The bridges of Brooklyn: Brooklyn Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Pulaski Bridge, and Kosciuszko Bridge

brooklyn-bridge-manhattan-skyline

Brooklyn Bridge
This is inarguably the most iconic bridge in all of Brooklyn. Completed in 1883, it connected Brooklyn and Manhattan via bridge for the very first time. The bridge was heralded as an architectural marvel and became a symbol of the optimism of the time. It originally carried horse-drawn and rail traffic across the East River, with a separate elevated walkway for pedestrians and bicycles. But since 1950, the main roadway carried six lanes of auto traffic with a central, elevated pedestrian and bicycle walkway.

The trip across the bridge is one of the most famous routes for tourists and New Yorkers alike. Pedestrian access to the bridge from the Brooklyn side is in Dumbo from either Tillary/Adams Streets or a staircase on Prospect Street between Cadman Plaza East and West. In Manhattan, the pedestrian walkway is accessible from the end of Centre Street in Lower Manhattan, or through the south staircase of Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall subway station.

Brooklyn Bridge photo courtesy of Harshil Shah via Flickr.

 

williamsburg-bridge-brooklyn-sunset
Sunset over the Williamsburg Bridge | Jorge Quinteros via Flickr

Williamsburg Bridge
The Williamsburg Bridge opened in 1903 with a span of 1,600 feet — making it, at the time, the longest suspension bridge in the world. It originally carried rail, trolley and roadways for carriages and pedestrians and was one of the last major bridges designed for the horse and carriage. In the 1920s the trolley tracks were replaced with roadways, and the bridge now accommodates cars, subway trains, bikers and pedestrians. The bridge connects the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, to the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

To walk the Williamsburg Bridge from the Brooklyn side, pedestrians can enter at Berry Street between South 5th and South 6th Streets. Bicyclists enter a few blocks east at Washington Plaza, between Roebling and South 4th Streets. On the Manhattan side, pedestrians and cyclists enter at the same place at Clinton Street and Delancey. You can also take the J/M/Z trains across the bridge for some nice views of the Manhattan skyline.

 

manhattan-bridge-brooklyn-dumboManhattan Bridge | George Bernstein via Flickr

Manhattan Bridge
Completed in 1909, the Manhattan Bridge was the last of the three suspension bridges built across the lower East River, following both the Brooklyn Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge. (It was called Bridge No. 3 during its planning phase.) The Manhattan Bridge connects Dumbo with the Manhattan neighborhood of Chinatown. The Manhattan entrance to the bridge is distinguished by an elaborate stone portal and plaza designed by the architectural firm Carrère and Hastings. The impressive arch and colonnade are now a New York City landmark.

The bridge accommodates cars, subway trains, a walkway and a bikeway. The Manhattan Bridge does not have the pedestrian crowds of the Brooklyn Bridge, but if you cross on the south side of the bridge you’ll get nice views of the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor, and the Brooklyn Bridge. For pedestrians, the Brooklyn entrance to the bridge is on Jay Street near Sands Street. The Manhattan entrance is on Bowery at Canal Street. You can also take the N or Q train across the bridge, which offers fantastic views of both the Manhattan and Brooklyn skyline.

 

verrazano-narrows-bridge-brooklyn-manhattan
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge | Mambo’Dan via Flickr

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
When the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opened in 1964, it boasted the world’s longest suspension span — it’s 60 feet longer than the Golden Gate Bridge. The sleek bridge is defined by its monumental 693-foot-high towers. It’s named for the Florentine explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, the first European to enter New York Harbor and the Hudson River, and also for the Narrows, the body of water the bridge spans. The Verrazano-Narrows connects Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn and Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island, both of which guarded the New York Harbor at the Narrows for over a century.

The tolled bridge carries cars and city buses. There are no pedestrian walkways on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island. The bridge only opens to pedestrians on special occasions like the New York Marathon, and to bicycles for the Five Boro Bike Tour.

 

pulaski-bridge-long-island-brooklyn
From Brooklyn to Long Island City | Victoria Belanger via Flickr

Pulaski Bridge
While it’s nothing special to look at, this modest bridge is one of the most heavily used bridges connecting Brooklyn to Queens. It opened in 1954, carrying six lanes of traffic and a pedestrian sidewalk over Newtown Creek and the Long Island Expressway. It connects the Greenpoint neighborhood in Brooklyn to Long Island City in Queens.

The pedestrian walkway is a popular route to Queens, and it often gets crowded. Due to safety concerns, the city plans to renovate and expand it to better accommodate walkers and bikers.

 

Kosciuszco-Bridge-BrooklynFrom Greenpoint to Maspeth | Jim Henderson via Wikimedia

Kosciuszko Bridge
Just up from Newtown Creek from the Pulaski is the Kosciuszko, a truss bridge running from Greenpoint to Maspeth, Queens, that exclusively handles Brooklyn-Queens Expressway traffic. The bridge opened in 1939, named after Tadeusz Kościuszko, a Polish general from the American Revolution.

There are no pedestrian or bicycle lanes on this bridge, but that’s about to change — construction may be starting this year on a new cable-stayed bridge that will have nine vehicle lanes plus a pedestrian and bicycle path. The new bridge, though, probably won’t open until at least 2018.