There’s a new alternative venue for strolling, people-watching and getting your “history buzz”–the High Bridge connecting Upper Manhattan to the Bronx has been re-opened for the first time in over 40 years!
What a nice jaunt it is to cross the narrow Harlem River like Edgar Allan Poe did, over the oldest standing bridge in NYC, first opened to carry water supply pipes into the city in 1848. It has been said that Poe frequently hiked from his cottage near the Fordham University Rose Hill campus, crossing into Manhattan over the span. High Bridge Water Tower and the surrounding Highbridge park still provide a sylvan setting on the New York County side of the crossing, as they did when the bridge first opened. The Bronx County side is now, unfortunately, endowed with views of the Major Deegan Expressway and the Metro North tracks. So the “river views” are not nearly as dramatic or pristine as those you get on the Walkway Over the Hudson near Poughkeepsie. But anytime you can stand in a location within the five boroughs of NYC that hasn’t been open to the public since the 1960’s, it’s a rare treat. Knowing that the original water supply pipes for Manhattan are still ensconced under the walkway, makes it even more of a thrill for history buffs.
Renovation of the walkway over the bridge was completed in June, and a formal festival to celebrate its reopening will be held on Saturday, July 25, from noon to 4 pm. You can enter from the Manhattan side at Amsterdam Ave. and 173rd Street, or from University Ave. and 170th Street in the Bronx. Children’s activities will include the City Parks Foundation’s Puppet Mobile and a Bridge Making Workshop presented by the Bronx Children’s Museum. Bronx County Historical Society’s Angel Hernandez will lead a walk on the bridge and around neighborhood historic sites at 11 a.m. Purchase a ticket and get more information about High Bridge at http://www.bronxcountyhistoricalsociety.org. At 7 pm, a SummerStage concert on the Manhattan side of the bridge, featuring Jose Pena Suazo y La Banda Gorda will close out the day. If you can’t make it for the opening festival, the bridge is now open from 7 am to 8 pm daily. Bicycles and pedestrians are both welcome to visit.
Speaking of bridges–and ways to instill in children an awe and appreciation of the city’s incredible quantity and variety of such structures–Arch for Kids will be leading a free bridge-building workshop at Brooklyn Public Library’s Ft. Hamilton Branch on Thursday, July 23, from 2-3:30 p.m. The library is located at 9424 Fourth Avenue, in southwest Brooklyn, 11209. Register for the program at http://www.bklynlibrary.org/calendar/bridges-new-york-archfork-fort-hamilton-library-072315.
During the 90-minute session, children and their families/caretakers will choose one of NYC’s bridges–either a suspension, cable-stayed, lift, or swing bridge, and then create an accurate 3D paper and string model of it to take home. Arch for Kids, an outstanding group of educators I joined last year, plans the curriculum and provides materials and instruction for participants. The group conducts a diverse range of fascinating design projects with students throughout the metropolitan area, in public, private and charter schools, libraries and museums. Check out their website at http://www.archforkids.com. Join us to build bridges this Thursday!
Text and photos copyright 2015 Vivian R. Carter, except photos of Marine Parkway Bridge and Verrazano Bridge (both copyright 2010 Vivian R. Carter).