The High Bridge

The High Bridge Water Tower enabled water from Croton Reservoir to service upper Manhattan.

The High Bridge Water Tower enabled water from Croton Reservoir to service upper Manhattan.

From old photos, it almost looks the Bronx and Manhattan have an uneasy Cold War peace, with the oldest bridge linking Manhattan with the mainland resembling a scene from a divided Berlin.

Steel barricades ringed with razor wire and steel fraising still adorn the ends of the High Bridge, which has linked the Bronx neighborhood that bears its name with Washington Heights in Manhattan since 1848.

But when I visited in early October, the barricades were opened. The acrid smell of hot steel and burning paint filled the air as workers ground rust and paint from the antique ironwork railings, the buzz of portable grinders harmonizing with the unseen traffic on the Harlem River Drive below.

Highbridge Park is quiet on a weekday – the pool is drained, the basketball courts are empty, but that could change, when the long -closed span is reopened as part of a $20 million parks department renovation. When reopened, the isolated Highbridge community in the Bronx will again have easy access to Manhattan, and vice versa.

The Highbridge community is just across the river from Washington Heights, but an arduous trek that can take over an hour. When the High Bridge reopens, the two communities will again be a short walk apart.

The Highbridge community is just across the river from Washington Heights, but an arduous trek that can take over an hour. When the High Bridge reopens, the two communities will again be a short walk apart.

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