When I first came across Highbridge Park (shortly after moving to Washington Heights) all I could think was: "how did this happen?" Here was an urban oasis on the order of central park in ruins. I started to do some research.
Basically Highbridge park has fallen off of the radar of new york city for nearly 30 years. This is strange considering it is
2. a park
3. in Manhattan
A search of google for Highbridge Park returns the New York Restoration Project who has been working over the past few years (since 200 or so) to restore the park. When they first started it was filled with dumped cars and was a haven for prostitutes and drug dealers. Much of the trash has been removed, but the twisted lamp posts the cracked steps and graffiti (which covers every stone or concrete surface in sight) speak of what the park has been through.
Walking through the park fills me with a sense of despair—It’s like we’ve forgotten what a city is supposed to be. It’s evident that the city of new york simply gave up on this part of the city for many years.
There is a foot bridge (pedestrians only) in the park that connects the Bronx to Manhattan. It’s called the Highbridge and is the namesake of the park—it’s the oldest bridge in new york city. It was closed in the 70s because a boy threw a rock off of it and hit a tourist—There is nothing wrong with it structurally—the city was just unwilling to deal with the crime problems in the park so they basically fenced it off —much of the park remains fenced off even today.
I guess I’m writing this because I wonder of anyone has felt this way when encountering urban blight —there is something romantically post-apocalyptic about it—and something devastating and frightening. I can’t find much information on how or why the park fell in to disrepair—how or why the neighborhoods changed—
If you have any links please help.