Getty Images
Getty Images

New York City's High Bridge to Reopen After More Than 40 Years

Getty Images
Getty Images

The New York Times calls the High Bridge "the greatest public work in New York City’s history." Today that feat of 19th century engineering—the oldest existing bridge in the city—will reopen after more than 40 years of disuse.

When it first opened in 1848, the Bridge, which connected 173rd Street in the Bronx to 170th Street in Upper Manhattan, served as the final leg of a 40-mile journey south for clean water from upstate. The bridge was part of the Croton Aqueduct system designed by John Jervis. It relied on gravity and a carefully engineered track that dropped 13.25 inches every mile to transport usable water to Manhattan's upper stretches. From there, the water flowed into two reservoirs that made the 19th century expansion of the city possible.

In 1864, a pedestrian path was added to the beautiful 1,200-foot bridge, which stands 116 feet above the Harlem River and drew New Yorkers and tourists north for day trips and boat rides around what was then the country. When the the aqueduct was closed in 1958, the High Bridge remained opened under the jurisdiction of the city’s Parks Department. That lasted about a decade, until rising crime in neighborhoods on both sides of the bridge drove city officials to close it indefinitely.

About 20 years ago, 10-year-old Maaret Klaber gave a presentation to the local community board’s park committee requesting that the bike path along the Harlem shoreline be reopened. After editorials echoing her cry began appearing in papers around the city, a restoration project was launched. In the decades since, portions of the path have been cleared and reopened at various times. The High Bridge portion has been the most involved.

Three mayoral administrations (and $61.77 million) later, the project is complete, and the only exclusively pedestrian bridge connecting Manhattan to the mainland will open to the public today. To get a sense of what the walk will look like, check out this video shot back in 2009:

To find out more about visiting the High Bridge, click here.

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

This Just In
What Do You Get the Person Who Has Everything? Perhaps a German Village for Less Than $150,000

Looking for a gift for the world traveler who has everything? If cost isn't an issue and they're longing for a quiet country home, Fortune reports that an entire village in East Germany is up for sale. The tiny hamlet of Alwine, in Germany's Brandenburg region, is going up for auction on Saturday, December 9. Opening bids begin at $147,230.

Alwine has around one dozen buildings and 20 full-time residents, most of them elderly. It was once owned by a neighboring coal plant, which shut down in 1991, soon after East Germany reunited with West Germany. Many residents left after that. Between 1990 and 2015, the regional population fell by 15 percent, according to The Local.


In 2000, a private investor purchased the decaying hamlet for just one Deutsche Mark (the currency used before the euro). But its decline continued, and now it's up for grabs once more—this time around, for a much-higher price.

Andreas Claus, the mayor of the district surrounding Alwine, wasn't informed of the village's sale until he heard about it in the news, according to The Local. While no local residents plan to purchase their hometown, Claus says he's open to fostering dialogue with the buyer, with hopes of eventually revitalizing the local community.

[h/t Fortune]


More from mental floss studios