NYC Parks Hosts High Bridge Festival
On Saturday, July 25, 2015, NYC Parks joined Comptroller Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilmembers Ydanis Rodriguez, Mark Levine and Vanessa L. Gibson, Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner, State Senator Adriano Espaillat and community members to kick off the High Bridge Festival.
In collaboration with more than a dozen community groups, the festival continued the celebration of the revival of the iconic High Bridge since its closure in 1970. After its grand reopening on June 9, the High Bridge has again become one of the city's biggest attractions.
The High Bridge Festival included a public art instillation, walking tours of the bridge, a "Bridge Making Workshop" presented by the Bronx Children's Museum, and live entertainment, including a performance by Jose Peña Suazo y La Banda Gorda.
Opened in 1848, the High Bridge is the oldest standing bridge in New York City and was a part of the city's first water supply system. After being closed for more than four decades, NYC Parks and DDC restored and improved the 1,450-foot-long, 123-foot high bridge. As the only interborough bridge designed exclusively for pedestrians and bicyclists, the restoration of the High Bridge provides communities of both Manhattan and the Bronx with access to more than 125 acres of green space with baseball fields, basketball courts, bike trails, a skatepark, playgrounds and lawns.
The High Bridge restores a unique connection between two boroughs and provides communities with access to resources in both counties. Bronx residents are now able to walk directly to the Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center, while Manhattan residents will gain access to the Harlem River waterfront. The improved design will also allow pedestrians to enjoy new features including a hand-restored brick walkway, restored historic railing, new safety fence, barrier-free access, and new architectural lighting.
"After years of devotion, dedication and patience, Bronx and Manhattan community members can once again enjoy the historical beauty that is the High Bridge," said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. "The symbolism here is that there is no longer a divide between the two boroughs, now there is open accessibility to all of the resources in this amazing space."
"The High Bridge Festival is a great way to celebrate the reopening of such a historic piece of infrastructure that connects both our boroughs," said Bronx President Ruben Diaz Jr. "This is one of the oldest bridges in New York City and it's located right in our backyard. Seeing such a wonderful landmark in use again is great for both communities located by the bridge that will also attract tourists. Downtown has the Highline, but here in The Bronx we have the High Bridge."
"The High Bridge is like the eighth wonder of the world, so it's thrilling to finally be able to hold community events in this one-of-a-kind public space," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "This beautiful structure offers the neighborhoods on both sides of the Harlem River green space, recreational facilities, and amazing views. A festival is the right way to celebrate its reopening."
"The restoration of the High Bridge has provided residents of the Bronx and Manhattan with an extraordinary opportunity to get to know their neighbors and has provided both boroughs with unprecedented access to the beautiful greenspace that lines the Harlem River," said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson. "This project is a culmination of the tireless work of numerous community stakeholders, all of whom were dedicated to bringing the people of the South Bronx beautiful outdoor space of their very own. I thank Mayor Bill de Blasio, Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for partnering on this important project and hope that all New York City residents will have an opportunity to enjoy this beautiful Highbridge."
"The High Bridge's reintroduction into the hearts of so many families in the Bronx and Manhattan this summer has been a welcomed boost to our community. Having New York City's oldest standing bridge back to its original luster will have a significant impact on the surrounding communities and their families," said Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner. "The bridge's grandeur, its link to our history and its passage into the future will be enjoyed by all whom cross it, whether it be by bike or their own two feet. I commend New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and its effort to restore the High Bridge back its rightful place as one of New York's major attractions. I personally look forward to attending the High Bridge Festival at High Bridge Park and crossing the Harlem River with my own two feet for years to come."
"The historic High Bridge has already become a significant tourist attraction in New York City," said State Senator Jose M. Serrano. "The High Bridge festival will only further that reputation by bringing even more attention to this significant artistic and architectural achievement. This festival is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the rich history of The Bronx and Upper Manhattan in a fun and positive way."
"The restored High Bridge is a grand connection between two great neighborhoods and boroughs," said State Senator Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan/Bronx). "Now generations to come will be able to enjoy this engineering feat as generations before us have."
The festival was supported by ZTE, FreshDirect, FlatRate Moving, Kung Fu Panda 3, Emblem Health, and Columbia University Medical Center.
To learn more about the High Bridge visit http://www.nycgovparks.org/park-features/highbridge-park/planyc.