This neighborhood takes its name from a monumental crossing of the Harlem River at 173rd Street, the oldest New York City bridge still standing. In 1838, planners debated how the aqueduct bringing water from the Croton Reservoir would cross the Harlem to Manhattan. The alternatives: a pipe set on an embankment just above water level, and one on Roman arches of stone 180 feet above the water's surface. The more difficult but more splendid "high bridge" having been chosen, it took until 1848 for laborers, many of them Irish immigrants housed at the site, to complete what was at the time the longest and highest stone arch bridge in the United States.
The laborers' settlement, "Highbridgeville", was succeeded later in the century by a resort supplied with visitors by steamboats from downtown New York. It was not until after 1918, when north-reaching subway lines arrived in the area, that dense residential development began. In the 50's housing projects were introduced, while the Cross-Bronx Expressway, bridging the Harlem just north of Highbridge, cut a new boundary line for the neighborhood.
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