Saturday, August 29, 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

Linear Parks are Being Proposed in Many Cities

Proposed Cultural Corridor Chapultepec, Mexico City

In a number of articles in Mother Nature Network Matt Hickman blogs about the latest plans to convert existing areas in various metropolitan cities around the world into linear parks.

For what some have called the Champs-Élysées of Mexico City, Avenida Chapultepec, a linear park with some features not too dissimilar to those of the High Bridge or The High Line in New York City has been proposed (see illustration above).

While the Chapultepec Corridor does not pass over water, it was the site of an aqueduct that passed in ancient days from what is now Chapultepec Park towards the downtown Zocalo (City Center).  Both the Chapultepec Corridor and The High Bridge sport remnants of their respective aqueduct past.  The Chapultepec Corridor will also connect two areas of Mexico City that have been disconnected due to the heavy automobile traffic on Chapultepec Avenue, whereas, The High Bridge now connects Washington Heights with the Highbridge section of the Bronx.

Consistent with new trends in the design of linear parks, the there will be many areas reserved exclusively for use by pedestrians and bicyclists with many areas for plants and vegetation and recreational areas.

Also of note is the proposed Seoul Korea Skygarden. The Skygarden will be a public park situated on a soon-to-be-blocked highway overpass as 'a pleasant shortcut through a green oasis in the midst of all the traffic and concrete.'

Proposed Skygarden, Seoul, Korea

The next proposed linear park conversion is the Miami Underline, a 10 mile long park located underneath the Miami Metro Rail.
The Underline, Miami Florida
We also reported in August the Trend toward landscaped pedestrian and bicycle bridges in London, England and in Washington D.C.

Proposed London Garden Bridge to be completed in 2018
Proposed 11th Street Park Bridge, Washington D.C.
And, finally, the High Line in our own New York City that is not even on the drawing board since it already exists.
The High Line, New York City (existing)
revised 9/1/15

Friday, August 28, 2015

Bicycle Routes in Northern Manhattan

Legend:    Bike Path / Greenway   Bike Path with special hours    Bike Lane   Bike Route   On-Street 
Map courtesy of NYC Bike Maps
NYC DOT is really gearing up for some serious bicycle traffic in Northern Manhattan.  We reported on June 16, 2015 that DOT has started construction of the Bike Lanes to support more bicycle traffic near Highbridge Park with the anticipation that access to The High Bridge and its bicycle traffic will create more need for bicycle only lanes in the immediate area around the park.  More specifically, Bike Lanes will be added to sections of 158 and 159th Streets and on 170th Street to facilitate traversing Manhattan from East to West or visa versa (as shown in the illustration below).

Stephen Miller reported in Streets Blog NYC that NYC DOT has also now started construction of a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the Henry Hudson Parkway and the Metro North Train tracks at 151st Street at a cost of some $24.4 Million allowing pedestrians and  bicyclists to connect with Riverside Park and its Bike Path.  It is anticipated that this new bridge project will be completed by the end of 2016.

At Dyckman Street, when exiting the Bike Path from Highbridge Park bicyclists already have an opportunity to take the Bike Lane on Dyckman Street toward the Hudson River.  For now there is an On-Street bicycle connection to the Bike Path at Fort Tryon Park on the West side near the Hudson River (see illustration above)

With the completion of all these construction projects it will allow bicyclists to make a circuit of Washington Heights, mostly on Bike Paths and with some Bike Lanes. This will feature wonderful uninterrupted stretches without vehicular traffic in both Highbridge Park along the Harlem River and in Riverside Park along the Hudson River and somewhat protected lanes to traverse the island to get back and forth from one Bike Path to the other.

We have also reported that there are efforts afoot to make the Manhattan side of The High Bridge in Washington Heights easier to access for both bicyclists and pedestrians by constructing a ramp and new stairway to go more directly from Amsterdam Ave. at 173rd Street down to The High Bridge.   NYC Parks & Recreation Department Commissioner Silver has not commented on this proposal at this time.

And, of course, not to discriminate against our one-wheeled cyclists, unicycles will also be allowed to use the bicycle paths as well.  For more information on unicycling click here.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The New York Times "The High Bridge, a Scenic and Serene Cousin of the High Line"





William Grimes of the The New York Times has put out an interesting piece comparing The High Bridge and The High Line. It is worth the read.

Below is the approach to The High Bridge at Highbridge Station in the Bronx.  c. 1909

Friday, August 21, 2015

Experience The Heights! -- High Bridge History Tours

We are proud to welcome High Bridge Tours to the growing community of vendors catering to the visitors to the restored High Bridge and adjacent areas. Please refer your friends and potential visitors to this local organization, and, by all means, go for a tour yourself. You might learn something you didn't know before. 










EXPERIENCE THE HEIGHTS!
HIGH BRIDGE HISTORY TOURS
Telephone: 646-838-5155 ~ Email: go2heights @ highbridgetours.com ~ Website: highbridgetours.com




                   Join Us For Our Weekly & Featured Public Tours
Lush Native Trails * Revolution * Colonial High Society * Harlem's Renaissance * Civil Rights
~ See Manhattan's oldest home, walk across our oldest bridge ALL in the same history tour ~


Welcome to Harlem's Sugar Hill & Washington Heights! 
Situated on the picturesque northern-most tip of Manhattan, our community is home to some of NewYork City’s “hidden treasures” such as (Old Croton Aqueduct) High Bridge. New York City's Oldest standing bridge and newest Greenway. Walk through Morris-Jumel Mansion museum "Sugar Hills Jewel," Manhattan's oldest house in its 250 years, it has witnessed the entire stretch of our nation's history...  
**********************
History Walking Tours 
Rain or Shine 

No Pre-Reservations Needed

Tour Fees $25 Per Person

          Weekly Every Sunday ~ 11:30am - 1:30pm        

Featured Tours (see tour schedule)

Saturdays  12 noon to 2pm

   Private Tours can be arranged anytime

  ~ Please Call (646) 838-5155 or Email to Confirm all Tours 

and Private Rates ~

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

"On Coogan's Bluff" A New Historic GPS Adventure Tour for the iPhone

Fans watch a game at the Polo Grounds from Coogan's Bluff, 1908
While Coogan’s Bluff, a promontory in northern Manhattan located in Highbridge Park just south of  The High Bridge Aqueduct, was best known at the beginning of the 20th Century for the ability of
View of The High Bridge from Coogan's Bluff
fans to watch free New York Giants baseball games being played below in the Polo Grounds (see photo above), in the first half of the 19th Century it was best known as the location the Croton Aqueduct was perched upon as it passed from the High Bridge on its north to New York’s reservoir then located in midtown Manhattan to its south. The original Croton Aqueduct has been long ago decommissioned, having been replaced by a much more elaborate water system.  However, this one section on Coogan’s Bluff is still intact and in pristine condition, and now there is an iPhone App to help you explore this section of the aqueduct and rediscover the fascinating artifacts that still remain.


An Early Glass Lantern Slide of The High Bridge Aqueduct from Coogan's Bluff



ON COOGAN’S BLUFF is a GPS proximity based walking app which identifies long forgotten features of this important historic New York landmark.  

Stone Marker On Cougan's Bluff left by the original builders
Features include: stone walls, a tunnel cut
through the sheer stone bluff, and chisel and wedge marks left by the stonecutters, to mention a few.  Together they form an historic treasure hunt that will conjure up visions of workers toiling at the construction site over 170 years ago when New York City was still only a small city located at the lower tip of Manhattan. The app provides a wonderful opportunity to explore a beautiful deep woods path through Highbridge Park with wonderful vistas of the Harlem River Valley below. Upon completion of the iPhone assisted adventure you may wish to continue with  a wonderful stroll across the newly reconstructed High Bridge Aqueduct across the Harlem River.

Coogan's Bluff is located just off Edgecombe Ave. between 155th St. & 171st. St
James J. Coogan (1845-1915), the man who owned the Bluff and for whom it was named, was a real estate developer and Manhattan Borough President.

ON COOGAN"S BLUFF

  • Available at the iStore for $3.99.  Click here for more information.
  • The introduction explains how to use the app.
  • Includes original drawings, writing and photographs for a detailed explanation

The Exception Proves the Rule


"The Exception Proves the Rule" refers to an exception that doesn't fit a rule.  We have all heard that The High Bridge, when it opened, would be open for use by pedestrians and bicycles alike.  In this case, the exception appears to be that unicycles are also permitted.

A few 'Unaticks' from The New York Unicycle Club participated in the High Bridge Festival on July 25.  They "had a great time hanging out at the festival, riding back and forth multiples times across the bridge," and have posted on their escapades on their blog.

Note: the sign behind the club members reads "bicycles slow."  I guess that doesn't apply to unicycle club members!



Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Trend Toward Landscaped Pedestrian Bridges

Proposed London Garden Bridge to be completed in 2018
The Telegraph

The Telegraph of London reported in May that the design for the controversial London Garden Bridge which will span the Thames River from the Inner Temple to the cultural centre of the Southbank will contain five different landscape zones.  The bridge, due to open in 2018, was designed by Thomas Heatherwick with the garden designed by Dan Pearson.
Artist Rendition of the London Garden Bridge
The Telegraph
Similarly,The Dirt, the publication of the American Society of Landscape Architects, reported in an article by Jared Green that the landscape architecture firm OLIN and architecture firm OMA were announced as the winners of a national design competition to create a 900-foot-long bridge park spanning the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C.
                        
11th Street Bridge Park / Images by OLIN and OMA

Also of note, Taylor Cullity Lethlean reported in 2014 on The Landscape Architects Network that "the Adelaide Riverbank Pedestrian Bridge in Australia is proving that a bridge can also be a destination. Sweeping gracefully from the Dunstan Playhouse and Adelaide Oval across the Torrens River to the city, the bridge is an elegant solution for connecting Adelaide’s arc of waterfront parkland. Completed in March 2014, the $40 million bridge takes the first step toward bringing life back to the unique and picturesque riverbank precinct."

Photo Credit: Adelaide Riverbank Pedestrian Bridge, by Taylor Cullity Lethlean
Photo Credit: Adelaide Riverbank Pedestrian Bridge, by Taylor Cullity Lethlean

New York City has taken the big step of restoring The High Bridge crossing the Harlem River. Look at it in the picture below in comparison to the other landscaped pedestrian bridges.


copyright Roy Levit 2015


Is this the pedestrian bridge you want?

The High Bridge in New York City is under the administration of the Parks & Recreation Department of NYC.  So, why isn't it landscaped at all like other Parks and Recreation facilities in the City?  Even The High Line in downtown Manhattan, which is also an elevated structure has become very popular as a landscaped pedestrian park.  It is a destination. Visitors come from all over the world to see it and spend some time there absorbing the naturalistic elements provided by the space. 
High Line, New York


Visitors coming to The High Bridge will walk over it to the other side, they will stop for a few moments while on the bridge and take a look at the commanding vista of the Harlem River Valley, the New York Skyline, or even the panoramic view of Highbridge Park, but they do not find it a place to stay for a while.  There is no shade of a tree to protect them from the mid day summer sun beating down on them.  The benches are totally without a context to make the pedestrian feel invited to sit down. The bridge itself other than its own architectural grace and history is sterile.

Adding landscape elements such as trees, shrubs and other plant material in containers placed upon the deck of the bridge would not do a disservice to its history or detract from its architecture.  Rather, they would accentuate what the bridge was originally intended for: bringing the much needed sustenance of water to a city that needs it for both its citizenry and vegetation to live and grow.  Most commercial public spaces include landscaping as part of the design to bring warmth to the setting.

Think of what The High Bridge could be.  Please express your desire for The High Bridge to be truly brought into the Park system of New York with the addition of appropriate landscaping.  As we commented in our post on mayor de Blassio's lack of interest in the parks on July 16, this would be a great way for him to start showing that he really cares about the parks and the residents of the city by providing quality space for recreational activities outdoors.



Monday, August 10, 2015

Business Insider Does an Extensive Piece on The High Bridge

New York City Department of Parks and Recreation


It is always nice to see the press paying some attention to The High Bridge.  Our hats are off to the the folks at Business Insider.  You went way beyond the call of duty to report on the High Bridge reopening.  Click here for more>

Friday, August 7, 2015

JazzFest Weekend at the Morris-Jumel Mansion

The Morris-Jumel Mansion Museum
New York's Oldest Home

Put August 15 and 16, 2015 on your calendar.  The Morris-Jumel Mansion Museum will celebrate its Sugar Hill heritage with two days of classic jazz—all of it played outdoors in beautiful Roger Morris Park. Free. No registration required.   Hours are Saturday from 2pm until Sunday at 6pm.

For those who are not familiar with the House, Park, or the immediate area it is certainly worth the visit. The Morris-Jumel Mansion Museum is in Roger Morris Park.  It both the Mansion and the Park are located immediately adjacent to Highbridge Park along Edgecombe Ave. between 160th and 162nd Streets.
For more information on the Morris-Jumel Mansion Museum, how to get there, and the events at this venue see their website or our post on them.