Mayor Bloomberg's plans for making the city more habitable over the next 25 years include more than just planting a million trees in the next decade. They also involve reopening the High Bridge in Harlem and the McCarren Park Pool, which has lately served as a summer music venue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
The High Bridge, the city’s oldest standing bridge, will get a $65 million face-lift over about two years beginning in 2008, said the parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe.
The pedestrian bridge, which was completed in 1848 to connect Upper Manhattan and the Bronx, was shuttered during the 1960s; officials had deemed it a safety hazard because people had been dropping rocks and other objects from it onto passing boats.
The McCarren Park pool, built in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, in 1936 and closed in 1984, is one of 11 giant swimming pools built in the city as part of the Works Progress Administration. The pool, which could accommodate 6,800 bathers, will be reduced in size by about one third and reopened as an Olympic size pool. The work is budgeted at $50 million, and officials expect it to begin this summer and take a couple of years.
The overall goal of the parks plan is to have a city park within a half mile or ten-minute walk of every city resident by 2030. Skeptics are concerned that without a focus on maintenance, many parks will just become homeless encampments or too overgrown for use.
While the High Bridge isn't scheduled to be reopened until 2010 or 2011, we highly recommend visiting High Bridge Park and climbing the High Bridge Water Tower when it is open to visitors. Already located on one of the highest points in New York City, the 200-foot tower offers incredible views on a clear day. On May 13, geologist Sidney Horenstein from the American Museum of Natural History will be giving an on-the-spot history lesson of the High Bridge and its setting to visitors wearing comfortable shoes.
(View of McCarren Park Pool, by tienmao at flickr; High Bridge, by thelexiphane at flickr)