Highbridge Park offers spectacular views of the East River and lower Manhattan. The park’s undergone a major restoration concluding with the reopening of the bridge that connects the city with the Bronx. Explore the community center, take a swim in the pool, or hop on your bike and try the mountain biking trails. Get outside and discover this neighborhood gem!
As the name indicates, Highbridge Park comes with a tall bridge that links Manhattan with the Bronx. The bridge was restored in 2015 after being closed off from the public’s access for more than forty years. There are historical markers all along the bridge that give visitors an insight into its rich past. It stands tall at 116 foot and is New York’s oldest bridge.
The park is located at 2301 Amsterdam Ave. and faces the Harlem River. Mountain biking trails are amongst the park’s main amenities. In fact, the first official mountain biking paths in the city were built here back in 2007. Highbridge also comes with a skate park, a community pool, and tons of green space.
The area used to be the private playground of the city’s elite and many mansions and private estates were built during the 19th century. Around that time, the City of New York used funds towards the completion of a racetrack along the border of the park. The Harlem River Speedway
attracted wealthy residents and investors to Washington Heights and it soon became a popular visitor destination. The hilly landscape also provided many opportunities for the city’s upper crust to practice other outdoor sports in the vicinity. The racetrack was later torn down to give way to what now constitutes as part of the Harlem River Drive Highway.
In 1934, the city’s Department of Parks acquired the Highbridge Tower. A reservoir was previously built on its site in 1866 due to the city’s increasing population rate. John B. Jervis, the designer of the tower, was heavily influenced by Grec and Romanesque styles. After World War I took place, the water tower ceased its operations. It was designated as a New York City landmark in 1967 for its historical and architectural significance. The tower is now open to the public and offers unparalleled views of lower Manhattan.
The Highbridge Play Center attracts many community residents to its Olympic-sized pool. The swimming pool was designed by Robert Moses who found himself inspired by the Art Moderne movement at the time. The center was built on a 7-acre reservoir that used to serve the adjacent water tower.
The park offers guided tours for those who’d like to learn more about it. An Urban Park Ranger will be there to explain the unusual geological makeup of the park’s terrain. The tour will also cover an in-depth explanation of the park’s history including the engineering feats that were made possible in order to transform the rocky land into a family friendly recreational area. You’ll stroll through the park while discovering many of its hidden secrets!
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Edgar is a a film fanatic, a food lover, and an Upper West Side enthusiast. After working in PR and marketing in Chicago, he is pursuing his dream of becoming a writer. He loves photography and on his spare time you can find him hiking or biking the great outdoors (while also snapping some pretty awesome Instagram pics!).