The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the big icons of New York City. The combination stayed-cable & suspension bridge first opened back in 1883, so people have been marveling at it for over a century. Here’s everything you need to know, not only about the history of the bridge but also about visiting and walking across for great NYC views.
Brooklyn Bridge History
The Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883, but it took 14 long years and the labor of 600 people to build it. Engineer John A. Roebling came up with the innovative design and put it into place with the help of many assistant engineers. At the time it was considered a feat of modern engineering. Most homes and businesses of the era were still lit by gas lights, but the bridge had glittering electric lights and was the first to use electric lighting over a river. The bridge cost $15 million, which might seem like a lot even by today’s standards, but it pales in comparison to the costs of engineering jobs today. For example, the recently constructed portion of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge cost $6.4 billion!
Why Visit The Brooklyn Bridge?
Even today The Brooklyn Bridge remains one of NYC’s star attractions. On the Brooklyn side, Brooklyn Bridge Park is a beautiful green space in Brooklyn Heights. There are several piers with different possibilities for activities, including volleyball, bocce, ping pong, basketball and handball. Just sitting on a bench and enjoying the beautiful view of the bridge is a great activity by itself.
Once you get to the bridge, you may be tempted to walk or bike across. If you do so you will be treated to views of NYC and a close-up look at the unique and historic construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. When you go across, you will truly feel that you are part of NYC history.
Once you’re on the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge, you will be close to many attractions of NYC like City Hall Park, Wall Street, South Street Seaport, World Trade Center and the 9/11 Tribute Museum.
How to Cross the Brooklyn Bridge
If you choose to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, be prepared because it is estimated that about 4,000 pedestrians cross the bridge each day, so you may be part of a crowd. On the Manhattan side, you enter at City Hall Park on Centre Street. It’s close to many subway lines including the 4, 5, 6 at Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall station, and the J, Z at Chambers Street.
Most people prefer walking across from the Brooklyn side because then you get amazing sweeping views of Manhattan. To enter on this side, go to the intersection of Tillary & Boerum Place in Dumbo and get on the pedestrian walkway. Most subway stops are about a half mile away.
The total length of the pedestrian walkway is a little over a mile. If you’re a tourist taking your time, allow a full hour so you can snap plenty of photos and take your time. Commuters on a faster pace should allow 20-30 minutes to power-walk across. Make sure to be aware of your surroundings when on the bridge. There is a distinct line on the walkway to separate pedestrians from cyclists, so even if you’re going slow or taking pictures, stay out of cyclists’ way!
It is also possible to bike across the bridge on the pedestrian path but beware there is a steep incline when you start on either side. That plus the fact that NYC’s Citi rental bikes are pretty heavy can give you quite a workout!
Now that you know everything about the Brooklyn Bridge, put on your walking shoes and enjoy the views.