One of the best ways to see the amazing Manhattan skyline is from the window of a yellow cab as it crosses the Brooklyn Bridge. It is extraordinary to see how many bridges connect the island of Manhattan to the other neighborhoods of New York. It is said that there are more than two thousand bridges in New York alone, so it is a must to see at least a few during your stay. In this article we will introduce you to some of the most famous and beautiful bridges in New York and we will tell you something about its history and its environment. We will also provide you with practical tips for when you make your must-see visit to these bridges.
So without further ado: Here is our list of the 5 best bridges in New York!
The Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is probably the most famous bridge in New York and is also one of the most popular tourist sites. The Brooklyn Bridge was built in 1883 and was the first bridge to connect Manhattan and Brooklyn across the East River, even though Brooklyn was an independent city. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. At the time of its opening it was also the longest suspension bridge in the world. In fact, it was so long that people doubted its strength. To prove the bridge was safe, a circus promoter led a herd of 21 elephants across the Brooklyn Bridge!
Today, the Brooklyn Bridge is considered one of the engineering achievements of the 19th century. Its handsome brick towers and gothic arcades have been the subject of many photographs and have even been featured in films such as The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and I Am Legend.
While visiting New York, be sure to visit the Brooklyn Bridge. The best way to experience it is to take the subway to York Station (F line) in Brooklyn. From where you can easily walk the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian walkway and stroll into Manhattan for the best views. Be sure to bring a camera or smartphone as you’ll want to take photos of the magnificent Manhattan skyline (especially amazing just before sunset), the Hudson River, the Statue of Liberty and of course the Brooklyn Bridge itself. As you pass through the arches of the bridge, you will have the option to photograph the spider web pattern of the bridge’s steel cables. You can also carry a padlock as a symbol of love and put it on the bridge as many other lovers have done before. But watch out for cyclists:
To find out what it’s like to cross the Brooklyn Bridge be sure to check out our DUMBO video tour. DUMBO is a neighborhood in Brooklyn that is located right between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge.
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The Manhattan Bridge
The Manhattan Bridge is a somewhat more modern suspension bridge, as it was built in 1909. It was the last of three bridges to be built over the lower East River, the second being the Williamsburg Bridge. The Manhattan entrance to the Manhattan Bridge is in Chinatown and is marked by a grand triumphal arch and colonnade. At the end of Brooklyn, the Manhattan Bridge ends in the popular DUMBO neighborhood, which is an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.
The Manhattan Bridge has a pedestrian sidewalk as well as a bike lane, making it easy to walk or cycle across the bridge. You’ll get a great view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline from here, plus you can see the Statue of Liberty in the background. However, unlike the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge includes subway tracks. Which means crossing the bridge on foot or by bike can be very noisy. You can also choose to cross the bridge by taking any of the following lines: B, D, N or Q. If you take the B or Q line towards Manhattan, you can also see an art installation called Masstransiscope, created by Bill Brand, in the abandoned Myrtle Avenue Station. You can see the zoetrope to the right of the train just as you exit the Dekalb stop.
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is the only bridge on the list that does not connect to Manhattan. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connects the Fort Hamilton neighborhood in Brooklyn with the New York borough of Staten Island and is known as the starting point for the New York Marathon. The bridge is named in honor of Giovanni da Verrazzano, the first European to enter New York Harbor, and in honor of the Narrows, the body of water that the bridge crosses. New York Bay and Upper Bay are to the north of the Narrows, and Lower Bay and the North Atlantic Ocean are to the south.
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opened in 1964 and the upper level was added in 1969 making it a double deck suspension bridge. The span of the bridge is 1,298 meters long, which means that it is larger than the Golden Gate in San Francisco. In fact, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge has the longest span in all of America. Unfortunately, the bridge does not have a path for pedestrians or bicycles (yet). You can enjoy the views from a car or take a bus across the bridge (S53, S79 or S93). There are many express buses from Manhattan that cross the bridge.
The Queensboro Bridge
The Queensboro Bridge is the longest on the list that crosses the East River. It is located further north than the previous three bridges and connects the Upper East Side of Manhattan to Long Island in Queens. It also goes through Roosevelt Island. The bridge’s official name is the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, but it is also called the 59th Street Bridge because of where it begins in Manhattan.
The cantilever bridge was built in 1909 and has multiple lanes, a pedestrian walkway, and a bike path. In addition, there is a cable car that runs from the northern part of the bridge and takes passengers from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island. You may recognize it from the 2002 movie Spiderman, as the cable car played a major role in the film’s climax. The Roosevelt Island Cable Car is popular with tourists and a nice way to get to Roosevelt Island. From both the cable car and the island, you’ll have magnificent views of the Midtown Manhattan skyline.
The George Washington Bridge
The last bridge on our list is located in the western part of Manhattan and connects New York with New Jersey: The George Washington Bridge This suspension bridge crosses the Hudson River and is 1,450 meters long. It begins in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan and ends in the New Jersey neighborhood of Fort Lee. The George Washington Bridge opened in 1931. This graceful suspension bridge is home to 14 lanes and features a separate bike path and pedestrian sidewalk. From the pedestrian zone of the bridge you will see the wonderful views of Manhattan, New Jersey and the Hudson River.
Other bridges: The Bow Bridge in Central Park and the Williamsburg Bridge
The Bow Bridge
We couldn’t finish the list without mentioning at least The Bow Bridge in Central Park and the Williamsburg Bridge over the East River.
The Bow Bridge is a beautiful cast iron bridge from 1862 and is intricately designed with beautiful decorations. The bridge’s walkway was built from tabebuia wood and turns a gorgeous red when wet. The Bow Bridge has been featured in many movies such as Manhattan, The Way We Were, and More Than Friends. It is also a very popular marriage proposal site for couples. You can find the Bow Bridge to the west of the Loeb Central Park Boathouse right next to The Lake.
The Williamsburg Bridge
The Williamsburg Bridge is the second suspension bridge to be built over the East River. It is located just north of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge and connects with the Lower East Side of Manhattan to the trendy Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. Built in 1903, the total length of this industrial-style bridge is 2,227 meters. Due to its length, it is best to cross the bridge by bicycle. If you go by bike you can see all the graffiti that is still visible on the bridge. Of course, you’ll also see a beautiful view of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
And with this we close the list of the 5 best bridges in New York. What is your favorite bridge in New York?