NEW YORK — You might say Luigi Deschamps is a High Bridge regular, making his way back home to Washington Heights from The Bronx. He runs over this historic connector between two boroughs every day.
What You Need To Know
- The High Bridge was completed in 1848
- It was opened as part of the Old Croton Aqueduct System that delivered water to NYC from Westchester's Croton River
- The pedestrian and bikes only bridge reopened to the public in 2015 after being closed for 45 years
- The bridge connects the Highbridge section of The Bronx with Highbridge Park in Washington Heights, Manhattan
"It is a really unique place to run, and a lot of people don't know the history behind this," said Deschamps, who takes pride in knowing many of the details behind this 123-foot high structure.
It was completed in 1848, part of the city's first water supply system, the Croton Aqueduct System, which carried water from the Croton River in Westchester County to Manhattan.
A walkway was completed in 1864, making it a popular spot for New Yorkers and tourists to enjoy the outdoors. As public use declined, it was closed in 1970 for more than four decades, and reopened in 2015 after a more than $60 million restoration project.
I took a walk on what is the oldest standing bridge in the five boroughs from the Bronx side to Manhattan. That’s where I met up with lifelong Washington Heights resident Tony Otero and dog Ghostly, both experiencing their first visit.
"I get a good view, on both ends, Downtown Manhattan, Lower Manhattan, it’s very beautiful during the daytime and nighttime," said Otero.
For some it’s not only about recreation, but a way to get to work or school. Lois Lindsay walks the bridge to work from the Bronx to New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Washington Heights.
"It's better than taking the train because since the COVID I've done a lot of walking and if the bus is too crowded sometime, the train is too crowded sometimes," said Lindsay, who called it a perfect walk of around 45 minutes.
When you get to the Manhattan-side, you can't miss the water tower, which is undergoing its own restoration. That’s where you will also find the massive Highbridge Park Pool, a playground, ballfields and the Washington Heights neighborhood, not to mention a heck of a view.
There are circular medallions along the entire length of the bridge telling its story and more on the system that brought water to a growing city. As another bridge regular put it, it's like running through history.