For the first time in some 45 years, the historic pedestrian span known as the High Bridge, connecting Manhattan to the Bronx over the Harlem River is finally open to the public once again. There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony early yesterday, with elected officials on hand, including both the Bronx and Manhattan Borough Presidents; everyone celebrated the completion of the bridge's three-year, $61.8 million renovation. And after the politicians and suits all left, lots of locals and a handful of curiosity seekers and bridge tourists spent the rest of the day strolling delightedly from one side to the other.
Really: Curbed chatted up people who lived in the neighborhoods on either side of the High Bridge, who said they were thrilled to be up therenot only because the crossing itself is so pleasant, with nice breezes and long views, but also because the two communities are now connected. Kids from the Bronx, for example, can now easily make their way to the pool and the park on the other side in Manhattan. It's now a 10-minute walk that had been a major haul for decades, during which trans-river crossings required using the Washington Bridge to the north. In fact, there are some concerns that, with its sudden, ready access to Manhattan (and the A/C trains just a few blocks away), developers will now eye the long-ignored Bronx community called Highbridge.
The High Bridge is the oldest span in all of New York City, predating the Brooklyn Bridge by some thirty years. Constructed in 1848, the arched, Roman-style bridge was built as part of the Croton Aqueduct system, to carry water from the Croton River to the city, which was then still far to the south. In its original form, the High Bridge was built from stone for its entire 1,450-foot span, but in 1928, to make it simpler for maritime navigation, the five masonry arches that carried the bridge over the river were replaced by the single steel arch you see today.
Exactly why and when the High Bridge was closed is a surprisingly murky topic, with no official records available and people's memories putting it anywhere from 1960 to 1970. Either way, it's not as if the locals haven't been up there crossing the span, urban exploration-style, for many years anywayor at least, that's what plenty of people claimed. But now it's legal and legit, and pretty darn fun.
On its first day back open, drone footage also captured the good times. Residents said they'd been waiting "for so long," the Daily News took credit for kick-starting the restoration, and former Parks commissioner Adrian Benepe couldn't be happier.
The High Bridge is located at approximately 173rd Street in Manhattan, and 170th Street in the Bronx, and is open for passage every day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Here now, some gleeful outdoor scenes from day one of the High Bridge's new life:
· The Historic High Bridge Will Finally Reopen After 40 Years [Curbed]
· Bronx's Bridge Park Opens on Harlem River Waterfront [Curbed]
· The High Bridge Reclaims Its History With $61M Restoration [Curbed]
· All High Bridge coverage [Curbed]