The High Bridge, completed in 1848 and now New York City’s oldest standing bridge, spans the Harlem River at 173rd Street in Manhattan. It officially closed sometime during the early 1970s — the Parks Department, mysteriously, isn’t certain of the exact date — but remained open for ranger tours until the late 1990s, when the gates were shut to all but Parks employees after engineers discovered structural flaws.
Today the bridge lies unused but not ignored. PLANYC, the Department of Parks & Recreation’s initiative to find new and creative uses for open or unused space, is in the process of restoring the bridge. They plan to re-open it to the public as part of Highbridge Park by 2013.
We were excited to walk the bridge before the restoration, not only to capture its features before they’re refurbished, but also because the City’s plan understandably calls for safety fences to be installed along the bridge in addition to the waist-high, 19th Century railing in place today. While the new, taller fences won’t altogether mar the panoramic views from the bridge, they will certainly diminish the open, birds-eye feeling one gets standing on its deck.
—Daniel Ross, producer