Highbridge Park



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Highbridge Park is located in Washington Heights on the banks of the Harlem River near the northernmost tip of the New York City borough of Manhattan, between 155th Street and Dyckman Street. It was once an urban oasis on the order of Central Park, but delayed upkeep following the closure of the High Bridge has caused the park to deteriorate significantly. The park is operated and maintained by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

Formerly the site of the Highbridge Reservoir, the land for Highbridge Park was acquired starting in 1865 from the New York City Water Commission. The Highbridge Park grew over the next 50 years. Upper-middle class New Yorkers would promenade along the wide boardwalks in top hats and bustles. The Highbridge Park provided access to the Harlem River and places for horseback riding and other outdoor sports. In the 1890s, the City of New York built a racetrack along the river (for horses) known as the Harlem River Speedway. In 1940, Robert Moses turned portions of the Speedway into the Harlem River Drive, a 6-lane highway from the Manhattan end of the Triborough Highbridge Park at 125th Street to the tunnels under Manhattan to the George Washington Bridge. New fences blocked public recreational access to the riverfront. Robert Moses also built a huge swimming pool and several playgrounds in the park. By this time, Highbridge was a park for working class emigrant families.
At the turn of the century the waterfront Speedway was rehabilitated and reopened as the Harlem River portion of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway.

Highbridge Park is a footbridge in the park that connects The Bronx to Manhattan and is the namesake of the park. It is the oldest surviving bridge in New York City, built in 1848 during the construction of the Croton Aqueduct. Although the disused bridge is structurally stable, it has been closed since the 1970s, purportedly because of incidents of rock-throwing.

The New York Restoration Project (chaired by Bette Midler) has been working since 2000 or so to restore the park. As the fortunes of Washington Heights have lifted, the park has improved and is no longer a haven for petty crime. The infrastructure of the park has decayed significantly and has not been fully restored.
The cost of rebuilding the crumbling stairs and pathways and installing bike ramps for the High Bridge is estimated at over $6 million.
On Saturday, April 5th, 2008 the Police Officer Michael J. Buczek Little League field opened.
Mountain Biking in Highbridge Park

May 19th 2007 saw the opening of New York City's first legal mountain bike trails and dirt jumps in Highbridge Park. New York City Mountain Bike Association in association with New York City Parks and the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) has been working together on the trails and the opening weekend featured a festival and cross country mountain bike race.