Saturday, February 6, 2016

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.

Please subscribe to our newsletter.

last modified 7/28/2015

Upcoming Winter Walk with Naturalist and Photographer Mike Feller at Highbridge Park

Behind The Lens: Discover Highbridge Park

Date: February 20, 2016
Bring your camera and join naturalist and photographer Mike Feller on a winter walk near the river in Highbridge Park.
Mike will discuss strategies for dealing with difficult lighting situations, lens and zoom choice for perspective control, and demonstrate the use of a large format film camera.
Please note: Space is limited. RSVP is required; please email to register
Start time: 10:00 am
End time: 11:30 am
Contact phone: (212) 795-1388
Location: West 172nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue (in Highbridge Park)
Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
Mike Feller is an ecological consultant and photographer. He worked at NYC Parks for 31 years where he was Chief Naturalist from 1987 until 2014 and oversaw and participated in all aspects of survey, inventory, management planning, and restoration funding, planning, design, and construction, supervising a staff of 25 natural resources managers and field staff. Mike led the creation of the Forever Wild program that established 51 New York City nature preserves. Mike’s photographs have appeared in the New York Times, Universum, Geo, Spider, Urban Birds, Brooklyn Bridge, Keeping Things Whole: Readings in Environmental Science, Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City, Conservationist, Wild New York, Animal Neighbors (NYPL Exhibition 2002), Ohio Grade 6 reading exam, and Steelcase Inc. and R2K Inc corporate lobbies. In 2007 Mike provided descriptions of post-apocalypse Manhattan vegetation, habitat, and wildlife as ecological consultant on the Warner Brothers  film, "I am Legend".

Letter to John B. Jervis from 1839 about the Construction of the Aqueduct

This letter from H T Anthony was posted from Tarrytown, New York on January 10, 1839, and was addressed to John B. Jervis, the Chief Engineer for the construction of the Croton Aqueduct at the New York Water Commissioners Office concerning masonry, for the Croton Aqueduct on which Anthony was working at the time and which Jervis was overseeing.  The text reads:

 “Enclosed [not present] I return you a corrected copy of the final account of section 30.  At the suggestion of Mr. Allen I included in my certificate the total amount of the account.  I forgot to state, in explaining the cause of the mistake on 41 that I compared the total amount of the November estimate with the estimate published in the commissioner’s report of January 1838 & finding them to coincide very nearly I was induced to examine the calculations less rigidly than I should otherwise have done.  I have since examined the published estimate & find that the masonry in that is calculated for the erroneous length. Very Respectfully, Your Obedient Servant, T. J. Anthony”  

Henry Tiebout Anthony (1814-1884) is best known as a member of the New York Knickerbockers baseball team. He played in the very first organized baseball game, held at Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1846.  He was also a famous photographer and the vice president of the E. & H. T. Anthony & Company, which was the largest manufacturer and distributor of photographic supplies in the United States during the 19th century.  He had a close business relationship with Mathew Brady.

H T Anthony, c. 1860

In 1828, Henry Anthony entered the Columbia College and graduated with honors four years later. After that, he worked intermittently as a civil engineer, at the Erie railroad, Croton Aqueduct and Hudson River Railroad, and as a clerk at the Bank of New York. In 1839 he became interested in the new art of photography, which he learned along with his brother Edward.  Soon after Edward established his photography firm, Henry joined him in 1852, the firm becoming the E. & H. T. Anthony & Company.  It was the forerunner of the famous Ansco Photograph company.

Within the company, Henry was responsible for the manufacturing department and improved the use of colloidal and paper printing processes. In 1855, he became the editor of the Annual Bulletin of Photographic Invention and Improvement, which was published by the company in altered forms until and after his death in 1884. He died suddenly, a few days after being hit by a passing vehicle while crossing a street in New York.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Road & Bridges Names High Bridge One of the Top 10 Bridges of 2015

Road & Bridges Magazine has awarded New York's High Bridge Aqueduct over the Harlem River with an award as one of the Top 10 Bridges of the year 2015.

The High Bridge, decommissioned since 1970, is the oldest bridge in the city of New York, opened originally in 1848 as a means of delivering water to Manhattan. Today, the bridge features a 466-ft-long, three-hinged steel arch spanning the Harlem River and 10 extant granite arches spanning Harlem River Drive, I-87, Metro North Railroad and a smattering of other city streets. The shared-use bridge is being constructed with preservation and rehabilitation methods in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Preservation of Historic Properties. The bridge also will be ADA compliant.

LOCATION: Bronx, New York City, N.Y.
COST: $52 million
LENGTH: 1,450 ft
DESIGNER: TranSystems
CONTRACTOR: Schiavone Construction Co. LLC
OWNER: City of New York Parks and Recreation

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Photograph of High Bridge by Paul Quinones

High Bridge Light Trails by Paul Quinones

Paul Quinones has really outdone himself with this long exposure of The High Bridge.    Paul is a photographer in NYC who does photos like this as well as portraits and event sessions. You may see more of Paul's work at his website.  Check him out.  Thank you Paul for sharing this picture with us.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


Notice that on the sides of the deck of the bridge there are walls which are higher than the center pedestrian walkway.  This picture was clearly taken before the larger center tube was installed during the 1861-1862 enlargement when the center tube was added.  The new tube was placed between and slightly above the other two original tubes resulting in the surface of the pedestrian walkway on top having to be raised about six feet. This, in turn, eliminated the walls on the walkway.  Actually, the walls are still there but the surface was raised to a level higher than the top of the walls.  The walls were then raised a few feet to allow the new surface of paver bricks to be level to the edge. A railing was installed to protect the pedestrians from falling off. Notice also that this (the original configuration of the deck of the bridge) is the configuration that shows in the sketch of Poe crossing the High Bridge from presumably the late 1840s. This stereoview appears to have been taken facing toward Manhattan. There is no pumping station, reservoir or tower visible either.

Notice also that the men in the picture are wearing top hats resembling stove pipes, which were all the rage in the 1850s.  The picture of Abraham Lincoln on the right in his stove top hat should be familiar to most readers.

We are not aware of another photographic picture of the deck of the bridge from before the center tube was added. This picture was taken between 1848, when the High Bridge was originally completed and about 1860, when the construction of the center tube started.  Most likely this picture was taken some time during the 1850s.

Here (below) is another photograph of the deck just as they are installing the brick pavers after the third tube was installed (c. 1862-3).  Note that the bricks come up to the top of the wall.

High Bridge, c. 1862-3
Here is the High Bridge during the installation of the third tube, before the brick pavers were installed:

The picture below is from the period of time in 1927-9 when they removed the arches in the Harlem River and replaced them with the steel arch.

You should be able to see the original top of the walls (horizontally oriented cross section) with the additional stone (square cross section) added to raise the wall making the deck level such that the brick pavers can clear the new third tube.

Also note the building on top of the hill to the right of the High Bridge in the first two photos of the High Bridge above. It is harder to see the building in the first photo, but you can clearly make out the pattern of the windows and the shape of the building in both photos.  If you have any doubts, look at this next picture.

The building is still up there on the right, but now you see the tower, the reservoir and the pumping station.  Also, note the brick pavers all the way to the top surface of the walls and the railings installed.

last modified 1/29/2016

Monday, January 11, 2016

Harlem River Bridges Photography Exhibit by Duane Bailey-Castro at Montefiore

The ARTViews Gallery at Montefiore

Connecting People, Strengthening Communities: 
The Harlem River Bridges
Duane Bailey-Castro, Photographer

January 11th – April 1st, 2016
Montefiore Health System
Moses Campus
111 East 210th Street, Bronx, New York 10467
Open Daily 8am - 5pm

                                           Sponsored by                              

In a review of the Duane Baily-Castro's exhibit by Untapped Cities they have said it is "stunning... and puts a spotlight on the often overlooked waterway and its fifteen bridges that connect the Bronx and upper Manhattan," and that the exhibit "is both an expression of his personal relationship with the Harlem River and its bridges and an effort to increase public awareness of their historical and architectural significance."

Bridges over Harlem River, Harper's Weekly, 1882
last modified 1/27/16

Friday, January 8, 2016

Imagine a High Bridge Cafe

High Bridge Café, Lincoln, UK

We have posted about the High Bridge in Lincoln, UK on this blog before, but I had no idea that the building on the bridge is, in fact, now occupied by a café.  The Stokes High Bridge in Lincoln was built about 1160 AD and is believed to be the oldest building on a bridge in the UK still standing. Now, we have just received the information below which makes one imagine what could be at or near our historic High Bridge over the Harlem River.  Please pardon the British language below, but a local frequenter of the Stokes café says,

"An excellent Tudor style coffee house situated in the centre of Lincoln by the canal. Waitress service no paper cups and to cap it all they do a very good egg and sausage sandwich. The coffee is excellent, the café a little bit on the cold side first thing, but there are soon queues for tables.

The quainter dinning areas are upstairs but there is no lift so difficult if you have mobility issues. The shop on the ground floor sells some interesting local produce as well."

Stokes on High Bridge, in an Elizabethan building, on a Norman Bridge over the River Witham flowing through the centre of Lincoln, is one of the top coffee shops in the country.

last modified 1/14/1016

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Curious Ephemera from Busnesses Local to Highbridge Park from the Distant Past

This is a receipt from January 25th, 1889 for funeral arrangements by L. Sanger, located at the northwest corner of 10th Ave. (now, Amsterdam) and 156th St., for one Alexander Hutcheon.  Total cost for the services provided was $161.70.

L. Sanger was an undertaker known in the Washington Heights area during the 1870s to near the end of the century. If anyone has more information on them please comment.

Above we have an advertising blotter for L. Horvath, General Manager of his establishement where he repaired bicycles, victrolas, phonographs, and baby carriages; bought, sold & exchanged bicycles; rented bicycles by the hour or day; made custom radios & ground skates.  Now there is a mouthful of services.  His establishment was located at 2240 Amsterdam Ave. between 171st and 172nd Streets.
Where is he now that we need him.  This was clearly from the early days of the 20th century. Does anyone remember this establishment?

Big Apples’s Big Bike Numbers

In a new post on Price Tags by Ken Ohrn dives into the statistics associated with the Citi Bike endeavor in NYC. Usage is increasing steadily and the coverage area is growing too.  However, if you look at the area of coverage it will not come anywhere near the High Bridge for years to come. Let's try real hard to find a company to serve the area.  Surely there is ample space in the Highbridge area for the bicycles to be stored, maintained, and rented. Let's hear from you if this is what you want in the neighborhood.