All About The Manhattan Bridge
Along with the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in New York. Built at the start of the 20th century, this bridge, over 2 km long, spans the East River and links the Manhattan Island and the Brooklyn neighborhood.
In this little post, you can discover the history of this bridge, as well as some tips that will help you if you want to cross the Manhattan Bridge during your stay in New York, and admire one of the most beautiful views of the city.
The History Of The Manhattan Bridge
Construction of the Manhattan Bridge began in 1901, but it was not opened to the public until 1909. Following a fire shortly after opening, the bridge was not officially completed until 1912. it is one of the oldest bridges in the city, it is also the newest of the 3 bridges that cross the East River – the Brooklyn Bridge having been put into service in 1883, and the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903. Originally, this bridge was therefore simply to be called “Bridge Number 3”, but it was quickly renamed Manhattan Bridge, although its two predecessors also provide access to the island of Manhattan.
It was Léon Moisseiff, an American civil engineer of Latvian origin, who was one of the main designers of the Manhattan Bridge. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the Manhattan Bridge served as a model for the design of many other suspension bridges located in the United States and around the world, starting with the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the George Washington Bridge, another New York bridge crossing the Hudson in New York City.
There are two different levels of traffic on the Manhattan Bridge. On the upper level, four lanes are provided for vehicle traffic, two for each direction. The lower level also includes 3 lanes for vehicles, but also a pedestrian lane and 4 train lanes for New York City Subway traffic.
Over the years, a lot of work has been done to modernize and maintain this bridge, which is more than a century old.
Some Numbers On One Of New York’s Most Iconic Bridges
The Manhattan Bridge is even longer and more imposing than the Brooklyn Bridge. In total, it spans 2,090 meters, rises 41 meters above the East River and reaches 102 meters in height at its pylons. It is almost 37 meters wide, and its main span is 450 meters long. Every day, nearly 90,000 vehicles cross the Manhattan Bridge.
This suspension bridge is held by 4 huge cables which descend from the pylons and help to support the whole. On each side, these cables are anchored in the stone at the level of large pedestrian zones.
Cross The Manhattan Bridge
Impossible not to notice the Manhattan Bridge during a trip to New York. However, it is often the Brooklyn Bridge that holds all the attention. This bridge is best known historically, and is often used as a New York City landmark in television and film. People come from all over the world to visit New York, and many tourists pass through the Dumbo neighborhood in Brooklyn, mainly to admire the Brooklyn Bridge.
However, not taking the time to discover the Manhattan Bridge would, in my opinion, be a real mistake. It is enough to cross it once by subway to realize the absolutely incredible view it offers on the East River and on the Skyline of Manhattan.
Do you really only have eyes for the Brooklyn Bridge? It is true that you can also enjoy great views from it. If you want to observe the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building in particular, the Brooklyn Bridge is probably the ideal place. However, you should know that there is one major monument that you won’t be able to see well from this bridge… it’s obviously the Brooklyn Bridge itself!
Conversely, from the Manhattan Bridge, you can see the skyscrapers of New York and lower Manhattan, while enjoying a breathtaking view of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Take A Walk On The Manhattan Bridge
But the best way to cross the Manhattan Bridge is on foot. The pedestrian alley is located on the lower level, on the same level as the subways. This crossing can therefore be quite noisy at times, but the upper level of the bridge being narrower, the crossing on this pedestrian footbridge is still done in the open air.
Thanks to the security barriers and grids, this driveway is perfectly secure, but you can still take photos easily, without being bothered by all these protections.
To make the most of your walk on the Manhattan Bridge, the best time will be either in the morning or in the evening, at sunset or after dark. It is in the morning that the light will be the best so that you can admire a superb view and take very beautiful shots.
In the evening, before sunset, the sun illuminates the buildings of the business district, and when night falls, all of New York lights up. By crossing the Manhattan Bridge at night, you can enjoy a totally different and equally dazzling experience
What To See At The Manhattan Bridge?
So why is it so interesting to cross the Manhattan Bridge on foot? Quite simply because you will have the opportunity to admire one of the prettiest views of New York City. By metro or by car, you can already be amazed, but on foot, you will have all the time you want to admire this unique urban setting and take beautiful photos.
The Manhattan Bridge pedestrian lane is one of the best places to admire the Manhattan Skyline, a true symbol of the American Dream. Often, during a first stay in New York, tourists spend most of their time in the Manhattan district – and one of the best reasons to move away from it is precisely to be able to admire Manhattan, and more particularly the Financial District, in all its grandeur from another point of view.
Unlike the Brooklyn Bridge, on the Manhattan Bridge, no steel wire will obstruct your view. The One World Trade Center, the Central Park Tower, the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building … You will be able to see many of the most famous buildings in New York, and discover a beautiful overview of the South Street Seaport and Chinatown.
As Brooklyn Bridge sits right between Manhattan Bridge and the Financial District, Manhattan Bridge is the perfect place to take a snapshot of the entirety of the Brooklyn Bridge, with the New York Skyline as a backdrop.
Looking towards the other side of the bridge, you will have the opportunity to see the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn in particular, as well as Main Street Park and the Empire Fulton Ferry Park.
How To Get To The Manhattan Bridge?
To go over the Manhattan Bridge, you can go to the Dumbo district from Brooklyn, or to the Chinatown district from Manhattan. The best way to enjoy your crossing of the bridge is from Brooklyn, since you will be facing the Manhattan line of skyscrapers.
I therefore advise you rather to take the metro to cross the bridge for the first time and reach Brooklyn, then to walk back, to make the most of the view offered
For example, you can take the subway on the F line and get off at York Street station, which is a few steps from the stairs that will take you to the pedestrian walkway of the Manhattan Bridge. Access to the bridge is completely free.
Explore Manhattan Bridge From Washington Street
As you will have understood, I therefore clearly advise you to visit the Manhattan Bridge during your trip to New York, to have the chance to admire some magnificent views of the Big Apple. But the beauty of the Manhattan Bridge itself should not be underestimated, and if you want to admire this bridge in all its splendor, the most appropriate place is undoubtedly Washington Street, in the Dumbo district..
It is from this street that you can discover one of the most famous views of New York (and probably one of the most photographed places in the world). This view was immortalized on the poster of Once Upon a Time in America, Sergio Leone’s cult film.
From the upper part of the street, between Water Street and Front Street, you can experience this incredible view with the imposing Washington Street and the Empire State Building in the background, just at the level of the arch formed by the bridge pier.