Monday, October 29, 2018

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 $130 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. Just in 2016, $30 Million of additional funds have been allocated to Highbridge Park by Mayor De Blasio as part of the Anchor Park initiative.

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 almost 200 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

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155th St. and Edgecombe Ave, Washington Heights

Above, Troger's Restaurant, which was located on the south side of 155th St. at Edgecombe Ave. touted itself as the coolest place in Washington Heights.  It was located over by the Speedway near the High Bridge.  It was built in 1898 and they eventually had seating for 500 patrons.  We have no record of when they closed.

Above, Harlem River Drive at West 155 St., Washington Heights. Published in Leslie's Weekly in 1900.

Opening day of the "Speedway," Edgecombe Ave at W 155 St. along the Harlem River, what would become Harlem River Driveway. In the right lower corner is The Polo Grounds III stadium also known as Brotherhood Park where the New York Giants played before moving to San Francisco. The area above the stadium was and is still known as Coogan's Bluff or Coogan's Hollow. 

How Harlem River Speedway Became Harlem River Drive. 

Before it was called the Harlem River Drive, the parkway running north and south along the west bank of the Harlem River was called the Harlem River Speedway. Construction began in 1894, and the speedway opened in July of 1898. 
It stretched from 155th St. to Dyckman Street in Inwood. At first, use of the speedway was restricted to equestrians and carriage drivers. This pleased the wealthy, who worried that sharing the road with other vehicles would ruin their good time.  In advance of the speedway’s opening, a New York Times headline from May 15, 1898 announced: “No Danger that Bicyclists Will Mar the Horsemen’s Sport on the Speedway. THEY ARE EXCLUDED BY LAW.” The speedway became a tourist destination where people could watch horse and boat races, visit Highbridge and Fort George Amusement Park, and enjoy the scenery along the Harlem River.  Some New Yorkers were unhappy that tax dollars were used to build an exclusionary road. As Charles C. Sargent, Jr., noted in his article “A Horseman’s Paradise” in the November 1898 issue of Munsey’s Magazine, “For the men – a few hundred at most – who own fast horses and want to ‘try them out,’ the sapient rulers of New York have spent in making the Speedway money that would have built thirty school houses, and would have provided twice over for the twenty five thousand children turned away last September from the overcrowded primary schools of the metropolis.”

It was not until 1919 that the Harlem River Speedway was opened to motorists. Three years later, it was paved.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Seoul’s Sky Garden~Reuse of an Urban Overpass

This Post by  was originally posted in Annals of WalkingInequalityInfrastructureLandscape,
 Name That CityPublic spacesRethinking Transportation
Urban DesignUrban PlanningUrbanism,  and Price Tags

This year I visited two of the great urban reuses of existing transportation infrastructure with local designers and creators~the High Line in New York City which was originally a New York Central Railway 1934 spur and the Seoullo 17, the Sky Garden built upon the 1970 Seoul Station Highway Overpass in South Korea. The High Line is 2.33 kilometers long and 30 feet above the ground, and has become an elevated greenway and popular people place. A recent visit was described in a Price Tag Post.
The Seoul Station Overpass was about to be demolished for safety concerns about structural integrity. It is one kilometer long and 17 meters (55 feet) above the ground, roughly the same height as the Georgia Viaducts. Instead of demolishing this overpass, it was seen as a catalyst for urban regeneration and linkages in an area that was previously disconnected for pedestrians.   In 2015 HRVDV won a competition to design a this 33 million dollar project as an arboretum which has 254 species of trees, rhododendrons, and plants (all labelled and in alphabetic order on the Sky Garden).  There are 24,085 trees planted and 645 large pots placed along the Sky Garden. There are baby trampolines (carefully constructed in conical forms), plant sculptures, a bakery, a library and even a nursery. The project opened in May 2017 and has been praised for its  adaptation of a motordom artifact.
There is great attention to detail in the finishings and the construction,  and the Sky Garden is bathed in blue light in the evenings. It is used by people of all ages for walking and for visiting, and is seen as an “observatory” over the different lanes of vehicular traffic below. One of the desired outcomes was for users to become more aware of the heavily used streets  and the glassed in guard rails  of the Sky Garden invite that conversation. There is also an “observatory” platform on the Sky Garden for a more bird’s eye view. The designers have playfully cut large diameter cores into the centre of the overpass and placed clear plexiglass covers over those holes so that pedestrians can view for themselves the “structural integrity” of the bridge’s inner workings.
DSCN0166View from Seoullo 17 of TrafficDSCN0136One of several entrances to Seoullo 17 integrated into new plazas at ground level
Like the High Line the Sky Garden has been very popular with local citizens and the travelled width of the walkway is only fifteen feet, the same width as much of High Line in New York City. Adminstrators now say that they wish the pathway widths had been a bit wider, but no one anticipated the overwhelming use and acceptance of the space. Even the wayfinding and local maps  are  now designed with the Sky Garden being the central artery to scores of attractions, shops and services from the many entrances to the elevated walkway.  Seoullo 17 has quickly become a central part of Seoul’s revitalization and you can view more about the project’s background and opening day in this YouTube video.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sarah Cimperman's Photo Shoot in Highbridge Park

copyright 2016, Sarah Cimperman, all rights reserved

Sarah Cimperman has been kind enough to provide us with some photos she shot last year at Highbridge Park.  We thought that, now, in the middle of the winter season, you might enjoy seeing them.  In spite of the snow and cold weather we are faced with now, there is hope that spring is not too far away.

copyright 2016, Sarah Cimperman, all rights reserved

copyright 2016, Sarah Cimperman, all rights reserved

copyright 2016, Sarah Cimperman, all rights reserved

copyright 2016, Sarah Cimperman, all rights reserved

copyright 2016, Sarah Cimperman, all rights reserved

copyright 2016, Sarah Cimperman, all rights reserved

Sarah Cimperman is an amateur photographer and a naturopathic doctor. She is passionate about healthy living and photography that incorporates natural elements like the rich colors of autumn leaves. Her interest in photographing the High Bridge is a natural extension of her love for adventure and travel. She lives and works in Manhattan but spends her free time exploring all five boroughs of New York City as well as national parks across the United States and cultures around the world, from the Central and South America to Europe, Africa, and Asia. Find her at

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Screening of PBS's "Hamilton's America" at Morris-Jumel Mansion

“Hamilton’s America,” the PBS documentary chronicling the creative process behind the hit musical HAMILTON (portions of which were filmed at Morris-Jumel) will be screened on Saturday, February 4, 2017 at 2:00 pm at the Morris-Jumel Mansion Museum. After the screening, there will be a talk back with the documentary’s director, Alex Horwitz.  For more information click here.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Completion of Croton Aqueduct Celebrated October 14, 1842

Here is a historical silk ribbon commemorating the completion of the Croton Aqueduct on October 14, 1842.  The ribbon tells the complete history of the project -- recommended in 1832 by Col. DeWitt Clinton; in 1833 the NY State Legislature began surveys; there are 110 miles of pipes;  the cost was 12 million dollars;  Robert Morris was the Mayor of NYC at the time of completion.  The whole history is printed on the ribbon.  This year is the 175th anniversary of the completion of the aqueduct.   The water crossing the Harlem River in 1842 passed through a siphon tube below the water.  However, it wasn't until July 4, 1848 that the High Bridge was completed, allowing shipping and navigation on the river.  The ribbon measures 3" x 7.75".

Monday, January 9, 2017

Computerworld Runs Article on Soofa Benches in Highbridge Park

The Soofa Smart Park Bench
Matt Hamblen, Senior Editor at Computerworld, has written an interesting article on  Hi Tech in New York City.  Among the items he writes about he highlights the new Soofa Smart Park Benches that have been installed in Highbridge Park in Washington Heights.   This is a follow up post to the one we had last year when it was first announced that the City was participating in the experiment.
One of the more charming uses of smart tech in New York is being tested with several park benches installed in Highbridge Park at 175th St. and Amsterdam Ave. in Washington Heights.  The solar-powered benches, designed by Soofa, a startup with connections to the Mit Media Lab, allow park visitors to charge a smartphone or other device while resting, socializing or sunbathing.

The smart benches also allow park officials to count Wi-Fi-enabled devices as they pass by the bench, which allows them to estimate foot traffic and in turn determine if more security or trash removal might be needed in an area of a park.

Assuaging citizen concerns, the Soofa pilot incorporates a set of "internet of things guidelines" created by the city which govern privacy and security concerns for the new devices.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Report Back Meeting on Use of Highbridge Park Anchor Park Funding

According to Jenifer Hoppa, Northern Manhattan Parks AdministratorNYC Parks

The next Community Report Back Meeting for the Highbridge Anchor Park Project will be on Tuesday January 31, at 6:30 p.m. at the Highbridge Recreation Center. At the meeting participants can review the public input that has been received about improving the park and comment on preliminary master plan recommendations for the park. 

What has happened so far?
The 130-acre Highbridge Park was selected as one of five parks in the city to receive $30 million in improvements through Mayor de Blasio’s Anchor Parks program, which is part of NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver’s Framework for an Equitable Future – a commitment to create thriving public spaces for all New Yorkers.

On November 28th, a Visioning Meeting was convened at the Highbridge Recreation Center where people from the community gathered to share their ideas, hopes and concerns about the future of the park. Following the Visioning Meeting NYC Parks solicited additional input from people who were unable to attend the meeting on November 28th. 

The NYC Parks design team has compiled and analyzed the ideas, identifying which ones appeared to be the most popular and fit within the scope of a capital master plan.  Among these ideas were:
·         Increasing access and connectivity
·         Enhancing park maintenance and amenities
·         Strengthening gathering places
·         More sports opportunities
·         Improving play spaces, programming and placemaking opportunities
·         Adding lighting

What will happen next?
The Community Report Back meeting is the opportunity for the community to learn more about the top concerns and priorities developed up till now and how these are being incorporated into the planning process and to accommodate them into the proposed park master plan.  You are invited to provide feedback on the initial recommendations. Continued community involvement and engagement is essential in planning for Highbridge Park’s future. Please save this date and attend the meeting and express your ideas.

Event details
Date: Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Location: Highbridge Recreation Center, 2301 Amsterdam Ave. @ W 173rd Street
Time: 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Kids are welcome to attend and contribute ideas.
Light refreshments will be provided.
Spanish translators will be present.
The site is accessible for people with disabilities.
Please tell your friends, family and colleagues about this meeting.