One of the best ways to first see the magnificent skyline of Manhattan is from the window of a yellow taxicab as it crosses the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s remarkable to see how many bridges connect the island of Manhattan to other New York City boroughs. It is said there are over two thousand bridges in the city of New York alone, so you’re bound to see at least some of these while you’re visiting. In this article we’ll introduce you to some of the most famous and beautiful bridges of New York, and tell you something about the history and background of these bridges. We’ll also give you some practical visiting tips on these must-see bridges.

So without further ado: here are our top 5 bridges in New York City!

1. Brooklyn Bridge

View of the Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan The Brooklyn Bridge with the Lower Manhattan skyline

The Brooklyn Bridge is probably the most famous bridge of New York City, and also one of its most popular landmarks. The Brooklyn Bridge was built in 1883, and was the first bridge to provide passage across the East River between Brooklyn and Manhattan, back when Brooklyn was still an independent city. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspending bridges in the US. At the time of its unveiling it was also the longest suspension bridge in the world. In fact, it was so long that people doubted its strength. In order to prove the bridge was safe, a circus promoter led a herd of 21 elephants across the Brooklyn Bridge!

Nowadays, the Brooklyn Bridge is perceived as one of the great engineering accomplishments of the 19th century. Its beautiful brick towers and Gothic arches have been the subjects of many photographs and have even featured in such movies as The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and I Am Legend.

While in New York, be sure to pay a visit to the Brooklyn Bridge. The best way to experience it is to take the subway to York Station (the F line) in Brooklyn. From here you can easily walk to the Brooklyn Bridge’s pedestrian walkway and stroll toward Manhattan for the best views. Be sure to bring a camera or smartphone, as you’ll want to take pictures of the magnificent Manhattan skyline (especially stunning just before sunset), the Hudson River, the Statue of Liberty and of course the Brooklyn Bridge itself. When you walk up to the bridge’s arches you’ll have a great photo op of the web-like pattern of the bridge’s many steel cables. You can also bring a love lock to attach to the bridge like many lovers have done before. Do watch out for the cyclists though: the pedestrian path and bicycle path are only marked by a white line, so be sure not to stray onto the wrong lane.

To see what it’s like to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, have a look at our video tour of DUMBO. DUMBO is the Brooklyn neighborhood that is located right between the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge.

2. Manhattan Bridge

Picture of the Manhattan Bridge taken from DUMBO, Brooklyn The Manhattan Bridge seen from DUMBO in Brooklyn

The Manhattan Bridge is a somewhat more modern suspension bridge, as it was constructed in 1909. It was the last of the three bridges built over the lower East River, the second one being the Williamsburg Bridge. The Manhattan entrance to the Manhattan Bridge lies in Chinatown, and is marked by a magnificent triumphal arch and colonnade. On the Brooklyn end, the Manhattan Bridge ends in the popular neighborhood DUMBO, which is an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.

The Manhattan Bridge features a separate pedestrian walkway as well as a bikeway, making it convenient to walk or cycle across the bridge. You’ll get a great view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline from here, and you can also see the Statue of Liberty in the distance. However, unlike the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge includes subway tracks. This means that crossing the bridge on foot or by bike can be rather noisy. You can also choose to cross the bridge by taking any of the following four subway lines: B, D, N or Q. If you take the B or Q train towards Manhattan, you’ll also get a chance to see the art installation called Masstransiscope, created by Bill Brand, in the abandoned Myrtle Avenue Station. You can see the zoetrope on the right side of the train just after leaving Dekalb Station.

3. Verrazano-Narrows Bridge 

Image of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connects Brooklyn to Staten Island in New York City

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is the only bridge on our list that doesn’t connect to Manhattan. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connects the Fort Hamilton neighborhood in Brooklyn to the New York borough Staten Island, and is known for being the starting point of the New York Marathon. The bridge was named after Giovanni da Verrazzano, the first European to enter the New York Harbor, and after the Narrows, the body of water that the bridge spans. The New York Harbor and Upper Bay lie north of the Narrows, and the Lower Bay and North Atlantic Ocean lie to the south.

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was opened in 1964, and an upper level was added in 1969 making it a double-decked suspension bridge. The bridge’s central span is 4,260 feet (1,298 meters) long, meaning it’s even longer than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. In fact, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge has the longest bridge span in the Americas! Unfortunately, the bridge doesn’t have a pedestrian or bike path (yet). You can enjoy the views from the bridge from a car or you can take a bus across the bridge (the S53, S79 or S93). There are also several express buses from Manhattan that cross this bridge.

4. Queensboro Bridge

Picture of the Queensboro Bridge and Roosevelt Island Tramway The Roosevelt Island Tramway and Queensboro Bridge

The Queensboro Bridge is the last bridge on this list that crosses the East River. It is located further to the north than the previous three bridges, and it connects the Upper East Side of Manhattan to Long Island City in Queens. It also passes over Roosevelt Island. The official name of the bridge is the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, but it’s also called the 59th Street Bridge because of its starting point on the Manhattan side.

The cantilever bridge was built in 1909, and features several roadways, a pedestrian path, and a bike path. Furthermore, there’s an aerial tramway that runs along the north side of the bridge and carries passengers from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island. Perhaps you will recognize it from the 2002 movie Spider-Man, as the tramway played a big part in the film’s climax. The Roosevelt Island Tramway is popular among tourists, and a great way to take a trip to Roosevelt Island. Both from the tramway and the island you’ll get a magnificent view of the Midtown Manhattan skyline.

Would you like to live on Roosevelt Island? Take a look at this room for rent in a 3-bedroom apartment on Roosevelt Island. This roommate share is perfect if you’re coming to New York for school, an internship, or on business. By living here you’ll be able to take the aerial tramway every day! If you’re looking for an apartment for a shorter period or holiday, check out our vacation rental apartments in New York City.

5. George Washington Bridge

Image of the George Washington Bridge at nighttime The George Washington Bridge lights up at nighttime

The last bridge of our top 5 is located on the west side of Manhattan, and connects New York City to New Jersey: The George Washington Bridge. This suspension bridge crosses the Hudson River, and has a total length of 4,760 feet (1,450 meters). It starts at the Washington Heights neighborhood in Upper Manhattan and ends in the New Jersey borough of Fort Lee. The George Washington Bridge was opened in 1931. The elegant suspension bridge has room for 14 lanes, and also features a separate bike and pedestrian walk. From the bridge’s high pedestrian walk you’ll witness amazing views of Manhattan, New Jersey and the Hudson River.

Bonus Bridges: Bow Bridge in Central Park and the Williamsburg Bridge 

Picture of Central Park’s Bow Bridge The beautiful Bow Bridge in Central Park

We felt like we couldn’t possibly end the list without at least giving Bow Bridge in Central Park and Williamsburg Bridge over the East River an honorable mention.

Bow Bridge is a beautiful cast iron bridge built in 1862, which features an intricate design with beautiful decorations. The walkway of the bridge was constructed of ipe wood and turns a gorgeous shade of red when it gets wet. Bow Bridge has been featured in many films, such as Manhattan, The Way We Were and Keeping the Faith. It’s also a very popular proposal spot among couples to propose. You can find Bow Bridge west of the Loeb Central Park Boathouse just beside The Lake.

The Williamsburg Bridge is the second suspension bridge that was built over the Lower East River. It is located somewhat further to the northeast from the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge, and connects the Lower East Side of Manhattan to the fashionable Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn. Built in 1903, the total length of the industrial looking bridge is 7,308 feet (2,227 meters). Because of its length it is best to cross this bridge is by bike. If you go by bike you’ll also get a great look at all the graffiti that’s still visible on the bridge. Of course there’s also a magnificent view of both Manhattan and Brooklyn.

That concludes our list of the top 5 bridges in New York City. What’s your favorite bridge in New York?



Related apartment rental posts from New York Habitat:
  1. More Bridges in New York City along the East River
  2. New York Bridges Part 1: Uptown views of the Hudson River
  3. The New York City Marathon is Fast Approaching – Have You Found Accommodation Yet?
  4. Top 10 Free Things To See & Do in New York City!
  5. Marathons in New York City


 

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