Thursday, October 8, 2015

The High Bridge and the Park

High Bridge, New York c. 1880
Tinted Stereoview by the New York Stereoscopic Co.

Welcome to The High Bridge -- Its Past, Present & Future website.  This site connects all interested parties on exciting developments associated with The High Bridge, Highbridge Park, and the immediately surrounding area.

We are in the process of sprucing up our site and making it more presentable.  As most of you already know, the High Bridge was reopened on June 9, 2015 after about 45 years of having been closed and years of planning and reconstruction.  The adjacent Highbridge Park is also undergoing extensive refurbishment as part of the NYCPlan 2030, and the immediate neighborhood near the Park, particularly along Amsterdam and Edgecombe avenues is starting to experience a renaissance with building renovations and new commercial ventures.
With this in mind, we are now shifting gears away from the reconstruction of The High Bridge to the other improvements that will be forthcoming.  We also recognize that there will be more visitors to the bridge, the Highbridge Park, and the surrounding areas, so we will be providing more information for those who do not have familiarity with the area and its attractions. 
At present the public funding for the improvements and redevelopment effort for the Bridge and the Park have exceeded $100 Million. On Jan. 11, 2013 Mayor Michael Bloomberg broke ground on the construction phase of the plan for the redevelopment of the High Bridge and the cost of reopening the bridge has been publicized at $61.8 Million.

On June 9, 2015, the official reopening ceremony of the High Bridge occurred. (Please see the specific posts for this event).  On July 25, 2015 the High Bridge Festival celebrating the reopening of the High Bridge occurred.

There are many other activities progressing simultaneously with the redevelopment of the High Bridge. This web site focuses on the developments in and immediately adjacent to The High Bridge and Highbridge Park.  Please make sure to scroll down to see previous posts on new and exciting developments.

It is our belief that with this site we can foster an appreciation of the past, an understanding of the present and a catalyst for the development of the future needs of this immediate area.

Hopefully, we will find common ground to dramatically improve the buildings, the retail establishments and the quality of life in such a way as to compliment the redevelopment effort associated with the High Bridge and High Bridge Park and make this area a destination for more of the millions of residents of New York City and some of the more than tens of millions of visitors who come to New York City each year.

Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Sept 6, 1879

Please contact us and let us know if you have any interests in participating as a contributor, volunteer, or merely to coordinate with your community organization, or even if you are just an interested neighborhood resident. If you want to contribute to the site with any comments please feel free to do so.

Organizationally, we have been adding information to each page as it is appropriate.  You should return to pages on a regular and frequent basis to catch up on latest developments on each topic.  We have also provided for reader feedback at the bottom of each topic.

There are over 100 posts with information and pictures on all sorts of topics. Information about the history of the High Bridge and the building of the aqueduct, articles about what is going on right now, and articles about the future changes that we all hope will come to the High Bridge, the park, and the surrounding neighborhoods. Please click on the Area of Interest on the right and a whole host of topics will present themselves. Or, you may scroll through the archive of articles on the right to find and article of interest to you. Or, you may also search by keyword in the box provided at the right above the archive listings. Or, you may just scroll down and look at the articles in chronological order going backward in time.

 If you are experiencing any difficulty using our site please let us know.

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last modified 7/28/2015

Another Pedestrian Bridge onto Manhattan?

The Liberty Bridge. Photo: Jeff Jordan Architects
In an article in New York Magazine on October 7, Eric Levitz writes about plans for yet another pedestrian bridge onto Manhattan. He says,

"What if you could live in Jersey City and walk to work in New York City? Jersey City architect Jeff Jordan, crowdfunding enthusiast Kevin Shane, and many of their neighbors have teamed up to produce plans and renderings for the Liberty Bridge, a 5,000-foot-long walkway over the Hudson River. Think of it as their version of the High Bridge."

Friday, October 2, 2015

It's Not Balderdash -- There's a Dash for the Boulders at Highbridge Park

Photo  - Molly Hurford

Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that is performed on rocks and other small rock formations, usually measuring less than 20 feet high without the use of ropes or harnesses.  As it turns out, for all those into the sport of bouldering who reside in New York City, the options are somewhat limited. There are a number of indoor facilities such as Steep Rock Bouldering at 1507 Lexington Ave. 

Steep Rock Bouldering -- 1507 Lexington Ave. (corner of 97th St.)

But, then there are the outdoor facilities.  For this type of experience boulderers need not look any further than Highbridge Park, right here in upper Manhattan.  There are an abundance of rocks to choose from that are free to use and available throughout most of the year.  Enjoy the rocks!

Looking for Counters of Pedestrian & Bicycle Traffic on The High Bridge

Albumen Photograph of The High Bridge, date unknown, but after the water tower was built
(taken from the Bronx, south of the High Bridge)

Simply stated, the only way we are going to get the Parks and Recreation Department to improve the infrastructure at Highbridge Park is by demonstrating that the usage of the two parks and the bridge justifies it.   The Parks and Recreation Department is not collecting any meaningful information on usage for either of the two parks or on the High Bridge itself.   Pedestrian and bicycle traffic on the Bridge has to pass through the two parks.

We would like to establish the baseline usage of the Bridge by pedestrians and bicyclists. To accomplish this we will need volunteers to stand at either end of the Bridge and count the number of pedestrians and bicycles crossing (both ways) during 15 minute intervals.

If you are interested in helping us to gather this information we would appreciate it very much. Please email us with your name and times of availability.  We will then assign a time slot with more specific instructions as to how you may help us.  As a thank you we will credit you with having participated in the study by listing your name along with other participants when we announce the results of the study.  The more we know about the use of the High Bridge the more we can work to improve the infrastructure supporting it in both Highbridge Parks and the surrounding areas.

Thank you for your support.

Photograph of Washington Bridge from Aqueduct High Bridge, date unknown (but after 1895)
Description say that the Washington Bridge goes from 181st Street and 10th Avenue (on the left) to Aqueduct Avenue (Bronx, on the right)

Friday, September 25, 2015

My! My! Another Walking Tour on the High Bridge by Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct

Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct have posted yet a second Walking Tour to the High Bridge today.  This one, however, will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015 starting at the Dobbs Ferry Metro North train station in Westchester:
Let's just hope the tourists keep coming and encourage them to bring their own lunches and plenty to drink as there are really no food services anywhere near the High Bridge or Highbridge Park yet, except for Company Catered Events at the corner of 159th Street and Edgecombe Ave. where they can get a cup of coffee, a soft drink, and a pastry or something like that.

FOCA says:

"Washington Heights sites near the High Bridge deserve more attention, especially now that the  gleaming bridge beckons day trippers once more. Let’s take a long walk that will cross the Harlem  River via the High Bridge, hear the tale of the Old Croton Aqueduct, then wind back to the gorgeous  Jumel Terrace Historic District and to hidden Audubon Terrace. Along the way, we will pay homage to Paul Robeson, jazz greats like Duke Ellington and Lena Horne, the indomitable Eliza Jumel and to NY baseball.
The guide can accompany walkers from Westchester on the Metro North on Tuesday at 9:04am on    Octover 13, to the subway transfer to the #1 train at Marble Hill. Be prepared for many, many stairs   and 2-3 hours of hilly walking (2+ miles), plus elevated subway-train transfers. Westchester walkers   can return the same way they came.
Group size is limited and attendance is on a reservation-only basis. Please notify your guide of            cancellations! Contact: Lesley Walters, 914-671-7112."

Let's offer them the best of luck on their day trip.

Walking Tour of The High Bridge Presented by Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct

eet near the entrance to the Morris-Jumel Mansion, 65 Jumel Terrace, NYC. (just west of Highbridge Park between 161st St. and 162nd St.).  Directions to the Mansion, with transportation suggestions, can be found by clicking here.  
Participants will approach the bridge via the Aqueduct pathway along Coogan's Bluff, which leads north from 158th and Edgecombe Avenue to The High Bridge.  Once on the bridge participants will enjoy the views and marvel at the engineering feat completed in 1848. 
Three optional side trips are available:
 ---- a walk up the stairs on the Manhattan side of the bridge to view the tower and the former site of the reservoir (the stairway will be daunting for anyone who experiences difficulty climbing approximately 100 steep stairs).
----  a self-led tour of the Morris-Jumel Mansion (Manhattan’s oldest house – admission $10/$8) at the conclusion of the walk. 
----  a GPS proximity based walking app for the iPhone which identifies long forgotten Croton Aqueduct features On Coogan's Bluff (purchase price $3.99)
Without optional side trips, the walk from the Mansion to the far side of The High Bridge and back is on flat terrain and is approximately 2+ miles (2+ hours).  The tour along with the election of some of the side trips can turn this into a full half day of very unusual adventure right here in the middle of this great metropolitan area.
Reservations are required. Contact: Sara Kelsey, or call 646-303-1448.
rain date: Sunday, the 25th

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Jazz in the Heightzz -- Oct 1, Nov 5 and Dec 3

“Jazz in the Heightzz” presents jazz concerts at a growing number of well-known venues in Washington Heights, including many at Word Up Bookstore -- 2113 Amsterdam Avenue @ 165th St.
A wonderful evening of Jazz, refreshments and books. No cover, donations appreciated.  More information on
Thursdays, October 1, November 5 and December 3, 2015,  6-9pmWord Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria
113 Amsterdam Ave. (at 165 St.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Highbridge 161st St. Business Improvement District Commissions Mural of A Rod

Photo by Silvio Pacifico


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Hyperloop Pneumatic Tube for the High Bridge?

In 1897 the United States Post Office started to install pneumatic tubes in a number of metropolitan areas in order to expedite the delivery of the mail. By 1898 they were in operation.   

Robin Pogrebin, in an article in the New York Times on May 7, 2001, wrote an interesting article on the history of the system.  In the article he highlights some of the features of the system.  The system was thoroughly modern, even high-tech, a subterranean network for priority and first-class mail powered by air pressure.  These tubes were installed in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and St. Louis.  In Manhattan, they extended about 27 miles, from the old Custom House in Battery Park to Harlem and back through Times Square, Grand Central Terminal and the main post office near Pennsylvania Station. In the picture above at the at the City Hall station, the mail went over the Brooklyn Bridge to the general post office in Brooklyn. 

The system used pressurized air to move a mail canister through an underground eight-inch cast-iron pipe.  In New York City, two pipes were used along each route, one for sending, the other for receiving.  The pipes were buried 4 to 12 feet underground, though in some places the tubes were placed within subway tunnels.  Improvements in the speed of the motor-wagon and its successor, the automobile, signaled the end of the pneumatic tube.  The tube system remained in operation in New York City until December 1, 1953.

Artist's impression of a Hyperloop capsule: Air Compressor on the front, passenger compartment in the middle, battery compartment at the back and air bearing skis at the bottom.

The modern day equivalent to the pneumatic air tube of the postal service of the late 19th century might arguably be the hyperloop (see illustration above), a conceptual high-speed transportation system proposed by Elon Musk in 2013 as a means of efficiently transporting people and goods quickly over large distances.  The Hyperloop would incorporate reduced pressure tubes in which pressurized capsules would ride on an air cushion driven by linear induction motors and air compressors.

We know that there are three tubes in the High Bridge.  Perhaps one of those tubes, the one that was added some 40 years after the original bridge was built, when the Croton Aqueduct was expanded to meet the growing need for water in New York would be large enough to support a hyperloop vehicle. 
High Bridge during Construction
Tube diameter 7 ft. 6 1/2 in.

Perhaps this could be incorporated into the mass transit system of New York City to allow residents of the Bronx to quickly cross the Harlem River to get to Manhattan.  If that is not practical, then perhaps the tube might be used for some sort of tourist attraction to get visitors to come up to the northern part of Manhattan to "Ride the High Bridge Tube".  After all, San Francisco has it's Cable Cars and Ferry Rides to attract tourists.  New York City could become the only city in the world with a hyperloop tube!

Let us know what you think.

last modified 9/16/15

Urban Sketchers Descend on Highbridge Park

On Sunday, September 13, 2015, the New York City chapter of Urban Sketchers came to Highbridge Park.  The event was a huge success. Please click here to see some of the sketches that were rendered by the participants.  Thanks for coming.  What a great idea to come uptown!  We hope you enjoyed the visit.
Another post from Urban Sketchers appeared on September 17, 2015.

last modified 9/17/15