Saturday, August 29, 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 DOT map 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.
Artist Rendition of the New Pedestrian Bridge over the Henry Hudson Parkway

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.

last modified 9/26/1015

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. 

Telephone: 646-838-5155 ~ Email: go2heights @ ~ Website:

                   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

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!  Also note that tricycles are also permitted!

last modified 9/6/15

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.

Eco Fashion in the Park -- August 2, 2015

Eco-Fashion Show @ High Bridge by Uptown Collective
Photography - Marcus Johnson, All Rights Reserved

As reported by The Uptown Collective with a beautiful spread of fashion photographs, the Eco-Fashion Show @ High Bridge was a big success.  Take a look at all the fashions presented.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

John Bloomfield Jervis

John Bloomfield Jervis, 1877
John B. Jervis was the chief engineer for the Croton Aqueduct. He designed and supervised the original construction of the High Bridge as well as the expansion of the third tube in the 1860s.   For anyone with a serious interest in learning more about this pioneer of American technology there are a few good sources.  The first is at the Rome NY library, which not only houses his archives, but also was bequeathed to the City of Rome along with an endowment by John B. himself. The second is at the Ossining Museum in Ossining NY, and the third are a number of books about him.  More detail on these sources can be found below.

The following biographical information is presented from the Rome Library website with permission:

John B. Jervis (1795-1885) was America's leading consulting engineer of the antebellum era (1820 - 1860). Jervis was a pioneer in the development of canals and railroads for the expanding United States. He designed and supervised the construction of five of America's earliest railroads, was chief engineer of three major canal projects, designed the first locomotive to run in America, designed and built the forty-one mile Croton Aqueduct (New York City's water supply for fifty years: 1842 - 1891), and the Boston Aqueduct. Jervis authored a book on economics, The Question of Labor and Capital (1877); helped found a local industry, the Rome Iron Mills; and, of course, is the founder of Rome's public library.
Jervis House, Rome, NY, post 1925Jervis bequeathed his home and personal library to the city of Rome, New York, to be used as a public library. His personal library is kept intact as a memorial and for research purposes. The papers of John Jervis number in the thousands, and include memoirs, manuscripts of books he authored, scrapbooks, folios and quartos, nearly 600 engineering plans and drawings (some in watercolor), maps, public documents, and countless letters and reports. His library also includes 1,800 monograph volumes on general topics as well as a concentration on applied sciences and civil engineering. Copyrights and dates of publication range from the 1670's through the 1880's.
Jervis began his career in Rome as an Axeman for an Erie Canal survey party in 1817. By 1823 he was superintendent of a fifty-mile section of the Erie Canal. In 1827 he was appointed Chief Engineer of the Delaware and Hudson Canal project. It was John Jervis who suggested that a railroad be incorporated into this project. At this time there were no railroads in America, but Jervis won approval of his idea and even designed the railroad's locomotive, the Stourbridge Lion, the first locomotive to run in America. In honor of his work on the Delaware and Hudson, Port Jervis, N.Y., is named for him.
First experimental engine to use boogy wheelsIn 1830, as Chief Engineer of the Mohawk & Hudson Railway (the first section of what was later to be the N.Y. Central R. R.), Jervis designed "The Experiment." This was the first locomotive in the world to have a free-swinging, four-wheel front truck, which gave the vehicle greater maneuverability and enabled it to travel at an unprecedented speed of eighty miles per hour. The Jervis design became the standard American design.
The monumental task of building New York City's forty-one mile water-supply system (The Croton Aqueduct) was given to Jervis in 1836. The system included the Croton Dam, the Ossining Bridge, the Harlem River Bridge, the Receiving, Equalizing, and Distributing Reservoirs on Manhattan, as well as the magnificent embankments, tunnels, and arches employed throughout the aqueduct system. (Original illustrations and engravings of these structures are preserved in the Smithsonian Institution and in the Library of Congress). The six-year project employed over 4,000 workers, and when completed, carried seventy-five million gallons daily to New York City.
Plan of centering and abutment Sing-Sing-Kill Bridge (detail)Jervis's other notable contributions include the design and construction of the following: the ninety-eight mile Chenango Canal (1833), the enlargement of the eastern division of the Erie Canal (1834), the Boston water supply project (1846), the Hudson River R. R. (1847-1850), the Michigan Southern & Northern Indiana R.R., the Chicago & Rock Island R.R. (1850 - 1858), and he was general Superintendent of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railway (1861-64). Again, we must stress that these undertakings were "pioneering" ventures. Jervis's projects were filled with "first" and "untried" engineering principles, and as such, were "schools" for a generation of American civil engineers.
Jervis House, Rome, NY, pre 1925Jervis returned home to Rome in 1864. In 1869 he organized the Merchants Iron Mill, which survives today as the Rome Iron Mill. He spent the remainder of his life writing and in 1877 published a book on economics, The Question of Labor and Capital. Upon his death he bequeathed a large portion of his estate to the city of Rome for a library. His personal library remains as a special collection in Rome's Jervis Library. A Library of Congress representative noted that it is one of the most complete sets of early railroad and canal reports and maps in existence.


Note here that while it is not clear from the material above, John B. Jervis was a self educated man. He did not attend any institution of higher education.  In fact, there is no evidence that he ever completed his secondary education.

According to Lori Chien of the Rome Library, "He apprenticed with Benjamin Wright on the Erie Canal and learned on the job, and also read widely on his own.  You may be interested in reading these two books about his life:  "The Reminiscences of John B. Jervis, Engineer of the Old  Croton," and "John B. Jervis:  An American Engineering Pioneer" by F. Daniel Larkin. ... Please note that the Jervis papers are open to qualified researchers by appointment only, which needs to be made at least two weeks in advance."

Like many other Enlightened individual of that era like Joseph Priestley, who has been written about extensively, John Jervis demonstrated that a formal education was not necessarily a requirement for significant scientific and technological contributions. Individuals like Jervis and Priestley can teach us much about the human mind and how profound understanding of knowledge can be acquired as a basis for creative thought by just about anyone.

The Ossining Museum in Ossining NY has a delightful exhibit on the Old Croton Aqueduct and John B Jervis.  They also have a great exhibit on the history of the local prison (sometimes referred to as Sing Sing, or the Big House).  We highly recommend a visit there if you are in the area for both of the exhibits.

last modified 8/6/15

Highbridge River Walk with Mike Feller --- August 15, 2015


9:30 a.m.11:00 a.m.Saturday, August 15, 2015
As summer temperatures soar, the forest slope along the Harlem River is one of the coolest places in Manhattan.  We'll search for wildflowers, insects, birds, and some of Manhattan's last remaining freshwater seeps and springs.
Sponsored by the Fort Tryon Park Trust and the Greenacre Foundation.
This event is part of the Season of the High Bridge!


Map data ©2015 Google

Dyckman Sitting Area in Highbridge Park
Directions to this location



Contact Number

(212) 795-1388

Contact Email

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Need for a New Stairway to the High Bridge in Washington Heights

c 2015 David Comora

Now that the city has committed to the demolition and reconstruction of the Grand Stairway between the High Bridge and the waterfront on the Bronx side of the bridge, it seems only fitting that they should also reconsider the reconstruction of a more friendly stairway on the Manhattan side.

Complaints have been coming in from pedestrians and bicyclists alike about the awkward situation in Highbridge Park.  The stairway is very steep, very long, very dangerous, and impossible to navigate for many.  The only alternative right now is to travel all the way down to 165th Street and Edgecombe Ave. and enter Highbridge Park on the path there that goes toward the High Bridge or visa versa.  This adds about 16 additional blocks to the trip!

It isn't as though the hillside where the current stairway is located can't be re-sculpted to accommodate a 'Petit Grand Stairway' and bicycle ramp to allow access for the disabled, handicapped, and bicyclists.

Courtesy Jon Sobel @ Park Odyssey

This past week we have reports of people being daunted by the stairway and an incident of a woman receiving extensive burns from the Victorian Era railing.

copyright Roy Levit, with permission
Certainly, after spending almost $62 million to rebuild the High Bridge you would think that the City could come up with the extra dollars necessary to get the crowds of expected visitors safely to the bridge from the Water Tower Plaza some 100 feet above the entrance to the bridge. Even the John T Brush Stairway to Heaven over on Coogan's Bluff has a recent redo.

And what about those restrooms we all need?

David Comora Went on that Photo Shoot with Ron Levit

c 2015 David Comora
Photo above: The iconic Circle Line approaching the High Bridge.
No reports of objects being thrown over the fence since the bridge reopened. 
David Comora, Photographer
copyright Roy Levit 2015
David Comora is a New Yorker and a photo enthusiast who "caught the bug" in a 6th grade (too many years ago) photography class when he saw his first print become visible in a tray of developer. He is now a technologist working for an energy company, running a technology company, and making images whenever he can. His passion is black and white, but he does have to shoot color from time to time to appease his wife. When not taking family snaps of his beautiful almost 2-year old daughter, he is now focusing more on project photography - trying to find exactly what it is he'd like to say.  To see more of David's, please click here
David believes that just about any camera these days can take amazing images and as Ansel Adams once said, "the most important part of any camera is the 12 inches behind the viewfinder."  That being said, David uses a Leica Monochrom using a Voightlander 15mm lens.  Other lenses used for these images include a 135mm and a 35mm lens.

c 2015 David Comora

c 2015 David Comora

c 2015 David Comora

c 2015 David Comora

c 2015 David Comora

c 2015 David Comora
c 2015 David Comora

c 2015 David Comora

c 2015 David Comora

c 2015 David Comora

c 2015 David Comora
This last photo looks like kids from the Bronx scrambling that last leg up the steep stairs so that they can get to the swimming pool quicker.

last modified 8/5/15 @ 11:00am