For First Time in 40 Years, NYC’s Oldest Bridge Reopens

NEW YORK (AP) -
The High Bridge in 1900 (L), and as workers last year prepare the city’s oldest bridge for its opening on Tuesday. (Wikipedia Commons)
The High Bridge in 1900 (L), and as workers last year prepare the city’s oldest bridge for its opening on Tuesday. (Wikipedia Commons)

A pedestrian bridge that brought needed water resources to Manhattan in the 19th century but fell into disuse in the 1970s was officially reopened to the public on Tuesday, offering downtown views and a connection between Manhattan and the Bronx.

The grey clouds couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd at the High Bridge, many of whom wore bright blue Department of Parks and Recreation hats, signifying their contribution to the countless hours of work that went into restoring the bridge.

Community members and elected officials from the Bronx walked across the bridge and met their Manhattan counterparts in the middle.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer met Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. in the middle and shouted, “Welcome to Manhattan.”

The High Bridge was built in 1848. It spans the Harlem River, connecting Manhattan’s Washington Heights and the Bronx’s Highbridge neighborhoods. The 123-foot-high, 1,450-foot-long bridge once attracted thousands of visitors who came to enjoy the spectacular views and surrounding green spaces. However, by the mid-1960s that all began to wane with construction of the Major Deegan Expressway and the Harlem River Drive.

The bridge was closed in the 1970s. The $61.8 million restoration began in 2012.

“This is almost like the eighth wonder of the world,” Brewer said.