I’d be here all the time if it re-opened, though it might lose some of its appeal because it’s one of the last places where you can walk out over the river and you’re alone.”

High who?

Because the High Bridge has been closed so long, many people don’t know it exists, said David Rivel, executive director of the City Parks Foundation, which is working with the Parks Dept. “They say, ‘You mean the High Line?’” To get community input, the Parks Dept. is holding a “listening session” on June 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Highbridge Recreation Center, 2301 Amsterdam Ave.

© 2007 Metro. All Rights Reserved. (http://ny.metro.us/metro/local/article/New_life_for_citys_oldest_bridge/8926.html)

October 16th, 2007, 12:20 PM
NY Daily News
October 16, 2007

City's High Bridge to get makeover & reopen in 2011


The High Bridge spans the Harlem River.

Workmen restore the High Bridge, a 159-year-old city and National Historic Landmark that was shut down 40 years ago.

The Bridge connects Washington Heights to Highbridge.

Lourdes Hernández Cordero works just blocks from Highbridge Park in Washington Heights, but never noticed the long-shuttered elegant 19th-century pedestrian bridge that gave the park its name.

When the Columbia University researcher first stumbled onto the High Bridge - which starts in the park and spans the Harlem River, connecting Washington Heights to the Bronx's Highbridge neighborhood - she was stunned.

"It was like bumping into a treasure hidden in a big chest and dusting it off and saying, 'Oh my God. I have to put this in a place of honor,'" she said.

She's not the only one who feels that way about the 159-year-old span, which is both a city landmark and a National Historic Landmark.

In 2001, 48 city agencies and nonprofit groups formed a coalition to lobby for the reopening of the High Bridge, whose graceful stone arches support a walkway that rises 116 feet over the river.

This spring, Mayor Bloomberg included the High Bridge in his PlaNYC, and pledged $64 million to get it back into shape. The bridge is expected to reopen in 2011 - more than 40 years after it closed.

The High Bridge once was a key link in the city's old aqueduct system and played an important role in the life of the neighborhoods on both ends.

"A lot of people still talk about their links to friends and family on the other side," said Amy Gavaris, executive vice president of the New York Restoration Project.

"It matters to people in these communities that they were cut off from one another," added Gavaris, whose group was founded by entertainer Bette Midler and has done extensive restoration work in Highbridge Park.

The bridge's closing coincided with the slide of surrounding areas into dangerous, crime-ridden districts. The 116-acre Highbridge Park became a spot for drug dealing and stashing stolen cars.

"In 1997, when our crews first went in, the vegetation was so thick that the only way you could tell there were paths in there was because the lampposts were poking out of the vines," said Gavaris.

Now, there is hope the park and the bridge will support one another's rebirth. The bridge also will make it easier for Bronx residents to get to the park's huge pool and recreation center.

"If the bridge were open, there would be a reason to go through the park," said Gavaris.

The reopened High Bridge also will form a key link between the Bronx and Manhattan segments of the city's greenway, a citywide system of pathways for bike riders and pedestrians.

Work on the bridge - which will include the addition of access paths, ramps, signs and fences, as well as repair of the bridge's patterned brick walkway and stone arches - is expected to begin in 2009.

Hernández-Cordero is thrilled that the High Bridge is coming back. A group she founded to create a walking trail throughout the parks of upper Manhattan - City Life is Moving Bodies (C.L.I.M.B.) - has been part of the coalition pushing for the span's restoration.

She looks forward to the day when the bridge will be part of her group's network of walking trails.

"We are working on the side of community engagement," she said. "We want to ensure that people will love and take care of it and use it."

© Copyright 2007 NYDailyNews.com

March 26th, 2008, 11:35 AM

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Peering up the winding iron staircase in the water tower at Highbridge Park in Washington Heights. The tower was built in 1872 as part of the Croton Aqueduct system, which had started bringing a dependable supply of fresh water into New York City in 1842, and it remained in use as a pumping station until 1949.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company.

August 27th, 2008, 02:30 PM
New York Sun

Bloomberg Unveils Restored Path to Historic Bridge

By Special to the Sun | August 27, 2008

A $60 million plan to reopen the city's oldest bridge moved closer to reality yesterday as Mayor Bloomberg (http://www.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=Michael+Bloomberg) unveiled a newly restored $4.2 million access path leading to Washington Heights (http://www.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=Washington+Heights)'s historic High Bridge.

At a press conference at Highbridge Park in Manhattan (http://www.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=Manhattan), Mr. Bloomberg said the park was at "the beginning of a new era" after years of neglect.

An Assembly member, Adriano Espaillat, whose district includes the park, said that the now-pristine area was once a "homeless city," overrun with squatters and filled with trash and abandoned cars.

Work on the High Bridge, which was built in 1848 and has been closed down since the 1970s, is slated to begin next spring.

Renovations on the bridge are expected to be completed in 2012 and will include restoring and reinforcing its stone structure, repairing its walkway, and adding a safety fence.

August 27th, 2008, 04:38 PM
Great news -- that whole stretch of parkway above the river there is a gem,
and well worth the trip for those in need of an adventure.

August 28th, 2008, 06:27 AM
... adding a safety fence.
Is that to keep folks from dropping cinder blocks on passing cars?

August 28th, 2008, 10:44 AM
Yeah, 'cause everyone knows that here folks toss cinder blocks at passing cars all the time if they have the chance.

August 29th, 2008, 04:07 PM
^ I guess I got it confused with England. Grist for Gregory's mill: http://www.northantset.co.uk/news/Anger-as-yobs-drop-brick.4412898.jp

October 20th, 2008, 05:56 PM
Harlem Hybrid (http://harlemhybrid.blogspot.com/)

A photoblog of Harlem, New York

Monday, October 20, 2008

Green Harlem--The Highbridge Edition (http://harlemhybrid.blogspot.com/2008/10/green-harlem-highbridge-edition.html)

Aside from the great people and architecture, another reason why I love Harlem is the abundance of under-utilized green space. Boasting at least 7 large Parks, Harlem forms an integral part of the Emerald Highway for migrating birds. Combined with the sparse use, these areas lend themselves to a complete "Natural Immersion" which I find necessary to balance out the otherwise frenetic and crowded feel of downtown. One of my favorite Parks which embodies these ideals is Highbridge Park, and on Sunday, I got a chance to go up in the iconic Watertower for the first time. (I did once get to crawl inside the watertunnel--will dig out those pix later). Without further ado, Highbridge Park!


More photographs HERE (http://harlemhybrid.blogspot.com/2008/10/green-harlem-highbridge-edition.html)


October 31st, 2008, 12:27 PM
Thanks for the link to my bloggy: http://harlemhybrid.blogspot.com

I just posted some more pix out over the Harlem River and inside the water tunnel. I hope you like.



October 31st, 2008, 03:16 PM
Welcome to Wired New York yojimbot.

I look forward to viewing your new photo's

November 4th, 2008, 11:46 AM






November 5th, 2008, 08:01 PM
Some amazing photos of high bridge from asg: wondering how one can get up there to take photos - I doubt it is 'officially' open.

Also, the high bridge photos posted by yojimbot (and many other on that blog site) were well worth the click. ;)

Thanks for the memories.


P.S. In reference to some of the 'other' photos (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=259281&postcount=26) on YOJIMBOT's blog; I saw 'Wonder Woman' (and friends) while walking in that area the other day - she's hot! :D

November 6th, 2008, 10:25 AM
asg, those pix of the underside of the aquaduct are amazing. the cast iron has held up pretty well.

December 7th, 2008, 03:41 PM
I do an annual Harlem Hawk Walk...the results are on my other blog,

Last few are about the Hawks that nest in Highbridge Park.

December 7th, 2008, 04:26 PM
Most enjoyable YJ, thanks for posting.

December 7th, 2008, 04:49 PM
Great photos at your blog (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=264245&postcount=14): thanks (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8240).


August 6th, 2010, 06:25 AM
Landmark Tower in Washington Heights Closed for Repairs

By Carla Zanoni

Contractors stabilized the 1872 structure, but there will be no public access until $1 million in repairs are completed.

slide show (http://dnainfo.com/20100805/washington-heights-inwood/landmark-tower-washington-heights-closed-for-repairs/slideshow/popup/30551)

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WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — The High Bridge Water Tower, one of northern Manhattan’s best-known structures, was closed indefinitely to the public this week because of safety concerns and will likely need $1 million in repairs, the Parks Department said.

Parks officials said they were so alarmed by the condition of the tower's roof and windows that a contractor was called in on an emergency basis this week to secure the structure, which dates back to 1872 and is landmarked.

After stabilizing the structure, the contractor told the Parks Department that the tower was no longer a danger to the immediate area.

Parks is currently planning a more extensive assessment of the concrete and steel frame of the majestic tower, which overlooks the scenic Harlem River along 174th Street near Amsterdam Avenue.

The department has been pressing city and state elected officials for the past two years to approve funding to upgrade and repair the windows, iron stair treads, hand rails and the Carillon bells, which were last heard in 1957, said Parks spokeswoman Cristina DeLuca.

The building has a long history of neglect. In the 1980s the High Bridge Tower fell into disrepair when someone set a fire that burned down the tower’s roof, the New York Times reported. Parks fixed the roof afterwards, spending $900,000 on the restoration.

The area surrounding the tower is also undergoing a large-scale renovation, with $60 million being spent on the restoration to the High Bridge, a pedestrian bridge connecting Manhattan to the Bronx across the Harlem River. The bridge is part of a $96 million investment in the surrounding Highbridge Park.

DeLuca said the agency will conduct a more detailed scope of needed work on the tower once a thorough assessment of the structure is completed.


May 3rd, 2011, 08:33 PM
NY Daily News
October 16, 2007

City's High Bridge to get makeover & reopen in 2011
4 year *bump*, any updates?

May 3rd, 2011, 08:59 PM
Now that you mention it...


Mind the Gap

Plans to open New York City's oldest bridge approved by Landmarks.

Courtesy NYC Parks

Nearly 165 years after opening to citywide fanfare, the High Bridge is one step closer to regaining its former prominence—though not, some say, its former beauty. In a public hearing on April 5, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) considered an application to rehabilitate and reopen the city’s oldest existing bridge, which was built in 1848 to extend the Old Croton Aqueduct across the Harlem River. Following its construction, the High Bridge quickly became a popular attraction for New York City residents who thronged to promenade across its scenic span. The bridge was celebrated for decades as a vital link between the Bronx and Manhattan and a picturesque symbol of the aqueduct’s role in bringing water to the city. Although declared a city landmark in 1970, the bridge was closed to the public soon afterward and currently lies in disrepair behind locked doors and barbed wire.

The rehabilitation design stems from the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation’s 2006 announcement that the High Bridge would reopen as part of the PlaNYC initiative. At the LPC hearing, members of the design team offered a history of the structure as the context for their proposal. As Meisha Hunter, a senior preservationist at Li/Saltzman Architects, emphasized, “This bridge has been inextricably linked with a history of modification and change,” most notably the 1928 replacement of five of its masonry arches with a single steel arch to facilitate navigation of the Harlem River. It will also join two other recent and well-received elevated walkways in the area—New York’s High Line and Walkway Over Hudson in Poughkeepsie.



Plans for the new project, due for completion in 2013, include a physical restoration and the installation of access ramps, viewing platforms, and lighting. For many community members, the major point of contention is an eight-foot cable mesh fence that would run the bridge’s span. The design team defended the fence as necessary for public safety and crime prevention, primarily by preventing people from jumping or throwing objects from the bridge. However, opponents believe this addition would be unnecessarily tall, and fear it would overwhelm the bridge’s historic appearance and spoil its river views.

Several community representatives attending the hearing spoke against this element of the design, which Ebenezer Smith, district manager of Community Board 12, declared “insulting.” Rather than preventing misconduct, he said, the fence would alienate tourists by inadvertently suggesting the presence of criminal activity.

Charlotte Fahn, a member of Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct (FOCA), agreed. “The best way to have security on this bridge is to draw more people,” noting that the best way to draw more people “is to have great unimpeded views,” she testified.

While several commissioners expressed similar concerns, the general consensus of the LPC was that the fence’s potential reversibility makes up for any perceived shortcomings, and the priority should be reopening the bridge as soon as possible. Ultimately, the LPC approved the plans with a vote of seven to one.

For Robert Kornfeld, an architect who testified on behalf of FOCA and the Historic Districts Council for the High Bridge plans, the hearing was bittersweet. “We’re a hundred percent for this project. No one’s trying to bog it down,” he said, but he was “surprised” that the LPC was not willing to consider tweaking the fence design for the sake of preserving the views that once drew crowds to the bridge. “After all the work we’ve done to advocate, it’d really be a shame to see it desecrated in order to make it accessible.”

Tatum Taylor

Copyright © 2003-2011 | The Architect's Newspaper, LLC

May 3rd, 2011, 09:32 PM
... the general consensus of the LPC was that the fence’s potential reversibility makes up for any perceived shortcomings ...

This is LPC's latest and most often used excuse for boneheadedness.

The bulk of Commissioners offered the same reasoning for their recent approval at 510 Fifth, where the entire floor will be demolished, the original escalator torn out and then the whole thing re-structured to move the escalator so some guy from Canada can sell more jeans.

One dimwit LPC-er actually said, "Well, the escalators can always be put back at some time in the future."


August 2nd, 2012, 06:15 AM
High Time for the High Bridge Pedestrian Bridge

by Tom Stoelker

http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_13-500x332.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_13.jpg)
Construction is about to start on High Bridge. (Courtesy New Yorkers for Parks)

There’s a scene in Edith Wharton’s 1913 novel Custom of the Country, where the wicked vixen Undine Spragg insists on speeding across the High Bridge in a “horseless carriage” before making her grand entrance at a party so as to rouge her cheeks with a cold snap of air whipping up from the Harlem River. The romantic fascination accorded the then-65-year-old bridge quietly slipped from New York’s consciousness as bigger engineering marvels usurped its quiet dignity.

Now approaching 165 years, renovations are about to get underway to finally restore the bridge to its former glory as a 1,200-foot-long pedestrian bridge, uniting neighborhoods of High Bridge and Washington Heights in the Bronx and Manhattan. New Yorkers for Parks (http://www.ny4p.org/) stopped by the span Monday afternoon to document current conditions before construction is in full swing, giving us a hint of Undine’s views. Though controversial netting (http://archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=5344) integrated into the design might mildly disrupt the vista, Monday’s photos show it the way it was, albeit slightly overgrown.

http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_01-150x150.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_01.jpg) http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_02-150x150.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_02.jpg) http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_03-150x150.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_03.jpg) http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_04-150x150.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_04.jpg) http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_05-150x150.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_05.jpg) http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_06-150x150.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_06.jpg) http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_07-150x150.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_07.jpg) http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_08-150x150.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_08.jpg) http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_09-150x150.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_09.jpg) http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_10-150x150.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_10.jpg) http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_11-150x150.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_11.jpg) http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_12-150x150.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_12.jpg) http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_13-150x150.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_13.jpg) http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_15-150x150.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_15.jpg) http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_16-150x150.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_16.jpg) http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_17-150x150.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_17.jpg) http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_18-150x150.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_18.jpg) http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_14-150x150.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_14.jpg)

(all photos Courtesy New Yorkers for Parks)


August 2nd, 2012, 09:08 AM
Awesome old bridge.

I am glad they are restoring it, but it took them this long to do so? How long has it been sitting untouched?

August 2nd, 2012, 11:12 AM
God I hate that fence. It turns the experience into being inside a cage at the zoo. But as long as we live in a society in which misguided youth think its funny to drop large objects on people's heads (see several recent examples from here in the City, and from lots of other cities), then I am not sure what else can be done. It's a shame.

August 2nd, 2012, 12:06 PM
They need to find a less obtrusive way to do the same thing.

December 7th, 2012, 11:51 AM
I have a picture of me on this bridge when I was apprx. 5 or 6 years old and I'm now 81 years old. Used to swim in Highbridge Pool and have June Walks (picnics) under the bridge. Family lived on Ogden Ave. on top of the best snow-sledding street in The Bronx.

January 12th, 2013, 08:16 AM
New York City Breaks Ground on High Bridge Restoration

by Branden Klayko

http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_02-500x332.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/high_bridge_02.jpg)
(Courtesy New Yorkers for Parks)

Officials broke ground today on the long anticipated restoration of New York’s High Bridge (http://archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=5344) connecting the Bronx with Manhattan. Built in 1848 and today the city’s oldest bridge, the 1,200-foot-long span had long been a popular strolling bridge, even making an appearance in Edith Wharton’s 1913 novel Custom of the Country (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/archives/43752). The landmarked bridge was closed to the public in the 1970s, but after construction wraps up on the $61 million rehabilitation, strolling New Yorkers and bicyclists can once again cross high above the Harlem River—116 feet—and connect with the city’s growing waterfront Greenway. (See also: Photos of High Bridge before renovation (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/archives/43752).)

Improvements include pedestrian safety measures like accessibility ramps, viewing platforms, and new lighting. An eight-foot-tall cable mesh fence to prevent jumpers and throwing trash will also line each side, a point that drew criticism from some in the community (http://archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=5344) who believe it’s unnecessary and will spoil views. In a statement released at the groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called High Bridge “one of our city’s great treasures.” He continued, “It will bring people here from all over the five boroughs, and even all over the world, to see some of the most spectacular views in the city.”


January 12th, 2013, 10:20 AM
Fantastic. This bridge is a monument to itself.

January 14th, 2013, 09:14 AM
What is that lattice steel crap attached to it in the foreground?

January 14th, 2013, 09:52 AM
read from the start of the thread and you will understand. It's too bad the entire original bridge wasn't preserved

January 14th, 2013, 12:55 PM
Ah, got lazy.

Although I like the shape of the main span.. seeing it compared to the stone portions.........

September 18th, 2013, 09:42 AM
Photos: An Exclusive Exploration Inside & Atop The High Bridge, NYC's Oldest Bridge

(photos by Evan Bindelglass / Gothamist)


http://galleries.gothamistllc.com/asset/523777b6e0fbc07d6f236fe4/square/02.JPG http://galleries.gothamistllc.com/asset/523777b6e0fbc07d6f236fe4/square/01.JPG http://galleries.gothamistllc.com/asset/523777b6e0fbc07d6f236fe4/square/03.JPG http://galleries.gothamistllc.com/asset/523777b6e0fbc07d6f236fe4/square/04.jpg http://galleries.gothamistllc.com/asset/523777b6e0fbc07d6f236fe4/square/07.JPG http://galleries.gothamistllc.com/asset/523777b6e0fbc07d6f236fe4/square/33.jpg http://galleries.gothamistllc.com/asset/523777b6e0fbc07d6f236fe4/square/34.jpg

New York is a city of bridges—there are 20 connected to Manhattan island alone. This is the story of the city’s oldest bridge, a story older than the Civil War. It's the story of a bridge most notable not for what was carried on its deck, but for what was carried on the inside. This is the story of the High Bridge.

Recently, I was lucky enough to take a tour of the High Bridge (http://gothamist.com/tags/highbridgepark) from staff of both the NYC Parks Department and the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC).

The High Bridge spans the Harlem River to connect the area around West 170th Street in the Bronx to the area around West 173rd Street in Manhattan. (Why West 173rd Street and not East, since this is eastern Manhattan? Because it is technically west of 5th Avenue.)

The bridge was part of the Old Croton Aqueduct (http://www.nycgovparks.org/park-features/virtual-tours/old-croton-aqueduct-trail) and literally brought New York City its lifeblood: clean water. 

The aqueduct went into service in 1842, with one pipe crossing the Harlem River somewhere around river level. The bridge was built around it with one 36-inch pipe inside and was completed in 1848. After the initial pipe was removed, a second 36-inch pipe was added to the inside the bridge.

According to Ellen Macnow, High Bridge Project Coordinator for the Parks Department, the origin of the bridge's name goes back to the 1830s, when there was a debate over whether to build a low bridge, a high bridge, or a tunnel. They went with a high bridge and now we have the High Bridge.


The original 36-inch pipes were replaced by a single 90-inch pipe in 1861 or 1862, but plugs from the original 36-inch pipes remain inside the bridge. 

According to Macnow, the water service continued inside the bridge with only two notable interruptions.

The first was in the 1920s when the five stone arches that crossed the river were removed and in 1927, a single steel span replaced them. The reason for their removal was to improve navigability on the Harlem River for both military and commercial purposes. Because other sources of water were already flowing into Manhattan, the entire bridge was nearly demolished. But it was saved, in part, for history's sake.

The second notable interruption occurred during World War II, when officials feared sabotage.

 "It really tells the story of New York City," Macnow said of the bridge. "It tells the story of the needs of New Yorkers. It tells the story of politics and finance."

One particular story about the High Bridge stands out as both sinister and apocryphal.

 "The urban legend is that somebody on the bridge threw something off and killed a person on the Circle Line," Macnow said. "The true story, I found in the New York Times, is that there were youths—'hoodlums' in the parlance of the day—in 1952, 1953, 1954, who were throwing things off the bridge and they injured people on the Circle Line and nobody has forgotten that story." Macnow added, 

"Now we want to give the bridge a new story."

Water continued flowing through the bridge until 1958, and people were able to cross on its deck 116 feet above the Harlem River until about 1970. Since then, it has been off-limits to the public (http://gothamist.com/2008/08/28/high_bridge.php#photo-1), but the city is in the midst of a $61 million project (http://www.nycgovparks.org/park-features/highbridge-park/planyc) to rehabilitate the bridge and reopen the deck.

The project is a joint effort between the Parks Department. and the DDC, and is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's PlaNYC.

 Officials hope to open the deck of High Bridge to the public in June of 2014, reconnecting the Highbridge neighborhood with Washington Heights and allowing residents to walk or bike across the historic 1,200-foot-long structure.

"Just the idea of that reconnection has tremendous symbolism, I think, for both communities," says David Burney, Commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction. "It's this piece of industrial archeology, this huge pipe system that was carrying water across and into Manhattan that we're preserving and keeping as a piece of history," Burney says, "We do a lot of bridge reconstruction. But this is very special."

Some are already hailing the High Bridge as another High Line-like project.

"Long linear spaces en vogue in New York City," admitted Jennifer McCardle Hoppa, Administrator for Northern Manhattan Parks for the Parks Department. 

As part of the project, the bridge deck will be restored and parts of it will be resurfaced. (An interesting thing to note is that the original stone arch portion of the bridge—and one stone arch remains on the Manhattan side—was surfaced in a herringbone pattern, but the steel portion was not.)

The original railings are also being restored for re-installation, but they are very short. So a new 8-foot-tall outer safety fence will be added behind them. But don't worry, you'll be able to focus your camera through them to get pictures about as unobstructed as those you would take from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building.

Macnow said the work being done now is designed so that no significant work will be needed for another 30 to 50 years.

 While only the bridge deck will be open the public, the city has been doing work restoring and cleaning up the inside of the bridge as well. We asked one of the engineers on the project if anything surprising was found inside. His answer: raccoon skeletons.

more photos (http://gothamist.com/2013/09/17/photos_high_bridge_harlem.php#photo-1)

September 18th, 2013, 09:47 AM
pretty cool, I recommend clicking on the pictures from the website "full screen" and scrolling through

September 18th, 2013, 09:57 AM
Awesome old bridge, but I am still disappointed at the mid-span replacement.

And I am still wondering about that unlucky engineer... :(

October 24th, 2013, 07:40 AM
Harlem River, Cut Off From Public, Is Getting a Push Out of Isolation


Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
New York City is rebuilding the High Bridge, a pedestrian crossing whose arches span the
Harlem River and connect Upper Manhattan and the Bronx.

One by one, the rivers around Manhattan have emerged from decades of industrial abuse. The Hudson River has its five-mile ribbon of parkland and active kayaking community; the Bronx River, the occasional beaver sighting; and the East River, a popular ferry service — all contributing to the sense that New York is, in fact, a river city.

Swindler Cove is on the river in Sherman Creek Park, once an illegal dumping ground.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/10/23/nyregion/HARLEM3/HARLEM3-popup.jpg
Mill Pond Park, a 10-acre oasis with tennis courts in the Bronx.

One waterway has lagged, however. The Harlem River, a 9.3-mile channel that flows from the Hudson River to the East River, remains gritty and industrial. Major highways and train tracks cut the public off from the water on the Bronx side, and pipes that discharge raw sewage during heavy rains dot both shores.

But there are signs of progress, with public and private investment pouring into new and existing parks. And there is now a robust circle of advocates pressing the river’s case.

“It’s one of the most alluring, but unmet water frontiers in New York,” said Roland Lewis, president of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, an umbrella organization of nonprofit boating groups and maritime businesses. “When you’re on the Circle Line, you’re amazed at the beauty. But there is virtually no access on either side.”

Perhaps the clearest indication that the city is committed to the Harlem River is the $62 million reconstruction of the High Bridge, whose lofty Roman-style arches span the river and connect Upper Manhattan and the Bronx. The pedestrian bridge, opened in 1848, was a popular gathering spot in the early 1900s, a place where people took in the scenery in the latest fashions.

The bridge fell into disrepair and closed for good in the early 1970s. Reviving the bridge, which extends from Highbridge Park on the Manhattan bank, was one of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s most ambitious park initiatives. When it opens next year, the bridge — still off limits to cars — will give the park-deprived residents of the South Bronx access to the greener landscape across the river, in particular the 130-acre Highbridge Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/highbridgepark), with its enormous outdoor pool.

“It’s really the centerpiece of the Harlem River corridor,” said Jennifer M. Hoppa, the parks department’s administrator of parks in northern Manhattan, referring to the High Bridge project. “It’s the midpoint.”

Highbridge Park, which is separated from the river by the Harlem River Drive, overlooks an important link in the Bloomberg administration’s plan to create an uninterrupted greenway around Manhattan, with bicycle and walking paths. The city has invested $1 million into upgrades for an esplanade that runs from 162nd to 200th Street.
But to the south, from 162nd Street to 120th, gaps remain.

One can see and feel the river more easily in Manhattan than in the Bronx, where train tracks hug the eastern shore. In 2007, parks officials created five street-end parks in the Inwood section of Manhattan: miniplazas with benches overlooking the river. One park, at 202nd Street, has steps descending to the water for kayaks and other light craft. “It’s something we could do quickly, since the city had control of the street ends,” Ms. Hoppa said.

Perhaps the most dramatic addition of parkland on the Harlem River has come from a nonprofit group, the New York Restoration Project (http://www.nyrp.org/), founded by Bette Midler. After cleaning up Fort Tryon and Fort Washington Parks on the Hudson, the group turned its focus to the Harlem River. Working with the parks department, it reclaimed a forlorn piece of garbage-strewed wetland on the river just south of Dyckman Street, and invested $17 million in what is now Sherman Creek Park: a 15-acre oasis with walking paths, wildflowers and a boathouse.

Designed by the architect Robert A. M. Stern, the boathouse, opened in 2004, is the headquarters of Row New York, a nonprofit group that has introduced low-income children to rowing, in sleek racing shells more often associated with Ivy League crew. “It was a brownfield site filled with old cars,” said Deborah Marton, senior vice president for programs at the New York Restoration Project.

The group is now holding a design competition for a new education center to be built in Sherman Creek Park. The building will serve as an example of storm-resilient architecture, while allowing the group to hold education programs in urban ecology no matter the weather. “We’re in a flood zone so this building will flood and it will be fine,” Ms. Marton said.

On the other side of the river, a coalition of 50 community groups and government agencies, called the Harlem River Working Group, is determined to return the waterfront to the Bronx. With the nonprofit organization Trust for Public Land, the group last year issued a report, the Harlem River Greenway Vision, with ideas for better access and potential locations for new parkland. “The Bronx side has been left behind,” said Marc A. Matsil, the trust’s New York State director.

There are bright spots, however. In 2009, the parks department built Mill Pond Park, 10 acres on the river with 16 tennis courts, picnic areas and a jogging path. The $64 million project was one of several parks the city created to replace parkland lost in building the new Yankee Stadium.

Farther north, near the Alexander Hamilton Bridge, is Bridge Park, a new half-mile finger of parkland that extends to Roberto Clemente State Park. Construction on the $4.1 million park is finished, but the city, citing safety concerns, is waiting for the New York State Transportation Department to finish renovation work on the Hamilton Bridge before opening it.

In the meantime, the Trust for Public Land has seized on every chance to expand the parks. Last year, together with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a foundation, it bought an 0.58-acre parcel near the High Bridge. The land had belonged to a local church, which had leased it to a dog pound. “There were dozens of dogs in chains on the site,” Mr. Matsil said. “They were not doing well.”

His vision for the future park includes a green lawn and kayak launch, although the city will ask the community for its opinions.

“Despite all the challenges,” Mr. Matsil said, “the river still provides fish habitat for red hake, winter flounder, Atlantic sea herring and blue fish. It also connects to multiple watersheds, and there aren’t many water bodies that do that in the city.”


http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/10/23/the_high_bridge_reclaims_its_history_with_61m_rest oration.php

April 26th, 2015, 12:21 PM
High Bridge is scheduled to reopen to pedestrians on July 25, 2015.


June 10th, 2015, 04:51 AM
Another really nice pedestrian experience in NYC.

The Historic High Bridge Will Finally Reopen After 40 Years

June 5, 2015, by Zoe Rosenberg

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/500x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/5571de8cf92ea12ebc01ed88/wpid-wp-1433440640752.jpeg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/5571de8cf92ea12ebc01ed88/wpid-wp-1433440640752.jpeg)
[Images via W2tB (http://www.welcome2thebronx.com/wordpress/2015/06/04/the-original-high-line-the-high-bridge-to-reopen-this-tuesday-june-9th/).

After being closed to the public for more than 40 years, the landmarked pedestrian-only High Bridge (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/high-bridge) between the Bronx and Manhattan will reopen next week. Welcome2theBronx reports (http://www.welcome2thebronx.com/wordpress/2015/06/04/the-original-high-line-the-high-bridge-to-reopen-this-tuesday-june-9th/) that the span will avail itself to pedestrians on June 9, six years after it was initially supposed to reopen after being shuttered in the 1970s. The High Bridge is the city's oldest bridge, dating back to 1848, and stands 140 feet tall, 2,000 feet long and stretches between about West 173rd Street in Manhattan and West 170th Street in the Bronx. Gothamist points out (http://gothamist.com/2015/06/04/high_bridge_reopening.php#photo-1) that it was originally constructed as part of the Croton Aqueduct, which supplied clean water to New York City as its population surged around the mid-1800s and turn of the century (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/06/03/watch_manhattans_population_rise_and_fall_over_210 _years.php).

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/500x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55728915f92ea16b6900e4d6/MNY53599.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55728915f92ea16b6900e4d6/MNY53599.jpg)
Image via MCNY

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/500x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/5571df14f92ea135ab014094/20150528_102847.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/5571df14f92ea135ab014094/20150528_102847.jpg)

The Original "High Line", The High Bridge, to Reopen This Tuesday, June 9th! (http://www.welcome2thebronx.com/wordpress/2015/06/04/the-original-high-line-the-high-bridge-to-reopen-this-tuesday-june-9th/) [W2tB]
The High Bridge Will Finally Reopen This Month (http://gothamist.com/2015/06/04/high_bridge_reopening.php#photo-1) [Gothamist]
A Stunning Link to New York's Past Makes a Long-Awaited Return (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/05/nyregion/a-stunning-link-to-new-yorks-past-makes-a-long-awaited-return.html) [NYT]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/06/05/the_historic_high_bridge_will_finally_reopen_after _40_years.php

Fabulous photo:

The High Bridge, which connects Manhattan to the Bronx over the Harlem River, in 1905.
via the Library of Congress

June 10th, 2015, 10:45 AM
such a shame they destroyed the original supporting arches

June 10th, 2015, 12:37 PM
Fabulous photo:


Time has not been kind: