Wednesday, February 8, 2017

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.

Please subscribe to our newsletter.

last modified 7/28/2015

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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.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Shape Up NYC's Fitness Party at Highbridge Park Jan 12, 2017

NYC Parks & Rec Department is sponsoring a FREE Fitness Party at the Recreation Center in Highbridge Park on January 12, 2017 at 6 PM.

Highbridge Recreation Center
2301 Amsterdam Avenue (173rd St.)
New York, NY 10033

Participants will engage in free fitness class demos - Zumba, Kickboxing, Dance Fitness and more! 
Light refreshments will be served. There will be a few special raffles and plenty of giveaways throughout the night.
Hope you can make it there!
For reservations please click here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Exterior Street -- Bronx

Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy, The New York Public Library. "Exterior Street - Highbridge" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1887 - 1986.
This little known street in the Bronx runs along the Harlem River. In this picture from 1887 you can clearly see the street right near the water with the Washington Bridge in the foreground and the High Bridge in the background.

In the map below you can clearly see its location right at the river's edge as it passes under the High Bridge.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

River Walk Scheduled for December 18

Information on this next Sunday's river walk by Paul Kittas of Heights Historic Tours is a bit scant, but it appears that in addition to a walk there will be a talk.  The talk will start at 10:50am, 10 minutes before the walk starts.  There is no registration required and the tour is free to attendees. The walk is over a mile long on level ground, so you won't need your mountaineering boots for this one.  The expected duration of the walk/talk is unknown.  It is not known if there are any limitations on the number of participants that can go on the tour. There are no restroom facilities either at the meeting location, along the route of the tour, or at the point of termination.  If you want more specific information it is suggested that you contact Paul Kittas directly at 646 318 5906.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Report on the Visioning Meeting on the Highbridge Park on November 28

This past Monday, on  November 28, at 6:30 p.m. NYC Parks and our elected officials  hosted a Community Visioning Session at Highbridge Recreation Center (173rd St. & Amsterdam Ave.) for Highbridge Park. The purpose was to share ideas, concerns and hopes for this 130-acre park stretching from West 155th Street up to Dyckman Street in northern Manhattan.  The meeting had over a hundred attendees and officials were ecstatic to see so many different people representing such diverse parts of the community at the meeting.  

Highbridge Park is one of only five parks in the city selected 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.   The Anchor Parks program is an idea of making the older, larger parks in New York City, and revitalizing them as major spaces for their respective communities. 
There are three stages for this process:  Design, Procurement, and Construction.  In total, it will take several years until we see the end product for Highbridge. The last major renovation for Highbridge took place in 2013 as part of an upland forest restoration program.  This program was especially important for Highbridge, which has an ecology that cannot be found in any other part of New York City.  

At the meeting, there were about 15 tables with about 7-10 people at each one,  and each table came along with a massive picture map of Highbridge to aid people in the input they would have for the meeting.  Additionally, there were two representatives at each table from the Parks Department who were there to act as guides and answer questions.  After going through some slides about the history of the park and some general ideas for inspiration, each table was asked to spent about half an hour coming up with ideas about what they would like to see done in this capital project cycle, and each table would then vote on their top three improvements and additions that they would like to see done.  After that, one person from each table presented their discussion and ideas to the whole auditorium of people. 

The following points represent the bulk of ideas that were mentioned by the attendees:

  •  Adding lighting throughout the park
  •  Installing water fountains
  •  Adding comfort stations (bathrooms) 
  •  Updating playgrounds and adding outdoor fitness equipment for adults
  •  Improving pathways and increasing connectivity between the northern and southern ends of         the park
  •  Adding benches
  •  Improving access to natural areas/trails, and fixing staircases
  • Adding wayfinding signage in multiple languages
  • Making park entrances that are more welcoming with greeting, gardens, and landscaping
Now the landscape architects are tasked with trying to accommodate as many of these suggestions as possible, within the footprint of the park and the project budget, in the proposed design.
Other proposals, such as improving maintenance and security, and increased publicity for public programming, will have to be addressed separately since they are outside the scope of a capital project. There will be Community Report Back Meeting in early 2017.  

If you were unable to attend the meeting or you have some additional thoughts you’re in luck! You can still submit your ideas online here ( through December 12, 2016.   Click the green “Share Your Thoughts” button on the bottom left side of the page.
NYC Parks & Rec wants to hear from as many Highbridge Park users as possible. With your help, we can make sure that everyone has a chance to contribute to this effort. Please tell your friends, family and colleagues about this online form.

Please stay tuned for more details.  

Ben Kohanim