Before the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges, there was High Bridge, arcing far above the Harlem River to connect Manhattan to the Bronx. Originally designed as an aqueduct in 1848, the bridge was closed for the past 40 years until a ribbon-cutting yesterday reopened it to foot traffic.
The longest-standing bridge in New York City was gated in the 1960s due to a lack of funds to maintain it. Over the past few years, as part of Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to revitalize several city parks, a $61 million restoration made structural improvements to the bridge, repaired the antique iron railing, and added safety fencing. Animal NY captured some drone footage which hints at the dramatic views afforded from the 123-foot-high span.
In addition to preserving a critical moment in New York City’s history—these pipes of water, after all, are what allowed the tiny city to grow—High Bridge reinstates an important pedestrian connection between two New York boroughs. Those who wished to walk between Manhattan and the Bronx had to go far out of the way along busy bridges designed for vehicles or take a convoluted subway route. Just in time for summer, High Bridge now gives Bronx residents easy access to a large park in Washington Heights with a pool.
It’s kind of a perfect twist on the repurposed piece of infrastructure that once delivered fresh water to New Yorkers—it’s now delivering New Yorkers to aquatic refreshment.