Photo: Scaffolding photo courtesy of NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation
Good news! Construction work has started on High Bridge Tower, which is now enveloped in dense scaffolding. The 200-foot-tall tower stone tower at the Manhattan end of the High Bridge – elegant inside and outside - was closed to public tours years ago, first for emergency repairs and then for major work and safety improvements, now underway. The 1872 tower was part of the High Service Works, built to bring Croton water to the higher elevations of north Manhattan. Access to it has been sorely missed. (The tower is fleetingly visible from Metro-North’s Hudson Line. See sidebar C on the Friends’ map of the Aqueduct in New York City to learn more about the tower.)
More good news: the pedestrian bridge that will reconnect two large parts of Van Cortlandt Park and the Old Croton Aqueduct trail across the Major Deegan Expressway is now fully funded. Once the bridge is in place (still years off), Aqueduct walkers will no longer need to detour to 233rd St. to get across the highway. The east end of the bridge will be near the north ballfield of Shandler Recreation Area; the west end will be a short walk to or from the section of Aqueduct trail between the Yonkers-NYC border and the Deegan. The bridge will be ADA-accessible.
A similar announcement was made at a press conference in the park in 2015, but redesign and necessary re-siting led to a substantial increase in cost, now expected to be $23.5 million, from a mix of city and state sources. The bridge location had to be changed in part was because placement as originally planned would have compromised the Aqueduct itself – the 1842 below-grade masonry conduit through which Croton water first flowed, long before there was a park.