High Bridge Tower, Along the Harlem, New York, 1872

4a12620rHigh Bridge Tower stands in High Bridge Park on the Manhattan side of the Harlem River east of East 174th Street.

The High Bridge Tower was the first tower of its kind to be built in NY and is currently the only remaining water tower. When it opened in 1872, Harlemites viewed it as one of the most spectacular structures from which to gain views of the city and surrounding area. It was a site that people made trips out of and was marketed as such.  It was constructed in order to provide water pressure to the recently-developed higher elevations of Northern Manhattan, which could not be serviced by the existing gravity-fed system.

The octagonal High Bridge Tower consists of a base, a simple but high shaft, a louvered belfry, with conical roof surmounted by a lantern, spire and weather-vane. The rough cut stone base resting on a low footing is separated from the shaft by a shouldering of smooth faced stone making the transition from base of the tower to the shaft. The arched doorway is crowned by a massive horseshoe arch with heavy voussoirs carried on corbels at each side. It is a striking feature of the tower. Windows in the tower have handsome round arched drip moldings. The belfry contains a series of narrow round-arches louvered opening supported on large corbels. The conical roof above them likewise has a corbelled cornice.


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Harlem Cultural Archives is a donor and foundation-supported Historical Society, Its mission is to create, maintain and grow a remotely accessible, online, interactive repository of audio-visual materials documenting Harlem’s remarkable and varied multicultural legacies, including its storied past as well as its continuing contributions to the City and State of New York, the nation, and the world. Support Harlem Cultural Archives and click here to get more Harlem History, Thank you.


  1. Great shot of the Water Tower. I’m sure all will be excited this next summer when the redevelopment of the High Bridge is completed and we can once again cross the Harlem River afoot without the interruption of cars and trucks. I remember it well from when I was very young. Keep track of all the developments at the High Bridge at highbridgeparkdevelopment.blogspot.com

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