Connecting People, Strengthening Communities:
The Harlem River Bridges
The Story of New York City's consolidation and growth can be retraced in the history of its bridges. In this exhibition, Duane Bailey-Castro celebrated the little-known bridges of the Harlem River. The Harlem River Bridges are architecturally and historically significant like their East River counterparts, and are vital to the communities they serve.
These photographs invite us to pause, explore, and appreciate the surprising beauty of these engineering marvels and their surrounding landscape. The viewer is encouraged to reflect on the everyday and symbolic importance of these bridges in our society. The construction of these spans helped to bring together the people of the Bronx and Manhattan, cultivating their transformation into New Yorkers. Today, they remain essential to the communities that depend upon them, but are largely overlooked and taken for granted.
Fifteen bridges of various sizes and types span the Harlem River, an eight mile tidal strait between the Bronx and Manhattan. The most famous is NYC's oldest bridge - High Bridge (1848) - which reopened in June 2015 to pedestrians and bicyclists for the first time in 40 years. Other notable spans are the Washington Bridge (1889), NYC's third oldest bridge, which was completed only six years after the Brooklyn Bridge and the Macombs Dam Bridge (1895), the city's oldest swing bridge and for about 90 years has been a popular artery for baseball fans visiting Yankee Stadium.
It is Bailey-Castro's hope that these images of the Harlem River Bridges will encourage New Yorkers to pause and reflect upon the invisibility of these very visible structures in their daily lives, as well as inspire them to be on the lookout for the surprising beauty and rich history all around them.