New York City’s oldest bridge, The High Bridge, recently reopened this month as a public space after decades of abandonment, thanks to immense local support. According to the New York Times, the historic crossing, which spans the Harlem River, has been renovated and converted into a family-friendly bike trail, providing access to the Highbridge Pool and Play Center in Manhattan.

The High Bridge

The High Bridge, which dates back to 1867, was the final link in an aqueduct bridge that carried pure water from Upstate NY into Manhattan. Spanning the Harlem River and supported by Romanesque stone arches, the structure crosses from 173rd Street in Manhattan to 170th Street in the Bronx.

Related: Parsons Designs New Community Center and Splash House for Highbridge Pool

The bridge stopped carrying water in the mid-1950s and subsequently, its walkway was also closed to the public. However, despite years of neglect and overgrowth, the bridge’s original structure remained in surprisingly good condition over the years. “The quality of the work is phenomenal,” said Ellen Macnow, a parks department official who has worked on the bridge’s renovation project. “We had inspections before the work began, and found mortar that had crumbled, but the stones hadn’t moved. It was truly overengineered. It is so strong.”

The newly reopened bridge will now serve the community as an elevated bike path. Most of the revitalization work was done by local activists in the Bronx and Manhattan as well as parks officials. Of course, getting the $60.8 million project off the ground took some patience, spanning three mayoral administrations on its way to completion.

Just in time for summer, a public swimming pool will open at Highbridge Park at the end of June and the historic bridge trail will allow children and families to walk or ride across the bridge from the Bronx.

Via NY Times

+ Highbridge Park