After over 40 years of being closed off to the public and after decades of community groups working to restore and reopen it, The High Bridge is finally opening this coming Tuesday, June 9th.
The High Bridge is New York City’s oldest bridge completed in 1848, although it has been altered and portions even removed since its construction, one can still see the majority of the original remaining structure on The Bronx side of the span.
Watch this PBS Video on The High Bridge:
Taking 11 years to complete, the bridge was built as an aqueduct in a Roman style to quench the thirst of an ever-growing New York City (remember, at this time, The Bronx was still part of Westchester County and was several decades away before the South and Western Bronx were annexed to the city and NYC was confined to Manhattan).
“During the early nineteenth century the chief occupations of lower Westchester County were growing wheat and raising livestock; between 1800 and 1830 the population rose from 1755 to 3023. Severe famine in Ireland and the growth of industry and commerce in the city drew thousands of Irish to the Bronx as laborers. Many Irish immigrants were employed in the construction of the High Bridge over the Harlem River, the New York and Harlem Railroad, and the Croton Aqueduct. Much of the area consisted of fertile lands that yielded fruits, vegetables, and dairy products for sale in the city. The first railroad tracks were laid over these lands, and rural stations eventually became the centers of new villages such as Melrose, Tremont, and Riverdale. As the railroad was extended, the center of population shifted west from the area east of the Bronx River, and the towns of West Farms (1846) and Morrisania (1855) were established.” – A Walk Through The Bronx/Thirteen PBS
The bridge wasn’t fully shut off to the general public, it was still open for tours by NYC Park Rangers until the late 1990s due to safety concerns from structural flaws discovered.
Scheduled to have been open in 2009, anticipation has been building for years for this landmark to reopen and connect the neighborhoods of Washington Heights in Manhattan and Highbridge in The Bronx.
At over 2,000 feet in length, it isn’t anywhere near as long as the High Line in Manhattan but at almost 140 feet in height it more than towers above the city offering incomparable views lacking from Manhattan’s famous park.
This is an exciting time for Bronx residents as we get to reclaim part of our historic past and take it beyond into the future. Just last week we were celebrating the official opening of Bridge Park, now this!
Check out images of Bridge Park:
Do you have memories of The High Bridge? We’d like to know!