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Restoration of The High Bridge

The High Bridge has been closed to pedestrians for nearly 40 years. The hard work and commitment by the members of the High Bridge Coalition, Bronx and Manhattan residents, and friends of the bridge throughout New York City—and beyond—have succeeded in making the bridge a top priority, and the bridge will be restored and reopened!

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has allocated $60 million for the restoration of the High Bridge. The project is part of New York City's PlaNYC initiative to provide a park that every New Yorker can walk to within 10 minutes. Congressman José E. Serrano provided $5 million to complete part of the bridge restoration. Together, these funds will allow the Parks Department to restore the bridge, using historic preservation methods. The work will include:

  • Restoration of the stone arches
  • Restoration of the steel arch
  • Restoration of the brick walkway and handrails
  • Stabilization of the 90–inch water pipe
  • New wheelchair– and bicycle–friendly ramps
  • New safety fencing
  • New lighting

Learn more about the PlaNYC restoration of the High Bridge, including upcoming meetings. 

Read the executive summary of the New York City Department of Transportation inspection report, released November 2006 (PDF, 306 KB).

More Restoration Projects

Getting to the bridge.  On August 26, 2008, Mayor Bloomberg opened the just–restored historic cast iron staircase from the Water Tower Terrace and a new wheelchair– and bike–accessible ramp from Sunken Playground, providing access up to the Manhattan gates of the High Bridge for the first time in years. This $4.2 million project created a new public plaza at the entrance to the bridge and was funded by the mayor and a grant from the Federal Highway Administration's Transportation Enhancements Program.

Visit the new plaza and pathway from entrances at the Water Tower Terrace, off of 173rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue, or from Sunken Playground, at 165th Street and Edgecombe Avenue.

Ribbon Cutting for iron staircase and ramps to High Bridge. Photo by Danny Avila
Photo by Danny Avila

Bronx Gatehouse Repair. This project installed a new roof and cleaned and waterproofed the entire gatehouse in Highbridge Park, Bronx. The project was completed in August 2007 and reveals the beauty of the building’s stone blocks and careful workmanship. Funding was provided by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. The Manhattan Gatehouse Repair will be taking place in the future; funds are still needed to restore the roof and interior.

The gatehouses, one each at the Bronx and Manhattan entrances to the High Bridge, contain the gates that were once used to control the flow of water through the aqueduct pipes. By opening or closing the gates, more or less water would flow over the bridge and to the reservoirs. Similar gatehouses were spaced regularly all along the 41-mile path of the aqueduct.

170th Street Step-Street. This massive historic stone staircase leading from University Avenue to Sedgwick Avenue was built in the early 1860s, at the same time as the new public walkway atop the High Bridge. It provides direct, though steep, access from the High Bridge to the Harlem River waterfront. The New York City Department of Transportation and Department of Parks & Recreation are developing a program to restore the stairs. Partial funding has already been provided by Councilmember Helen Diane Foster and Congressman José E. Serrano.

Highbridge Water Tower. The Department of Parks & Recreation is seeking funding for basic repairs and improvements to the Manhattan water tower. The tower, built in 1870, will have minor stone repairs, minor repairs to the ornate iron staircase, and new windows installed on the observation level.

Highbridge Park, Manhattan. The Department of Parks & Recreation, members of the High Bridge Coalition, and community partners are transforming Highbridge Park with new and newly restored facilities. The south rec center ballfields were recently renovated and New York City’s first mountain biking course was just built along Fort George Avenue. More ballfield improvements and several playground renovations will take place over the next several years. Forest restoration and landscape beautification continues with help from volunteers every spring and fall. Youth and adults alike enjoy sports and nature programs at the recreation center and throughout the park.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail. Fifteen miles of the 41-mile aqueduct lie within New York City. A sign project to create a walking trail through the Bronx and Manhattan, from Van Cortlandt Park to Bryant Park, is being designed. Walkers and hikers will be able to follow sign markers along the top of the aqueduct and see the remaining aqueduct features, including the weir building in Van Cortlandt Park, the stone walls of Aqueduct Walk (Bronx), the High Bridge, the three gatehouses at 135th, 119th and 113th Streets (Manhattan), and other hidden-in-plain-sight aqueduct markers. Follow the route of the aqueduct any day by seeing the highlights on the Virtual Tour of the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail.

Learn More

September 4, 2008 Daily Plant article: Restored Access Path Opens at Highbridge Park

Press quotes about the High Bridge The High Bridge Historical Sign