The High Bridge

In 1848, High Bridge, the oldest surviving bridge in New York City, was built to bring water to the burgeoning city of New York. Aside from transporting water, the bridge connected the metropolitan borough of Manhattan to the lush rural area of the Bronx, so that both city dwellers and those who lived in the country could easily travel back and forth. After being closed for over forty years, the bridge, built in the style of ancient Roman aqueducts, was opened to pedestrians in the summer of 2015.

Read on for the top ten secrets of High Bridge, from its origins to the present day, and join us on March 30th at 12 p.m. for a virtual walk over Manhattan’s oldest surviving bridge with Chief Experience Officer Justin Rivers. Learn the history behind this unique bridge’s construction and the monumental feat to bring clean drinking water to a thirsty New York, examine how the bridge was one of New York City’s most sought after attractions during the late 1800s, debunk a long-standing myth about Edgar Allen Poe, and discover some of the incredible structural transformations the bridge has undergone over the years. Tickets for this talk are available for $10. The event is free for Untapped New York Insiders. If you’re not a member, join now (new members get their first month free with code JOINUS).

High Bridge

Secrets of Manhattan’s Oldest Surviving Bridge: The High Bridge

1. High Bridge Was Part of the Croton Aqueduct System

Croton Aqueduct Gatehouse on Amsterdam Avenue

New York City faced high demand for water following the Great Fire of New York in 1835. The solution to the lack of freshwater was the Old Croton Aqueduct, which went into service in 1842. It was one of the first modern aqueduct systems in the United States and brought water across 41 miles by gravity alone.

The aqueduct was originally a single pipe that crossed the Harlem River, but it could not sustain the city’s rapidly growing needs. During this time, an engineering team led by John B. Jervis started building High Bridge. It opened in 1848 and brought water from the Croton River in Westchester County to Upper Manhattan via two 36-inch pipes inside the bridge. In the early 1860s, the two pipes were replaced by one 90-inch pipe.