High Bridge Water Tower

In Upper Manhattan, NY.

I didn’t have much information about the subject of this photo until I did a little research on the Web, but it was a part of my life for more than 20 years.

High Bridge Water TowerThe stone tower, which dates back to the 1870s, stands near the top of a hill in upper Manhattan, in area that’s part of Washington Heights. It overlooks the Harlem River and, from its roof, it’s likely that you can see a good part of the Bronx, Queens, the Long Island Sound, and Long Island beyond. Anyone driving on the Cross Bronx Expressway between the George Washington Bridge and either the Throgs Neck or Whitestone Bridges will see it as they leave or enter Manhattan. Nearby is what remains of High Bridge, the oldest bridge in New York.

The tower became part of my life in 1977 when my family moved from New Jersey to Suffolk County in Long Island. Most of the rest of our family lived in New Jersey and we passed the tower each time we went west to visit them. Back in those days, it had a different, less impressive roof. I seem to recall that it wasn’t in the best condition. Then, on one trip, I noticed that the roof was gone. In 1984, vandals set fire to the building and the roof had burned. The stone tower remained.

For years, it stood roofless in the spot. A sad reminder of what upper Manhattan had been and what it had become.

Later, in the late 1980s, I drove by and was pleased to see that a new roof had been put on the building. The building looked wonderful — cleaner (had New York dirt been sandblasted off its stone?) and almost new. It remains in that condition today.

I took this photo in 2004, on a trip to New York to visit some family members, as I was riding as a passenger over the Alexander Hamilton Bridge.

What do you think?