By Gregg McQueen
For the first time in more than a decade, members of the public will be able to tour the historic Highbridge Water Tower in Washington Heights – including the opportunity to climb its 179 stairs to the top of the stone structure for panoramic views of the area.
Overlooking the Harlem River on the edge of Highbridge Park, the tower was once used to provide water pressure to Northern Manhattan and is considered a New York City Historic Landmark.
On October 27, city officials held a ribbon-cutting to mark the end of an extensive renovation effort to restore the structure and make it safer for public access.
Starting November 21, the NYC Parks Urban Park Rangers will lead free tours inside the 200-foot tower, which was completed in 1872.
“The Highbridge Water Tower connects us to our city’s history and serves as a beacon for the Washington Heights community — and thanks to this project, the historic structure will be preserved for generations to come,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff. “Through educational tours with our Urban Park Rangers, New Yorkers will now be able to climb the tower’s winding stairway once again and experience the panoramic views from the top. We are thrilled to unveil the renovated tower as part of our ongoing revitalization of Highbridge Park.”
The $5 million renovation project rehabilitated the stone tower, preserving the landmark. Necessary repairs were made to the tower’s roof, masonry, wooden handrails, flooring and cast-iron staircase, NYC Parks said. New windows, window guards and interior lighting were also installed.
Funded by $3.6 million from Mayor Bill de Blasio and $1.4 million from City Councilmember Ydanis Rodríguez, the renovations began in September 2019.
During public tours, visitors will be able to climb 179 stairs to the top of the tower to enjoy sweeping views of Northern Manhattan.