How to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge: Getting on the bridge, what to do, how to get back

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The walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, whether you’re walking from Brooklyn to Manhattan or vice versa, is one of the most iconic walks New York City has to offer. There are, however, some specifics you need to know before you span the bridge and take in those awesome views of lower Manhattan and the New York Harbor. Here’s everything you need to know about how to get on the bridge, what to do on the bridge, and what to do when you get to the other side.

Brooklyn Bridge photo courtesy of Harshil Shah via Flickr.

How to get on the bridge from Manhattan

brooklyn-bridge-entrance-manhattan-city-hall

This is the best entrance if… You’re already in lower Manhattan; this is the beginning of your trip to Brooklyn. (Check out our previous article on what to do after you’ve walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.)

From Manhattan, you enter the bridge at City Hall in Lower Manhattan, right along Centre Street. Take the 4/5/6 trains directly to Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall Station and you’ll be right there. Also nearby are the J/Z trains (Chambers Street station) or the R (City Hall).

BB_City_Hall_IRT_stair_jehBrooklyn Bridge-City Hall Station, across from the Brooklyn Bridge | Wikipedia

How to get on the bridge from Brooklyn (via Washington Street/Cadman Plaza East)

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This is the best entrance if… You’re OK climbing a flight of stairs; you’re coming from DUMBO or Brooklyn Heights in Brooklyn; you’re arriving by subway via the A/C line.

The best way to access the Brooklyn entrance is by taking the A or C train to the High Street-Brooklyn Bridge subway stop. Follow the signs for Cadman Plaza West and Cranberry and Henry Streets. You’ll surface across the street from Cadman Plaza, a downtown Brooklyn park. Cross to the park, and take the footpath that on the far left, the one that follows a black fence as it curves to the left. This will take you to the street on the other side of the park, Cadman Plaza East as it goes underneath the Brooklyn Bridge towards DUMBO. The pedestrian stairway will be under the bridge on the left, well marked by signs. (If you need a visual aid, check out this helpful video.)

This entrance is also helpful if you’re in DUMBO… simply walk up Washington Street, away from the river, crossing under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway before getting to this entrance from the other side. (Washington Street becomes Cadman Plaza East.) If you’re coming from the F train station at York Street, walk east on York Street (towards the bridges) and turn left on Washington Street.

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How to get on the bridge from Brooklyn (via Tillary Street and Boerum Place)

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This is the best entrance if… You’re riding a bike; you prefer a long, gradual ramp to a flight of stairs; you’re coming from Downtown Brooklyn, Cobble Hill, or points south.

There’s a long walkway that begins at the intersection of Tillary Street and Boerum Place, in Downtown Brooklyn. It’s in the middle of a very busy intersection, so be sure to be careful and obey all traffic signs. This long approach to the bridge is a favorite for runners and cyclists.

brooklyn-bridge-entrance-tillary-boerumBrooklyn Bridge entrance at Tillary Street and Boerum Place |  CCNY by Bike

Crossing the bridge

If you’re walking, you should plan to spend around an hour getting from one side to the other (that’s taking into account time for photographs). It’s about a 1.3 mile walk one way. You’ll be able to cross the bridge on a bike in less than 15 minutes, but it isn’t recommended for visitors — more on that later.

walking-across-brooklyn-bridge-new-york-city-dumbo-manhattanPedestrian and bike lanes on the Brooklyn Bridge | Mike Norton via Flickr

There are two lanes in the pedestrian pathway of the Brooklyn Bridge. One is for bicycles, the other is for pedestrians. Both lanes are very narrow, so it’s important to be aware of your surroundings at all times and hold the hands of little children present. The pedestrian lane is usually very crowded, making it tempting to walk inside the bicycle lane. Don’t do it — bikes travel quickly through the bridge, especially along the downward slope.

If you’re traveling the bridge for the first time, it isn’t recommended to travel via bicycle. Because the bike lane is so narrow it’s not a relaxing trip, and it’s much harder to pull over and stop for pictures. Plus, when you’re peddling (and panting) up the bridge, you’re not able to fully enjoy the views!

 

walking-brooklyn-bridge-manhattan-skyline-brooklyn-new-york-cityThe Manhattan skyline from the Brooklyn Bridge | Colleen Maier via Flickr

If you’re walking, be sure to wear good walking shoes. The approaches to the bridge are concrete, and the bridge walkway is made of planks of wood, so comfortable sneakers work best. There are no restroom facilities, food, or drinks provided on the bridge (except a few unlicensed vendors who may be selling water or soft drinks). And any sort of climbing or horseplay is prohibited.

Where to take photographs

You’ll have endless photo opportunities along the way, including views of the Statue of Liberty, Governor’s Island and lower Manhattan to the south, and midtown Manhattan and the other bridges to the north. (The two closest bridges are the Manhattan Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge.)

statue-of-liberty-walking-across-brooklyn-bridge-manhattan-new-york-cityThe Statue of Liberty from the Brooklyn Bridge | Ames Lai via Flickr

When you’re taking pictures, try not to block other pedestrians or cyclists. At best, you’re inconveniencing other sightseers like you — and at worst, you could be hit by a bicycle. The best place to take pictures is at the two towers of the bridge, where there’s space for sightseeing away from the bike and pedestrian traffic.

Leave the locks at home!

Over the past decade, it has become increasingly popular for young couples to leave a padlock on a bridge as a symbol of their enduring love. In Paris, the bridges have become cluttered and even damaged by this fad. New York City officials are asking visitors not to deface our historic bridge. Why not celebrate your love with a selfie against the Manhattan skyline at sunset? As wilderness hikers often say: Take only pictures, leave only footprints.

 

dumbo-waterfrontBrooklyn Bridge Park | Wally Gobetz via Flickr

What to do when you get to Brooklyn

Just walked across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn? Take the stairway down to Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO for great sightseeing, eating, drinking, and shopping. Take a look at the articles What to do after you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and Neighborhood Walks: Brooklyn Heights. (There’s also a brand-new Shake Shack that just moved in.)

 

East River Ferry

How to get back

If you’re not walking back across, take a look at the maps above to see which subway is closest to your exit off the bridge. Or, if you’ve just walked across the bridge to Brooklyn, take a ferry or water taxi back to Manhattan!

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