Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Protected Bike Lanes Coming to Washington Heights After CB 12 Vote

Last night Local Community Board 12 approved the Protected Bike Lanes plan proposed by the DOT.  According to Stephen Miller of Streetsblog NYC in an article that has just appeared.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Recollections of a Little Girl on the Early Days of the High Bridge.

In 1849-1850 Catherine Elizabeth Havens wrote a diary that was eventually published by Henry Collins Brown as Diary of a Little Girl in Old New York 

Starting on page 85, which corresponds to some time between April and May she wrote:

"One Fourth of July, my father got a carriage from Hathorn's stable and took my mother and my sister and my brother and me out to see the High Bridge. It is built with beautiful arches, and brings the Croton water to New York. My brother says he remembers riding to the place where the Croton aqueduct crossed Harlem River by a syphon before the Bridge was built, and the man who took charge of it opened a jet at the lowest point, and sent a two-inch stream up a hundred feet.
My mother says when she was young everybody drank the Manhattan water. Everybody had a cistern for rain water for washing, in the back-yards. And when she lived in Maiden Lane, the servants had to go up to the corner of Broadway and get the drinking water from the pump there. It was a great bother, and so when my grandfather built his new house at 19 Maiden Lane, he asked the aldermen if he might run a pipe to the kitchen of his house from the pump at the corner of Broadway, and they said he could, and he had a faucet in the kitchen, and it was the first house in the city to have drinking water in it, and after that several gentlemen called on my grandfather and asked to see his invention. My mother says the Manhattan water was brackish and not very pleasant to drink."

Saturday, March 21, 2015

City to Create New "Plaza de Las Americas" near Highbridge Park on 175th St.

According to an article in StreetsBLOGNYC on March 20, 2015 the city broke ground on a new Plaza on 175th St between Broadway and Wadsworth Ave. The more than 1/4 acre Plaza de Las Americas will be located next to the historic United Palace Theatre.   Amenities for the Plaza will include trees, lighting, benches, tables, chairs and a fountain by artist Ester Partegas according to the DOT.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Finding the High Bridge Aqueduct

Normally improved access is part of large government funded renovation projects.  In the $61 million dollar upgrade of the High Bridge Aqueduct, better access only consisted of ADA compliant ramps and new outriggers that are esthetically appliqued onto the north side of the stone structure.  Their purpose is to increase the number of people that can get onto the bridge at one time and allow access for people with disabilities.  Outside the confines of the visible stone aqueduct, no new paths or improvements were in the scope of work. 

And the question still remains, “How does one find the High Bridge Aqueduct?”

Pedestrian convenience was never an important design criterion during the construction of the forty-one mile long Croton Aqueduct when it was built in the first half of the 19th century.  As explained in other posts, the configuration of any component of the aqueduct was based on one thing: keeping the water flowing smoothly downhill from upper Westchester to its Manhattan resting place at the reservoir on forty-second street.

Therefore, when construction of the aqueduct reached the Harlem River, the height, slope and exact location of the required aqueduct bridge was already determined by hydrological factors.  The engineers basically just determined where the water carrying apparatus had to be located and built the stone structure around it for support.

While this stone bridge is visible from many locations like the McComb’s Dam Bridge, the Major Deegan Expressway, the Harlem River Drive and the other bridges nearby that cars use to cross the Harlem River, finding it on foot or by bicycle is another story.  

At the exact point the water pipe pierces the rock face, which forms the Harlem River Valley on the Manhattan side, there is no street address.  The reason for this is that it is located well within Highbridge Park.   You have to walk through the park to actually get to the pedestrian walkway that connects to the top of the bridge.  

To assist everyone in getting on the Aqueduct Bridge we provide two access routes from the Manhattan side and two from the Bronx side.  We tried to identify the most convenient paths of access.  The map identifies each of the four entrance points and provides directional information.

Four informational items (Pedestrian, Bicycle, MTA, and Entrance) are coordinated with the included map and give more specific information about the quality of the access provided at each of the four access routes.
Manhattan Side
Most direct is coming into the park at 172nd St.  Remember, that the guiding feature is the water tower which is aligned with the aqueduct bridge.  However, the 100 or so step steep and narrow wood stairs are a major impediment to getting down to the pedestrian path and onto the bridge from this approach. 

Pedestrian: a high staircase will be daunting to some
Bicycle: terrible.  You will have to carry your bike down the stairs
MTA: 1, A and C trains 
Entrance: 172nd Street

From the south you enter High Bridge Park at 165th St. at Edgecombe Ave. and follow the paved path north.This is the only Manhattan section of the aqueduct path that is paved.  This allows police and emergency equipment to access and service this site.  Walking or biking north it is not long until both the tower and the actual bridge are visible.

Entrance sign at 165th & Edgecombe, courtesy Jim Zisfein

Pedestrian: about a ¼ mile walk
Bicycle: easy smooth ride 
MTA: 1, A and C trains
Entrance: 165th Street 

Bronx Side

Coming from the north you head south from the 181st Street Washington Bridge on Martin Luther King Boulevard and the High Bridge Aqueduct is only a few blocks south.   Once you reach the entrance a generous curved walkway takes you to the  pedestrian walkway.

Pedestrian:  Good
Bicycle: Good
MTA: 4, D & B Train
Entrance: from Martin Luther King Boulevard (University Ave.)

Coming from the south you typically either just walked across the McCombs Dam Bridge or got here by subway. Starting near Yankee Stadium, where Jerome and Sedgwick Ave begin, you are next to the Major Deegan Expressway walking north on Sedgwick Ave along the sidewalk.  A few blocks north Martin Luther King Boulevard, which is also named University Avenue, branches off and heads uphill. The High Bridge Aqueduct, which was fully visible before, now disappears behind tall buildings as you climb the slight incline.  At 167th Street there is a “peek-a-boo” view of the HBA which completely fills your view at this point.  Continuing up a few more blocks, the entrance butts up against the street and a short set of stairs leads you onto the bridge.
Pedestrian: Good
Bicycle: Good
MTA:  4, D & B Train 
Entrance: Martin Luther King Boulevard (University Ave.)

Have a good walk or bike ride while avoiding the crowds.

Paul Kittas, Contributor

Editor's note: There is also a good YouTube video on "Finding the High Bridge" here, and a set of directions put out by Parks and Rec here.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Reopening The High Bridge: Celebration Planning Forum

The High Bridge Opening Celebration will be on July 25, 2015 at 10AM

Please join NYC Parks, Partnerships for Parks, the Harlem River Working Group and The High Bridge Coalition at these community forums to review plans for celebrating the bridge’s reopening, and consider how your group could enhance those plans.
Partner with us to make The High Bridge’s reopening a monumental event and ensure that The High Bridge is celebrated and sustained for future generations!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Reopening The High Bridge: Celebration Planning Forum

at Highbridge Recreation Center (in Highbridge Park), Manhattan

6:30 p.m.8:30 p.m.
You are invited to contribute ideas and plan celebrations for the reopening of The High Bridge.
Category: Volunteer

Monday, March 30, 2015


Reopening The High Bridge: Celebration Planning Forum

at Highbridge Green School, Bronx

6:00 p.m.8:00 p.m.
You are invited to contribute ideas and plan celebrations for the reopening of The High Bridge.
Category: Volunteer

Contact Number

(212) 408-0282

Contact Email

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Old Croton Aqueduct Bike Tour NYC H2O

NYC H2O logo    
Saturday April 18 at noon  
NYPL 42nd Street   
Aqueduct exposed at W. 105th Street, 1928  (DEP)
In 1842, the Croton Aqueduct began delivering water to New York City from the Croton River 41 miles to the north. In the decades leading up to the aqueduct's completion the city had suffered epidemics of Asiatic Cholera and Yellow Fever because water came from increasingly polluted wells. Fire also devastated the city several times, including the Great Fire of 1835 in which 700 buildings burned down because there was no reliable water source to extinguish the fires. The aqueduct was an incredible work of engineering never before accomplished on such a large scale. It delivered 40 million gallons of clean reliable drinking water daily to a rapidly growing city.

Join NYC native Matt Malina and urban educator Matheson Westlake on a bike ride that travels from the 42nd Street Library on the Old Croton Aqueduct route to the Highbridge.