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March 30, 2017

Project to Restore the High Bridge Honored by the International Bridge Conference

Dan Leibel

Long Island City, NY – Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora of the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) announced today that the restoration of the High Bridge that connects the Bronx to Manhattan, a project completed by the DDC in summer 2015, has been selected to receive the Abba G. Lichtenstein Medal at the upcoming International Bridge Conference (IBC) in June.

The Abba G. Lichtenstein Medal recognizes outstanding achievement in bridge engineering demonstrating artistic merit and innovation in the restoration and rehabilitation of bridges of historic or engineering significance. The High Bridge project was previous awarded the prestigious Lucy G. Moses Award by the New York Landmarks Conservancy; the MASterworks Award for Best Neighborhood Catalyst by the Municipal Art Society of New York; and the Diamond Award for Structural Systems by the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York.

“I thank Mayor de Blasio and our partners at the Parks Department for working with us to deliver extraordinary projects to the affected communities in Manhattan and the Bronx,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “This project continues to be a symbol of equity and healthy living in the City, restoring a long-time link between boroughs and encouraging New Yorkers to be active and explore new neighborhoods.”

A view of Manhattan from the Bronx side of the High Bridge
A view of Manhattan from the Bronx side of the High Bridge.

The High Bridge is a nationally landmarked multiple span, steel and stone arch structure which links the Washington Heights neighborhood in Manhattan and the High Bridge neighborhood in the Bronx. It is the oldest surviving bridge in New York City. The High Bridge was first constructed in 1839 and was placed into service in 1848 as part of the Croton Aqueduct that supplied New York City with water.

In restoring the High Bridge, DDC was challenged to balance improvements in the structural integrity of the bridge using new technologies while maintaining the original essence of the bridge as it was for generations of New Yorkers before. To match the traditional tone of the structure, DDC laid red bricks in a classic herringbone pattern and bonded them with natural cement – the same mortar as was originally used in the construction of the bridge. DDC also rebuilt the Manhattan gatehouse with the same techniques that it was built in over 100 years ago.

Red brick being laid
Red brick was laid by hand in the restoration to match the traditional feel while structural upgrades were made

The High Bridge was originally designed in the style of the ancient Roman Aqueducts and prominently features great stone arches. In preserving these arches, DDC not only restored the 91-inch aqueduct piping over the steel span, but also installed LED lights under the bridge to bring the under-arch structure alive at night.

As the only interborough bridge designed exclusively for pedestrians and bicyclists, the restoration of the High Bridge provides both Manhattan and the Bronx with access to more than 125 acres of green space, with baseball fields and basketball courts.

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s lenses of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, new or upgraded roadways, sewers, water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $15 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative, and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to city projects. For more information, please visit