photo: Tom Tarnowsky
A Salute to the High Bridge on Fifth Anniversary of Its Re-opening
Time flies! June 9, 2015, was an unforgettable day for High Bridge and Croton Aqueduct fans. On that day five years ago a throng waited eagerly at the Manhattan end of the bridge for the signal to burst upon the gleaming, completely refurbished pedestrian bridge - the centerpiece of the original (“Old”) Croton Aqueduct. New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver presided over the joyous opening ceremonies.
Completed in 1848, the High Bridge is today the city’s oldest bridge and a city park. It carried pure, plentiful Croton water – the beginning of the city’s world-famed water supply - from the mainland to Manhattan Island at a time when New York City existed only at the south tip of the island. The water pipes are still there, beneath the deck where visitors stroll.
Long a popular destination for outings, the bridge was closed to the public in about 1970 and remained so for some 40 years. After a mainly city-financed, three-year restoration that included making it fully accessible, cleaning its multi-hued stonework for the first time ever, and revealing its masterful engineering, the 2015 festivities marked its return to public access.
What better way to escape pandemic-induced claustrophobia than to visit the High Bridge, learn its remarkable history from the beautifully designed bronze medallions set in the deck, and enjoy its airy views. The bridge is open daily from 7am to 8pm. It’s accessible from the Bronx side at W. 170th St. and University Ave., and from the Manhattan side at Edgecombe Ave. and W. 167th St., or from the lower Water Tower Terrace.
The High Bridge over the Harlem River; view southward. Credit: Gotham Parks XVX
One of the bronze medallions set in High Bridge walkway. Credit: S. Kelsey
The bridge and Harlem River Speedway, before the steel arch, c. 1902
Harlem River bridges. c. 1885