The High Bridge

The High Bridge, famed centerpiece of the Old Croton Aqueduct, carried Croton water across the Harlem River from the mainland to Manhattan in pipes still beneath its deck. A civic destination and public space and now New York City’s oldest bridge, it has never had vehicular traffic and never will.

Chief Aqueduct engineer John B. Jervis designed the bridge’s 15 masonry arches in the style of the great Roman aqueduct crossings. It was completed in 1848, six years after the Aqueduct opened. In the interim, water crossed the river through temporary, low-level pipes. The bridge quickly became a popular public promenade, thronged by visitors enjoying the views and a favorite subject for artists and photographers. Edgar Allen Poe liked to stroll on it [see article in our Newsletter]. Restaurants and beer gardens sprang up on both banks to serve the burgeoning tourist trade. In 1927-28, five arches were replaced by today’s single steel arch after public protests defeated a proposal to remove the bridge entirely as a hazard to navigation. The bridge is now a designated New York City landmark and, as part of the Old Croton Aqueduct, shares the Aqueduct’s National Historic Landmark designation. It connects the two parks - both named Highbridge Park - at either end, as well as the Highbridge neighborhood of the Bronx and Washington Heights in Manhattan. Beautiful High Bridge Tower (1872) rises above the bridge’s Manhattan terminus.

The restored High Bridge was opened to the public in 2015, after a long restoration process in which the Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct were involved.