Posts Tagged ‘Harlem River’

A view of New York’s oldest and loveliest bridge

October 9, 2017

The Brooklyn Bridge is a beauty, yes, but for architectural grace and historical enchantment (and as a place for long late-night walks, as Edgar Allan Poe discovered), you just can’t beat High Bridge—the 1848 span built to bring city residents fresh water from the Croton Reservoir upstate.

Standing 84 feet above the Harlem River, the High Bridge’s 15 arches were an elegant sight for people on ships below or on the Bronx or Manhattan side above.

A pedestrian walkway was added in the 1860s—and it’s open again after being closed to the public for 40 years.

Two enchanting views of New York’s High Bridge

August 8, 2016

It’s New York’s oldest bridge—a Roman-inspired graceful span completed in 1848 as a crucial link of the Croton Aqueduct, the engineering marvel that brought fresh upstate water to city spigots.


At 140 feet above the breezy Harlem River, it was (and is—it’s now open to the public) a favorite place for strollers as well as artists.

Ernest Lawson was one of those artists. “High Bridge—Early Moon” (above) from 910 “dates from Lawson’s early period . . . when he lived for a time in Washington Heights, at the northern tip of Manhattan,” states the website for the Phillips Collection, which owns the painting.


“Having left the area in 1906 when he moved to Greenwich Village, the artist often returned to paint his favorite sites until about 1916.”

“High Bridge—Early Moon” looks toward the Bronx side of the bridge. In the more somber “High Bridge, Harlem River,” Lawson looks toward Upper Manhattan, the site of the circa-1872 High Bridge Water Tower.

TheGildedAgeinNewYorkcover“The motif of the bridge . . . takes on added significance in American art as a symbol of movement and change. As cities grew, bridges were often among the first structures built, their spare designs helping to transform the face of the American landscape from rural to urban.” continues the Phillips Collection caption.

“Lawson’s carefully observed paintings documenting this change conveyed his delight in commonplace views and objects—an old boat, a frail tree, grasses growing along the river’s edge.”

Read more about the High Bridge and how the bridge and the riverfront below it became a favorite recreation area in the late 19th century in The Gilded Age in New York, 1870-1910.

“Spring Night, Harlem River”

August 1, 2011

In 1899, Ernest Lawson, a member of “The Eight” along with John Sloan, Everett Shinn, and other New York City painters, moved to Upper Manhattan.

Which is why his work often depicts the landscape of today’s Washington Heights and Inwood. In this 1913 painting, he gives the Washington Bridge linking Manhattan and the Bronx at 181st Street a dramatic and romantic moonlit glow.

Where exactly Is Marble Hill?

February 11, 2010

Geographically, this little neighborhood—which supplied the city with prime Inwood marble used to construct many landmark buildings—is connected to mainland United States.

You’d think it was in the Bronx. But it’s officially part of Manhattan.

This map weirdness happened when the city enlarged the Harlem River ship channel in 1895. That turned Marble Hill—then at the northernmost tip of Manhattan, separated from the Bronx by Spuyten Duyvil Creek—into an island, with the Harlem River on its north and the creek to the south.

[A 1916 NYPL map of Upper Manhattan; Marble Hill a bump at the top]

In 1914, the creek was filled in, cleaving Marble Hill to the Bronx, though it was declared Manhattan territory in 1897.

Over the years, which borough it belonged to was brought into question. In 1939, the Bronx borough president planted a Bronx flag at Marble Hill and demanded that all residents submit to Bronx rule—a really bad joke met with resounding boos by dozens of Marble Hill residents.

In 1984, it was settled: the neighborhood is in Manhattan—albeit with a 718 area code, a Bronx zip code, and kind of a split identity.