Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and High Bridges (2015)

The ARTViews Gallery at the Moses campus of the Montefiore Medical Center is exhibiting stunning photographs of Harlem River Bridges by Bronx photographer Duane Bailey-Castro. The exhibition puts a spotlight on the often overlooked waterway and its fifteen bridges that connect the Bronx and upper Manhattan.

For Bailey-Castro, this exhibition is both an expression of his personal relationship with the Harlem River and its bridges and an effort to increase public awareness of their historical and architectural significance.  A Bronx native, his appreciation for Harlem River’s bridges began in 2007 after he started taking long walks on and around them as he was recovering from treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Old Willis Avenue Bridge (2010)

Seeing the river from a new perspective and with a new lease on life, the Harlem River and its bridges became his muse and photographing them his passion.

Noting that “New York is a city of bridges,” Bailey-Castro, who is also a middle school history teacher, told Untapped Cities that “the Harlem River is important historically as a place where many of the city’s early bridges were built.”

High Bridge and Manhattan Skyline (2014)

The High Bridge, built in 1848 and reopened to pedestrians last year after being closed for decades, is the city’s oldest bridge.  On the other hand, two of New York’s newest are the Third Avenue and Willis Avenue Bridges, both completed in the last few years to replace older obsolete spans. Besides these, the other Harlem River bridges represent a wide range of time periods and types.

Below the Alexander Hamilton Bridge (2015)

One of Bailey-Castro’s favorite views is from the river’s Bronx shoreline below the Alexander Hamilton Bridge looking northwest toward the Washington Bridge.  This view shows the expansive metal arches of both bridges with vegetation along both banks framing the river.

Photo courtesy of ARTViews Gallery at Montefiore

Given Bailey-Castro’s personal history, it seems particularly appropriate that his first solo exhibition is being displayed in a hospital where it is seen by care givers, patients, and their visiting families and friends.

In an interview with Untapped Cities, Jodi Moise, the curator at Montefiore’s ARTViews Gallery, explained that “the gallery features work by Bronx artists in a highly visible location.”

Macombs Dam Bridge (2012)

A photo of particular interest to Moise is of the Macombs Dam Bridge, which is best known as a gateway to Yankee Stadium from Harlem. Instead of the stadium, the photo focuses on other elements that typically go unnoticed; a plaque near the top of the bridge bearing its original name, “Central Bridge,” and four finials ascending from the bridge toward the sky.

Photo courtesy of ARTViews Gallery at Montefiore

The Harlem River Bridges are impressive both in their grand scale and in their fine details, such as those finials. Bailey-Castro hopes his photos of these bridges will “inspire New Yorkers to be on the lookout for the surprising beauty and rich history all around them.”

Henry Hudson Bridge and Inwood Hill Park (2014)

“Connecting People, Strengthening Communities: The Harlem River Bridges” by Duane Bailey-Castro will run at ARTViews Gallery at Montefiore until April 1, 2016, open daily 8 AM to 5 PM. The gallery is located at Montefiore Medical Center, Moses Campus, 111 East 210th Street, in the Bronx.  Subway: 4 train to Mosholu Parkway or D train to Norwood – 205 Street. MetroNorth Harlem Line to Williams Bridge station.

Next, read about the secrets of the Brooklyn Bridge and the George Washington Bridge.