West Burnside Avenue Bridge/Siphon

West Burnside Avenue Bridge in the 1920s, Prior to Replacement with Siphon


Structure/Property Name (Current and Original, if Different):  West Burnside Avenue Bridge/Siphon

Street Address/Location:  West Burnside Avenue between University Ave. and Harrison Ave.

Town/City:  Bronx

County:  Bronx

Owner: NYC Parks


Architect/Engineer/Other Responsible Parties:  John B. Jervis, Chief Engineer; specific structure engineer unknown

Historic Use:  To carry the Old Croton Aqueduct at grade over West Burnside Avenue. 

Present Use:  When converted to a siphon, intended to carry the aqueduct under West Burnside Avenue.

Typology:  Bridge/Siphon

Architectural Style:  Classical

Period(s) of Construction:  completed ca. 1842

Date of Decommissioning: 1955 (with closing of Old Croton)    

Date(s) of Demolition:  Bridge demolished late 1930s or 1940s.

Structural System/Materials:  Bridge:  Granite masonry bridge supporting brick and cast iron aqueduct; Siphon: metal pipe.

Significant Alterations:  Bridge torn down to accommodate street widening, replaced with inverted siphon in the late 1930s or 1940s.

Brief Architectural Description: Built as a component of the Old Croton system, this feature originally took the form of a three-arched bridge spanning a country road.  The bridge typology was similar to those found in other parts of the system:  a central 30-foot-wide arch for vehicles was flanked on either side by smaller arches for pedestrian traffic.  Based on atlas research, it would appear that the bridge remained in place at least until the mid-1930s, but it was replaced some time shortly thereafter by an inverted siphon running underneath the road.  The bridge was demolished and West Burnside Avenue was widened in the process.

Brief Statement of Historic Significance:  The original name of the structure is lost, and it does not appear to have been mentioned in many early documents related to the Aqueduct.  However, the road running below the bridge was not originally called West Burnside Avenue–it was renamed after a prominent General following the Civil War–so it may go by other names in these early documents. 


Accessibility to Public:  The site of the siphon is accessible to the public, although a fence prevents more direct access.

Landmark Status:  No

Threats:  The remaining masonry foundations of the bridge are in somewhat poor condition.

Current Interpretation: Potential plans to rebuild as a “GreenBridge” (see below)


A story appeared in the September 2008 Mount Hope Monitor stating that Community Board 5 district manager Xavier Rodriquez intended to rebuild  the West Burnside Avenue Bridge as  a “GreenBridge” project that would make the path along the top of the aqueduct more continuous and promote “green space and healthy living.”  The story claims that Rodriquez had a team of students at City College working on a proposal for GreenBridge, but as of this writing (2/28/2011) there are no signs that  any progress has  been made on this project.



G.W. Bromley.  “Part of Ward 24.” [Atlas] (New York: G.W. Bromley & Co., 1879.

F.B. Tower.  Images of Croton Aquedut by F.B. Tower of the Engieer Department.  New York and London:  Wiley and Putnam, 1843.

Charles King.  A Memoir of the Construction, Cost and Capacity of the Croton Aqueduct.  New York:  Charles B. King, 1843.

James Fergusson.  “Bridge May be Built over Burnside.”   Mount Hope Monitor.  September 2008.  http://www.mounthopemonitor.org/?m=200809 .  Accessed 2/11/2011.


Jørgen G. Cleemann


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s