The High Bridge Is Open and People Are Walking On It! Here’s Proof…

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Following a much-anticipated restoration that got a huge boost from the Bloomberg administration in 2007, the High Bridge is open to the public today for the first time in 45 years, providing a walking and biking connection between Washington Heights and the Highbridge neighborhood in the Bronx. Of course, Clarence Eckerson would never miss such a momentous occasion. Here are his photos from the day.

You can also check out Clarence’s Streetfilm from 2009 featuring some of the neighborhood advocates who helped make this happen.

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There are stairways and ramps at each end where cyclists will have to dismount.
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Clarence was one of the first to cross the newly opened span on a bike.
  • Why is there a fence behind the fence?

  • chris

    Potential suicide tourism. Thank goodness.

  • Incredibly ugly and such a shame, no? Nanny state is always there to protect you from yourself.

  • Jonathan R

    This is a long time coming. I am looking forward to crossing the High Bridge this afternoon on my way home. It’s easy to quibble with the suicide fences or the delay in opening or the limited access on the western shore, or the limited hours, but the fact that the High Bridge is open means a great deal to walking and bicycling between Manhattan and the Bronx.

  • So does the Triboro Bridge.

  • Matt

    Was just going to post this. Nothing I saw beforehand showed those ugly fences and there was even mention in a previous video on Streetfilms about how nice it is not to have high fences. Such a damn shame.

  • Matt

    Plently of other bridges in NYC without a tall fence on the pedestrian path. No need for such an ugly one here.

  • chris

    GW bridge is a very popular suicide tourism spot.

  • T. R.

    I was there. Didn’t feel it was ugly. In fact, I was afraid it would be far more industrial and fence-y. It’s okay. Beautiful views, nothing could take that away.

  • Steven Leslie

    What are the hours, by the way? I don’t live anywhere near there but it looks like this span is worth a special trip.

  • Abigail

    I’m looking forward to walking across this bridge! I remember as a kid always wondering “what was up there” and because it’s not a suspension bridge it looked higher than the other bridges in the city for some reason.

    It will also be a great spot for me to take my travel clients that want to explore Washington Hts, The Bronx or are looking for great photo ops! I’ll certainly take my own photos up there too. http://www.nativecreativeconcierge.com/#privatetours

    Sharing this post on my FB page. I’ll have write a post about this bridge once I take some photos of my own.

  • Jonathan R

    I agree with TR below. The fence was not an ordinary cyclone fence and did not interfere with views. Also happy it was there as my four-year-old squeezed himself easily through the bars of the smaller fence.

  • Hours? Isn’t it a transportation link? There shouldn’t be hours. Maybe I’m being naive.

  • Joe R.

    I don’t get that, either. Greenways and other essential links in the bike network should be open 24/7 regardless of whether the parks they might happen to go through are closed. And while we’re on that subject, for the most part NYC shouldn’t close parks at night. This practice has served no real purpose for at least a generation, if indeed it ever served any purpose. If there are problems or illegal activities in parks after dark, well, isn’t that what we pay the NYPD to deal with?

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Imagine closing a Highway After dark LOL

  • Jonathan R

    Hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., earlier closing in winter.

    I would ask you, who is willing at night to use a ‘transportation link’ (the path from the Manhattan end of the bridge to the street) that is not illuminated, not in sight of a street or sidewalk, and encircled by dense trees and steep slopes? During the day the verdant landscaping is a feature, but in the night it appears dangerous.

  • Matthias

    Beautiful, I’ve been waiting years for this. The brickwork looks really nice. I hope access at each end is fairly straightforward. Also hope that ugly netting isn’t permanent.

  • Then this appears to be a flaw with the design, not a reason for hours of operation. We don’t lament that its dangerous to drive in the dark, and close freeways and city streets at night, we require cars to have lighting, require streets to be lit, and require police to patrol to protect the public.

  • Jonathan R

    Considering the High Bridge ‘transportation link’ has been closed for 45 years, it seems peevish to complain that the restoration didn’t take into account nighttime travelers, in the same way that it is peevish to complain that the High Line is closed at night.

    Additionally, as someone who values the ample green space of Upper Manhattan and the challenging topography, I appreciate that the High Bridge restoration works within the existing park’s landscape and does not just cut a giant scar through Highbridge Park in the name of ‘transportation access.’

    I have been using the Washington Bridge to travel between Washington Heights and the Bronx before dawn for several years now. The path is a little narrow, but it’s decently lit and has good connections to the street grid.

  • Maggie

    Haven’t been there in person yet but glad the fence is better than it might look in these pictures. Sounds like it could be a safety requirement for the train tracks along the Harlem River.

    I get the willies sometimes when walking the Triboro from Randall’s Island to Queens – always wonder why that bridge doesn’t have fencing.

  • AndreL

    The netting is permanent, for safety (the bridge is listed and they couldn’t raise the railings for a minimally accepted height).

  • So what you’re saying is any new roads, highways, or bridges we build for cars, can close at night. I see I see.

    Look, I realize I’m being obviously obnoxious about it, but this wouldn’t be acceptable for automobile infrastructure.

  • Jonathan R

    No, it wouldn’t, which is why Robert Moses carved up Highbridge Park to construct a safe and well-lit highway interchange between I-95, Amsterdam Avenue, and the Harlem River Drive, which is clearly visible from the High Bridge. I would like my park back, but it’s not going to happen any time soon.

    It seems fairly obvious to me that many New Yorkers will choose not to travel by foot or bike on unlit greenways running through parks, out of sight of the street, whether there is an “open” sign on them or not. It also seems obvious to me that with New York’s grid plan, it should be easy to safely integrate bicyclists on streets at all times. This would avoid the kind of second-class treatment that you seem to advocate, where bicyclists are routed behind the bushes on “transportation links” while motor vehicles are allowed untrammeled use of the streets.

    I apologize if this is not what you mean, but it is difficult to penetrate your self-imposed veil of obnoxious naivete to figure out what you are really advocating for.

  • I’m advocating for transportation links that carry pedestrians and cyclists to be treated as first class as any road would be. In the city where I live, we have a trail up the middle of the city which carries over 2000 people per day walking and biking, and yet, it ends up closed with no warning and no detour for construction. And is closed every night at 11 forcing cyclists to use a dangerous, bike lane less, substantially overbuilt parallel road to get home.

    It depends on the context whether its good to integrate pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and drivers all together in one street, but what is not context dependent is whether they are or are not integrated into the same street, or unraveled into different routes, each mode/route must be treated as a first class citizen. Closing some routes at night is a contradiction to this.

  • Jonathan R

    Suggest focusing attention on improving infrastructure first during school travel hours, and then throughout the day. If you ask why many kids don’t walk to school, even though school is within walking distance, and school trips are made during daylight hours, it’s because the sidewalks and crosswalks along the way are evidently dangerous.

    If the multiuse path to which you refer is used by 2000 people a day, why not improve the connections to the path from other destinations in Busytown and help another 2000 people use it safely during daylight hours, instead of making improvements that would only benefit the dozen or so people who need to travel between 11 pm and 6 am? Most first-class citizens are asleep at that time.

  • I use the trail mainly during the day, but if I bike to school, suddenly I feel, gee, I have to leave before dark, or be stuck here. Or, if I need to stay late, I might think, well I should bus or drive instead.

    There are two points to making the trail first class, one is to actually make it work reliably for people. If you can’t reliably use the trail, the you don’t have security in your transportation in changes to your plans. This makes people less willing to use one transportation option, people like choice.

    The other reason is symbolic. If people see walking and biking infrastructure getting equal consideration as vehicular infrastructure, it shows them that those modes are real modes. Its easy for a driver to dismiss biking, when “ha, the fools can’t even bike after dark, its not real transportation”.

    Of course, I have no studies to show that the above two arguments are more important than improving connections to the trail to allow more people to use it. I’d would be curious to see if there are any. But really, I’d recommend doing both, which happily appears to be what our city is planning on doing, obviously this is not always practical.

  • Some Asshole

    This bridge was initially designed to supply water from points north, so it wasn’t designed to be a transportation link for humans in the first place. It can be one now, but it appears this is mostly purposed to be a recreational space.

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