Highbridge Park
GOOD FOR: Ages 5-8
RATING:


Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:Dyckman Street and Nagle Avenue, Manhattan, NY
Hours:Dawn to dusk daily
Fee: Free
Contact:

nycgovparks.org/parks/highbridgepark or call 311; for the pool call 212-927-2400
 

Bathrooms: None
Water/Snacks: Water fountains at playgrounds (between 190th and 188th streets; at 157th Street)
Map:

Highbridge Park features the only mountain-biking trails in Manhattan.

Highbridge Park.
Photo by: Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert

The far reaches of Highbridge Park—so named after High Bridge, the city’s longest-standing span and bygone aqueduct—are as isolated and rustic as anything you will find in New York City’s parks. Many of the park’s 119 acres feature wooded escarpments crisscrossed by paved paths and trails that are gaining fame as the only place to mountain bike in the city. From its upper heights, the park offers spectacular views of the Harlem River. You can swim at the Highbridge Recreation Center and Pool, a popular destination among locals.

Enter the park near the intersection of 10th Avenue, Dyckman Street, and the Harlem River Drive, and enjoy a rigorous walk up the paved path to your left. The elevation reaches 150 feet. Turn around and return the way you came. Rugged bike paths also run parallel to the paved route.

Six playgrounds are in the park, two along Amsterdam Avenue at 180th and 189th streets, two along Edgecombe Avenue at 164th and 167th streets, another at the pool complex, and one at Fort George and Saint Nicholas avenues.

During a visit to Highbridge, you are likely to see volunteer groups clearing underbrush and fixing paths—or field biologists from the City University of New York who are there to study evolution. They view this park and others as living laboratories where they can research how urban geography impacts development and the selection of characteristics among our neighbors in the insect and animal worlds.

In its heyday, the park was as fashionable as Central and Prospect parks are today. The New York Restoration Project now describes it as “largely undiscovered” although efforts to revitalize it are changing that. Droves of visitors were once drawn to its boardwalk, a horse racetrack, and other outdoor sports venues. Urban planner Robert Moses (see page xxiv) turned parts of the racetrack into Harlem River Drive. He also developed the recreation center and pool.

Remember: Many parts of Highbridge Park are too steep for strollers, and might be challenging for younger children on bicycles or scooters. Also, if you plan to swim, be aware of city park pool rules.

Plan B:

Swindler Cove Park (Trip 13) is across Harlem River Drive, offering a respite among well-manicured gardens and lawns.



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