High Bridge reopens Summer, 2014

May 19, 2011 133

High Bridge is scheduled to reopen Summer, 2014.

Written by Nilka Martell

Completed in 1848, it is the oldest standing bridge in New York.

It is the only pedestrian bridge that links the Bronx to Manhattan. It stands 138 feet above the Harlem River and spans 1450 feet connecting Highbridge Pool and Recreational Center and the High Bridge Water Tower in upper Manhattan to the Highbridge section of the Bronx.

The bridge has been closed to the public for over 40 years.

The lack of clean water in the early 1800s were a trying time in New York City and disease and fire spread rapidly. The construction of High Bridge was a result of a need for fresh water. High bridge was the highlight of the Old Croton Aqueduct. The water from the Aqueduct ran for more than 40 miles. It delivered water to two reservoirs in the City: one at the current site of the Great Lawn in Central Park and the other in the current site of The New York Public Library at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue.

The High Bridge Watchtower was completed in 1872. Its purpose was to equalize water pressure from the Croton Aqueduct.

Overtime, the steel-arch bridge had to be altered.  In the 1920s, a portion of the bridge’s masonry arches were replaced by a single steel span. This was due to the problems the arches created in navigation. The 80-foot wide arches were too narrow and obstructed large crafts from navigating through the waters.

Activities are being planned by the Highbridge community and several organizations to celebrate this historic time. Some of the ideas involve biking, canoeing, walking tours, history talks and gardening projects. As the event information becomes available, we will keep you apprized!

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