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A Stroll on the High Bridge

The High Bridge is one of fourteen bridges that cross the Harlem River and connect Manhattan (at Highbridge Park and 173rd Street) to the Bronx (at West 170th Street, in the Highbridge section). The bridge, for pedestrians only, reopened last July after several decades of closure and undergoing approximately $62 million worth of renovations.

A Stroll on the High Bridge

Towards The Bronx

A Stroll on the High Bridge

Towards Manhattan

Known originally as the Aqueduct Bridge, the High Bridge was part of the Croton Aqueduct that transported water from the Croton Reservoir in Northern Westchester to Manhattan. Construction on the High Bridge, which was designed to recall a Roman aqueduct, began in 1837 and was completed in 1848. It is the city’s oldest remaining bridge.

Spanning 1450 feet and 102 feet high, the bridge had 15 arches, 7 over land and 8 over the river. The arches were built high enough to allow navigation on the river, however, they were too narrow and in 1927, a steel arch replaced five of the 8 arches. The aqueduct closed in the 1950s and pedestrian access was closed in the 1970s.

A Stroll on the High Bridge

A Stroll on the High Bridge

Taking a stroll across the High Bridge, as 1900s New Yorkers used to, has been on my list since last summer but I didn’t get around to doing that until the Memorial Day weekend. My friend and I entered the sprawling Highbridge Park at Amsterdam between West 173 and 174 Streets and followed the signs to the bridge. Through the trees, we spotted some of the arches that remain on the Bronx side of the bridge and the High Bridge Water Tower, which was directly in front of us.

A Stroll on the High Bridge

A Stroll on the High Bridge

A Stroll on the High Bridge

Designated a New York City Landmark in 1967, the 200-foot octagonal High Bridge Water Tower was built on the Manhattan side of the High Bridge in 1866-72 to help meet the city’s need for water.

A Stroll on the High Bridge

High Bridge Water Tower, a NYC Landmark

To get to the pedestrian bridge, we walked down approximately 100 steps (I saw a sign to the Edgecombe Avenue and 165 Street ramp entrance but a light drizzle started before I could check it out.) To my surprise, the bridge was not crowded at all – a few joggers, families out for a stroll, their kids, as soon as they saw the wide open space, took off running and giggling like only they know to do.

A Stroll on the High Bridge

At almost 100 steps, the stairs look daunting. There’s also ramp access.

A Stroll on the High Bridge

To the ramp

Unless I’m a passenger, whenever I’m on Harlem River Drive, I never have time to take in the view. From the High Bridge, I could see the Alexander Hamilton Bridge and the Washington Bridge (which, along with the Henry Hudson, comprise the four fixed arch bridges that span the river), and the parts of Manhattan and the Bronx that line the river.

A Stroll on the High Bridge

View of Harlem River Drive, the Harlem River and the Alexander Hamilton Bridge. Across the river is part of the Bronx. 

The original stonework on the bridge, the walkway, lighting and fencing were improved. I liked the addition of plaques that describe a bit of the High Bridge’s history. They’re off to the side, so be sure not to miss them. There are also a few benches for those who wish to linger a while and watch the traffic on the river or the Metro North trains as they head north.

High Bridge Particulars:

You can enter the bridge either from the Amsterdam and West 172 Street (High Bridge Park) entrance, or from the Edgecombe Avenue and West 165 Street ramp access on the Manhattan side. From the Bronx side, use University Avenue and 170th Street. The bridge is open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. There is no fee.

Comments

  1. What a post full of interesting facts! Shows how little I know about New York ;0) My sister lives in The Bronx. I have to ask her if she knows about this bridge.

  2. Hi Marcia! Nice to see that this bridge has been reopened. I love the history markers. Great view of Harlem River Drive. What a great place to spend a few hours, and the fact that it’s free doesn’t hurt either! Thanks for linking up this week.

  3. That would have been exciting, having the bridge open after so long. It is surprising that it didn’t have a lot more people on it. I’m guessing it would be a useful bridge and good for a casual week-end stroll to.

  4. The view from the High Bridge looks great but I would find those 100 steps a bit too daunting.

  5. Something new to do in NYC! I love walking the High Line, is this a similar experience?
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  6. I wish I’d known about this bridge during our last trip to New York. High Bridge is a rather unique bridge. We did walk across the Brooklyn Bridge last time, but I guess most tourists to NYC take this walk.

  7. This looks like a wonderful place to see not just for locals but also tourists. Love the history behind it and glad they finally opened it to the public. What great views!
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  8. Just perfect for an eve-out. The silence, natural views, and weather seemed to be pleasing over there. I would like to request you to come up with better quality photographs next time. Thanks for the share.

  9. Grey World Nomads says:

    It looks like a peaceful way to explore Manhattan and surroundings by foot over the High Bridge. Great job that they fixed it up so nicely.

  10. Impressive dimensions of the bridge. Only one lock!
    Loved the captures from the bridge and the bridge too looks magnificent!

  11. The High Line is way more crowded than the High Bridge. It’s also a longer walk. Another difference is that the High Bridge is totally above water.

  12. The steps can be daunting but thankfully, they have a ramp entrance. We didn’t get a chance to see it, maybe next time.

  13. Thanks, Ruth. I’m sure she does.

  14. It is magnificent and enjoyable walking down the bridge.