There’s more than one bridge across the East River, connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan. While the Brooklyn Bridge steals the limelight, the Manhattan Bridge offers its own set of charms. It’s less well-known and way less crowded. If you want an excellent walking path from one side of the river to the other, the Manhattan Bridge may be the way to go. It extends from Flatbush Avenue in downtown Brooklyn to Chinatown in Manhattan. It drops you in the center of everything, without fighting the crowds of tourists to get there. Plus, it’s right near a bunch of subway stops so that you can head out into the Big Apple in any direction.
A Brief History of the Manhattan Bridge
The Manhattan Bridge is over 6,000 feet long and has been spanning the river for more than 100 years. Leon Moisseiff, the designer, also had a hand in other iconic bridges like the George Washington and Robert F. Kennedy crossovers. It is a suspension bridge that allows car, bike, and pedestrian traffic. The Manhattan Bridge is one of four bridges that span the East River — all with no tolls — including the Brooklyn, Queensboro, and Williamsburg bridges. It is several blocks north of the Brooklyn Bridge, and easier to navigate during tourist season or on the weekends. Thousands make their way to Chinatown for a bite on busy days. While the Brooklyn Bridge offers iconic views of the New York skyline, a glance over the side of the Manhattan Bridge is awe-inspiring.
A Stroll to the South
The walking path for the Manhattan Bridge is on the south side of the construction, along with the best views. The view from the Brooklyn Bridge is great, but so is the panorama of the Brooklyn Bridge which you can enjoy from the south side walking path. Laid out in all of its splendor is the New York Harbor and the towering robes of the Statue of Liberty. The Brooklyn Bridge sits dramatically against the unforgettable Lower Manhattan skyline, so be sure to grab a few shots along the way.
The pedestrian path, restored in 1982, rapidly became a favorite for locals. It’s noisy, gritty, and a real picture of urban life. Graffiti lines the walls from one end of the bridge to the other, creating impressive views along the way. When taking in the imagery of the city, be on the lookout for cutout areas where links are missing. High fences line most of the walk, but a few areas make great lookouts for photo bugs.
Be prepared for some noise. The path sits right below traffic, so every rumbling engine and passing train echoes across the water. Travelers using the Manhattan Bridge may pause to enjoy the scenery, but this is an access point that’s practical and designed to get from point A to B.
What to Do Near the Manhattan Bridge
After exiting the bridge on the Brooklyn side, you’re in DUMBO, or Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass. This area packs in lots of fun things to do. The Main Street Park and Pebble Beach offer a relaxing oasis in the heart of one of the world’s busiest cities. Jane’s Carousel was recently renovated and is open for those interested in taking a spin. The Archway Under Manhattan Bridge is worth walking the couple blocks to get a snapshot. Grab a bite at one of the ubiquitous food places that seem to spring up every few storefronts.
Heading in the opposite direction toward Manhattan, you come out right into Chinatown. It’s a destination that means terrific food, kitschy shopping spots, and enough character to keep your eyes attentive. No matter which way you’re headed on the Manhattan Bridge, there’s something fun waiting at the end of the trip.