Brooklyn Bridge by Katie Hinkle

Interesting & Famous Bridges in New York City

In Brooklyn, Guides, New York, See & Do by Megan ILeave a Comment

Did you know that there are over 2,000 NYC bridges and tunnels?! Out of those, there are a few famous bridges in New York City which we are going to cover in this guide, some of which are popular tourist attractions or are considered symbols of the city.

If you’re planning on visiting the most famous bridges in New York City, this guide will help you filter down and pick which of these New York bridges you should check out and just provide some interesting facts and tidbits about the other bridges that made this roundup!

Interesting & Famous NYC Bridges

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge with no one else on it!Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most iconic and famous bridges in New York and the United States in general, dare I even say the world? If we are speaking on a personal level, this is my favorite bridge in NYC as it is for many New Yorkers and has become a symbol of the city because of its recognizable design and how it’s one of the most well-known tourist attractions and experiences to walk across the bridge, not to mention the history of the Brooklyn Bridge is also fascinating.

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest surviving roadway bridges with its opening date dating back to 1883 and was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time of its opening at the length of 6,016 feet (1.14 miles).

The Brooklyn Bridge connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn over the East River which offers a beautiful view from on and every single angle of the bridge of the NYC city skyline. At the time of the Brooklyn Bridge opening though, Manhattan and Brooklyn were actually two different cities.

The bridge is made up of 6 vehicle lanes, a pedestrian, and a bicycle path. Traveling across the bridge by foot without stopping takes approximately 20-30 minutes, and it is always fun to walk across, take in the views, and grab a few photos.

However, this is one of the busiest bridges to cross by foot in the city due to its popularity. If you want to really enjoy the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, be sure to visit around peak times of visitation early in the mornings, on weekdays, or on a rainy day.

The Brooklyn Bridge actually had quite a few struggles behind getting the bridge built, making it one of the most fascinating NYC bridges to learn about the history which combined with the popularity, helped get this NYC bridge identified as a National Historic Landmark. Be sure to read our favorite Brooklyn Bridge facts!

See more of the best Manhattan views from Brooklyn.

Manhattan Bridge

Manhattan Bridge and Empire State Building view in DUMBO Brooklyn

Another one of the most aesthetically pleasing and famous bridges in New York City is the Manhattan Bridge which neighbors the Brooklyn Bridge over the East River connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn. 

Just like the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge is a suspension bridge as well and stretches 6,855 feet (~1.3 miles) making it just a hair longer in length than its neighbor and sister NYC bridge.

You can cross the Manhattan Bridge by car, it actually only one of four toll-free bridges to drive across, cross by subway, bicycle, or walk the Manhattan Bridge. Manhattan Bridge has four subway lines, a dedicated pedestrian walkway, seven lanes for automobiles, and a bike lane. The pathway leads to and takes thousands of tourists and commuters each day from Chinatown in Lower Manhattan to DUMBO in Brooklyn.

On average, over 450,000 people pass this NYC bridge on a daily basis. During weekends the bridge is usually more crowded, but never as crowded as walking the Brooklyn Bridge, even on the busiest of days and offers a great view looking at the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Manhattan Bridge opened in 1909 after 8 years of construction when 100 people walked across the bridge which was considered the completion and ‘opening’ of the bridge.

Williamsburg Bridge

Williamsburg-Bridge-view-from-Domino-Park-in-Williamsburg-Brooklyn

Williamsburg Bridge is a toll-free suspension bridge in NYC spanning across the East River and connecting the Lower East Side of Manhattan, aka LES, with the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Construction of this bridge started in 1896, and in 1903 the bridge was open to public use. The bridge is made of steel towers and four steel cables that are 2,985 feet each, the entire bridge actually is made up of more steel than any other material. 

When the Williamsburg Bridge opened in 1903, up until 1924, this was the longest spanning suspension bridge in the world.

The Williamsburg Bridge has three subway lines that pass across it, a bike path, a walkway, and eight lanes of vehicle pathways. This is another of the New York bridges that you may want to consider a walk! Walking across the Williamsburg Bridge is popular among photographers who love urban photography and architecture.

In its early days, the bridge had trolley tracks and pathways for horses and carriages until the 1920s where they were replaced with vehicle paths. History rumors have it that the bridge was one of the last major bridges designed for horses and carriages.

In the 19th century, the bridge served as a prayer point for the Jewish community and was also a quick transition for Jewish migrants looking to move to Brooklyn from the Lower East Side.

The Williamsburg Bridge has been featured in several movies like Spider-Man, American Gangster, The French Connection, Johnny Suede, Live and Let Die, and many others.

Famous artists also adorned it. This includes artists like Sonny Rollins, who loved to practice and play Jazz saxophone on the bridge and also named his album “The Bridge” in honor of the bridge.

To date, the Williamsburg Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge are the only suspension bridges in New York City that still carry both rail traffic and automobile traffic. 

Queensboro Bridge

new-york-city-with-queensboro-bridgeThe Queensboro Bridge or Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge is another one of the most recognizable and famous bridges in New York City. The style of bridge is known as a cantilever, or a multi-spa, bridge extending over the East River in New York City connecting Manhattan to Queens passing over Roosevelt Island spanning 3,724 feet.

The Queensboro Bridge has a distinctive design and is one of the most recognizable of bridges in New York City.

The bridge has two levels; the lower level and the upper level. The upper level of the bridge has four lanes of vehicular traffic consisting of two roadways. Each of the roadways has two lanes in each direction. The lower level of the bridge has five vehicular lanes and a pedestrian path.

In addition to these two levels of the bridge with several pathways, the bridge also has an extended railway line. This is also one of the four NYC bridges that do not charge a toll for vehicular crossing.

At its opening in 1909, the Queensboro Bridge had the record of having the longest steel cantilever spans in North America until the completion of the Quebec Bridge in 1917, which overtook the record. 

Owing to its design and history, the Queensboro Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in New York City, serving as an attraction to tourists and is featured as establishing shots to the city in many movies and tv shows.

Verrazano Narrows Bridge

street scene of Verazzano Bridge in Bay ridge BrooklynThe Verrazano Narrows Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the United States, measuring about 13,700 feet (2.6 miles) in length or equivalent to the length of over 14 football fields, as well as being the longest of the bridges in New York City.

The bridge spans across the “The Narrows” (a body of water that links the Upper New York Bay with Lower New York Bay and the Atlantic Ocean) and connects Staten Island to Brooklyn.

This double-decker bridge is located at the mouth of Upper New York Bay, and in addition to connecting Brooklyn with Staten Island, the bridge also serves as a major link in the interstate highway system and provides the shortest route between the mid-Atlantic states and Long Island.

The Verrazano Bridge was named after a renowned Italian explorer, Giovanni da Verrazzano. He was the first known European to explore New York Bay and the man to discover the Hudson River and at the time of its opening in 1964, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1981 when the Humber Bridge in the UK surpassed it.

Crossing the Verrazano Narrows bridge requires a toll-fee. Recently, a split tolling was introduced. Hence, toll collections now take place in both Brooklyn and Staten Island-bound directions. Motorists entering Staten Island and Brooklyn are charged at different rates. 

Be aware that on extremely windy days, this NYC bridge does shut down for safety reasons. At night, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge is illuminated by 262 LED lights that make it a spectacle to see.

George Washington Bridge

george-washington-bridge-in-nycThe George Washington Bridge is one of the famous bridges in New York City. Part of the reason for its fame is because it was named after the first United States president, General George Washington who is deeply tied to the history of not only our country but much of that taking place right here in NYC.

The George Washington Bridge connects New Jersey to Manhattan over the Hudson River and is a double-decked suspension bridge that’s the busiest motor vehicle bridge in the world! That being said, to cross the George Washington Bridge by car you will have to pay a toll and that fee depends on the type of vehicle and time of day.

The bridge has two towers held by four main steel cables. Initially, the bridge was built with six vehicular lanes, with an additional two lanes added in 1946. Presently, the bridge has 14 lanes – making it the only bridge with 14 lanes in the world.

At the upper level of the bridge, there are two sidewalks that can be utilized by pedestrians and cyclists. While walking across the bridge, there are several beautiful sites that can behold. The Palisade Interstate Park, where you can find great day hikes near NYC, and Fort Lee Historic Park are in proximity to the bridge.

The bridge started construction in 1927 and was completed and opened to traffic in 1931. And like many of our NYC bridges, upon opening in 1931, the Geroge Washington Bridge was the longest main bridge span in the world at 3,500 feet until the completion of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in 1937.

Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly Triborough)

robert-f-kennedy-bridge-or-triborough-bridge-in-nycThe Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, formerly known as the Triborough Bridge, is another one of the most famous bridges in New York. The name switch took place in 2008, however, because so many knew the name of the bridge as the Triborough, many still call it that even to this day.

The Robert F. Kennedy Bridge links the boroughs of Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan over the East River, hence the original name. The construction of this NYC bridge started in 1929 and was completed in 1937.

This is definitely one of the most interesting bridges in New York City when it comes to design as its actually three bridges interconnected by an elevated highway viaduct and a host of various roads. The three bridges include the vertical-lift bridge, the Truss bridge, and the East River Suspension bridge.

The vertical-lift bridge sits above the Harlem River, and it links Manhattan to Randall’s Island. The truss bridge is above the Bronx Kill, and it connects Randalls Island to the Bronx. The suspension bridge that passes over the straight of the East River known as Hell Gate, connects Astoria, Queens to Wards Island.

All three bridges meet on Randall’s Island, which Wards Island and Randall’s Island were two separate islands until they were filled and joined by a landfill.

To cross this NYC bridge by car, you will need to pay a toll, which are now all done electronically as the toll booths that were man-operated are now closed.

Kosciuszko Bridge

The Kosciuszko Bridge, which connects Brooklyn to Queens over Newtown Creek is a style of bridge is what’s known as a cable-stayed bridge, a style of bridge that has two or more towers/pylons that are connected with a series of cables that connect it to the bridge deck. 

The bridge you see today was not the original Kosciuszko Bridge, that bridge was located next to this site with the same name, except it was a truss bridge, and first opened in 1939 and was named Meeker Avenue Bridge. In 1940, the bridge was renamed Tadeusz Kosciuszko Bridge, after a Polish military leader who fought alongside Americans in the American Revolutionary War.

The bridge we see today opened in two phases, the first opened the eastbound span in 2017 and then the westbound span followed, opening in 2019.

The new bridge has a bikeway and walkway for those crossing without a car and is known for being illuminated at night with all different colors of light, making it a show stopper and popular landmark of the Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint.

Henry Hudson Bridge

The Henry Hudson Bridge is another impressive bridge in NYC spanning over the Spuyten Duyvil Creek connecting Inwood in the Bronx to Manhattan. This steel bridge has 7 lanes for motorcars and has two levels and a toll fee.

This NYC bridge opened in 1936 and was named to commemorate English sea-explorer Henry Hudson who set on a voyage that anchored near here in 1609. At the time of its opening, it was the longest fixed arch bridge in the world.

Bronx-Whitestone Bridge

bronx-whitestone-bridge-in-nycThe Bronx–Whitestone Bridge is one of the many suspension bridges in New York City, spanning across the East River and connecting the Bronx to the Queens.

This NYC bridge has a bit of an interesting backstory when it comes to getting the bridge built. The bridge was initially going to start construction as early as 1905 but didn’t start until 31 years later due to getting everything approved.

The design is similar to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge which tragically collapsed in 1940 which caused quite a scare and extra support trusses were added to the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge to prevent this from happening along with adding extra lanes to increase the number of traffic lanes to 6.

This bridge in New York is also used as an alternative to the Throgs Neck Bridge, which had restrictions for heavy and tall vehicles pass. These larger and often commercial vehicles were able to pass on the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge.

Like several other New York City bridges, the Bronx – Whitestone bridge requires a toll fee for passage with different rates for types of vehicles.  

Throgs Neck Bridge

Built to help de-congest and relieve traffic on the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, Throgs Neck Bridge opened in 1961 with 6 lanes of traffic spanning over the East River with its confluence with the Long Island Sound that connects the Throggs Neck area of the Bronx and Queens.

The bridge is among the seven New York bridges that span across the East River and as mentioned before, this NYC bridge had limitations with weight and height for large vehicles who would have to use the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge instead.

The name of Throggs Neck derives from European colonist, John Throckmorton who settled near here.

Hell Gate Bridge

hell-gate-bridge-in-new-york-city-VJYBDUTAnother interesting NYC bridge is the Hell Gate Bridge which spans across “Hell Gate,” a dangerous channel and straight of the East River between Queens and Manhattan that is used solely for freight and Amtrak trains, the only bridge mentioned on our list that isn’t for motorcars!

When Hell Gate Bridge was completed in 1916 it was considered the longest steel arch bridge in the world and it actually inspired the design and construction of other bridges including the inspiration for the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Bayonne Bridge (which is another NYC bridge that connects Staten Island and New Jersey), and the Tyne Bridge.

Because of its design, it can carry some large loads on the freight trains that use the tracks on Hell Gate Bridge and it is said that the bridge could also last at least 1,000 years due to its design.

From Wards Island Park on Wards Island and Astoria Park in Queens is where you can get a great view of this NYC bridge.

Pulaski Bridge

Arguably not one of the most famous bridges in New York City, but worth mentioning is the Pulaski Bridge which connects Long Island City in Queens to Greenpoint in Brooklyn spanning over the Newton Creek. 

Greenpoint, Brooklyn is known for its enclave of Polish immigrants and Polish-American community and the name of the Pulaski Bridge actually was inspired by a Polish military commander, Casimir Pulaski, who played a key role in the American Revolutionary War.

This bridge in New York City opened in 1954 and is a type of drawbridge or movable bridge known as a bascule bridge that has 6 lanes of traffic and a pedestrian walkway along with LIRR tracks. This bridge is actually popular during the New York City Marathon because its around the halfway mark on the race which runners cross during their marathon.

This NYC bridge actually had to be completely reconstructed, which took place in the 1990s for 3 years.

If you’re a fan of movable bridges in NYC, be sure to also look at our guide to Gowanus which has the Carroll Street Bridge, one of the least trafficked bridges in the city and is rather interesting as well!

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