Some of the best bridges in the world are situated in New York City and if you want to learn more about the bridges of NYC, keep reading!
With five New York City boroughs spread across four distinct landmasses, New York City has completely remarkable geography. As an outcome, there are a lot of bridges in New York City, 2027, to be precise.
The King’s Bridge, which spanned Spuyten Duyvil Creek between the Bronx and Manhattan, was the first bridge built in this area in 1693, and over the years, more were built.
By 1883, we had the magnificent Brooklyn Bridge, which triggered a chain reaction of bridge construction along the East River, with the Manhattan, Queensboro, and Williamsburg bridges all order to open in the decades that followed.
Some of these bridges of NYC are extremely popular, like the Brooklyn Bridge. For instance, the others haven’t quite acquired that level of fame. However, 10 of the 2027 bridges of NYC have acquired National Historic Landmark status, making them worth knowing!
So, from the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge to the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge and High Bridge, here are the 11 Great Bridges of NYC!
11 Great Bridges of NYC To Explore
1- The Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is undoubtedly one of the most famous bridges in New York, frequently appearing in popular culture, and thus we must start this list of “The Great Bridges of NYC” with this one and only Brooklyn Bridge itself!
Originally known as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge or the East River Bridge before being renamed in 1915, the Brooklyn Bridge connects the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. It is also the southernmost of 4 toll-free vehicular bridges linking Manhattan Island to Long Island. The bridge opened on May 24, 1883, and it was the first fixed crossing of the East River.
The bridge’s construction began in 1869 with German immigrant John Augustus Roebling, who was badly hurt while carrying out research and passed away soon after. He delegated project management to his son Washington Roebling. Still, when he became ill and bedbound, his wife, Emily Roebling, furthered the project and went on to be regarded as the first female engineer in the field.
The Brooklyn Bridge also has many feats to its name! Ever since its construction, the Brooklyn Bridge has been a popular tourist destination and a symbol of New York City. It is also the oldest suspension bridge in NYC, and at the time of its opening, it was the largest suspension bridge in the world!
Also, in the center of the Brooklyn Bridge, there is an elevated promenade, also known as the Brooklyn bridge’s pedestrian walkway, which receives the most attention out of any of the bridges of NYC!
2- Manhattan Bridge
Manhattan Bridge, another one of the suspension bridges of NYC, too spans across the East River, linking Lower Manhattan to Downtown Brooklyn. It is another one of the toll-free vehicular bridges linking Manhattan Island to Long Island.
Leon Moisseiff designed the bridge, constructed by The Phoenix Bridge Company and officially opened on December 31, 1909. It was the first suspension bridge to employ Josef Melan’s deflection theory for deck stiffening, which resulted in the use of a lightly-webbed weight-saving Warren truss for its build.
This double-decked suspension bridge is regarded as the pioneer of modern suspension bridges and served as the prototype for many of the world-record spans constructed during the first half of the 20th century!
Interestingly, DUMBO, which stands for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass,” is even a neighborhood named after the bridge. This charming neighborhood of cobbled streets and small businesses has grown in popularity over the last two decades.
The Manhattan Bridge, without a doubt, might be the most beautiful of the bridges of NYC with its sleek design and impeccable location!
3- Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge
Earlier known as the Queensboro Bridge, the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge was renamed in March 2011.
The now Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge is a double-decked cantilever bridge in NYC that spans the East River. It links the borough of Queens’ Long Island City to Manhattan’s Upper East Side and passes over Roosevelt Island. It is also the northernmost of the 4 toll-free vehicle bridges that connect Manhattan Island to Long Island!
Since its Manhattan end is situated between 59th and 60th streets, The Queensboro Bridge is also known as the 59th Street Bridge!
Gustav Lindenthal designed the Queensboro in collaborative efforts with Leffert L. Buck and Henry Hornbostel. On March 30, 1909, the bridge was opened to the public.
This NYC bridge is constantly adapting to the needs of the people, having the aerial Roosevelt Island Tramway, which connects Upper East Side Manhattan to Roosevelt Island, flanks the western leg of the bridge on its northern side. The Queensboro Bridge remains the only one of the bridges of NYC that runs parallel to a tram!
4- Williamsburg Bridge
Yet another one of the suspension bridges of NYC that run over the East River, the Williamsburg Bridge connects Manhattan’s Lower East Side to Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood.
Williamsburg Bridge runs parallel to the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan bridge but goes further up north. It is also one of the toll-free vehicle bridges linking Manhattan Island to Long Island.
Leffert L. Buck and Henry Hornbostel, both of whom worked on the Queensboro Bridge, were the chief engineer and the architect, respectively, for the Williamsburg Bridge, and Holton D. Robinson was the assistant engineer.
Originally known as the New East River Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge was finished in 1903 and held the world record for the longest suspension bridge span until the Bear Mountain Bridge opened in 1924.
5- George Washington Bridge
Named after George Washington, the country’s first president, a double-decked suspension bridge and the largest bridge in New York, The George Washington Bridge spans the Hudson River between Manhattan, New York City, and Fort Lee, New Jersey.
It took planners and engineers a century to figure out how to build a bridge connecting New York and New Jersey. Eventually, engineers Othmar Ammann and Cass Gilbert came up with the perfect design.
The construction of the George Washington Bridges in New York City began in 1927 and ended in 1931. From its inception until the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco opened in 1937, it had the world’s longest main bridge span!
The George Washington Bridge was also referred to as the Fort Lee Bridge or the Hudson River Bridge during construction and is now known by names such as the GW Bridge, the GWB, the GW, or the George.
Today, The George Washington Bridge is the world’s busiest motor vehicle bridge, with over 103 million vehicles passing through it in 2016. It’s also the subject of a fantastic children’s book, The Little Red Lighthouse.
6- Verrazzano Narrows Bridge
The Verrazano Narrows Bridge, an elegant double-decker suspension bridge, is one of New York City’s most phenomenal creations!
The bridge spans the Narrows, a water body that connects Upper New York Bay to Lower New York Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The Verrazzano Narrows Bridge is the Narrows’ only fixed crossing, and it links Brooklyn to Staten Island.
Giovanni da Verrazzano was the first European explorer to enter New York Harbor and the Hudson River in 1524, and the bridge was named after him. However, due to a construction contract error, the bridge’s official name was misspelled “Verrazano-Narrows Bridge” when officially named in 1960. It was officially corrected only much later in 2018.
This bridge is relatively new in bridge years, having opened in 1964. It was designed by Othmar Ammann, Leopold Just, and other Ammann & Whitney engineers. It was the world’s longest suspension bridge until 1981, when it was trumped by the Humber Bridge in the United Kingdom. The bridge also has the world’s 18th-longest main span and the longest in the Americas!
The Verrazzano Narrows Bridge is visible from all five boroughs of New York City, and ever since 1976, the New York City Marathon begins at the end of this bridge, on the Staten Island side!
7- The Robert F Kennedy bridge
The Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, formerly and still colloquially known as the Triborough Bridge, is a New York City bridge and elevated expressway viaduct complex. The bridges connect Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx. The viaducts connect Randalls and Wards Islands, which were once separate islands but are now connected by a landfill.
Since the Robert F Kennedy bridge is the only NYC bridge that links three of the city’s boroughs, it was named the Triborough Bridge.
The three bridges of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge complex are as follows:
a) The world’s largest vertical-lift bridge spans the Harlem River, linking Manhattan to Randalls Island.
b) The truss bridge spans Bronx Kill and connects Randalls Island to the Bronx.
c) Finally, the suspension bridge connects Wards Island to Astoria in Queens across Hell Gate.
Architect Aymar Embury II and chief engineer Othmar H. Ammann developed the bridge complex, and it first opened in 1936. The history of this bridge is rather interesting as when in early October 1929, the Board of Estimate authorized the first contracts for the Triborough Bridge, a loud ceremony took place in Astoria Park, Queens.
On October 25, 1929, just one day after Black Thursday, which kicked off the Great Depression, provided a grim prognosis for the project.
However, fortunately, in the early 1930s, they managed to bring the project back to life even though it was at a huge cost.
The bridge also has a pedestrian walkway, but there is no bike path.
8- Bronx Whitestone Bridge
The Bronx–Whitestone Bridge, also known as the Whitestone Bridge or merely the Whitestone, is a suspension bridge in New York City over the East River. This bridge links the Bronx’s Throggs Neck and Ferry Point Park on the East River’s northern shore with Queens’ Whitestone neighborhood on the southern shore.
Although the construction of the Bronx–Whitestone Bridge was envisioned quite early on in 1905, it was not until 1936 that it was authorized. The Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, according to Robert Moses, was a critical link to an airport site that would ultimately be known as LaGuardia Airport. It was also hoped to alleviate the traffic congestion on the Triborough Bridge.
This bridge too was designed by Swiss-American architect Othmar Ammann and design engineer Allston Dana, and it began operation on April 29, 1939.
Did you know that the bridge was designed in the same manner as another bridge that collapsed in 1940, known as the Tacoma Narrows Bridge?
9- Throgs Neck Bridge
The latest and the easternmost bridge across the East River, the Throgs Neck Bridge, is another suspension bridge in New York City that spans over the East River and into Long Island Sound. The bridge connects the Bronx’s Throggs Neck neighborhood to Queens Bay Terrace neighborhood.
The Throgs Neck Bridge opened on January 11, 1961, to relieve traffic on the Bronx Whitestone Bridge, parallel to this bridge. However, the traffic only increased.
The name “Throgs Neck” comes from John Throckmorton, the first to settle on Throgs Neck. The traditional spelling includes two “g”s. but the modified version with one “g” was likely chosen by Robert Moses, who we mentioned earlier, the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) chairman, which constructed the Throgs Neck Bridge, probably as this would have been easier for everyone to spell.
Only cars can cross the bridge as there is no pedestrian path or bike lane.
10- Hell Gate Bridge
Probably the only one of the bridges of NYC with such an intriguing significance, The Hell Gate Bridge is a steel through arch railroad bridge in New York City that connects Astoria, Queens, and Randalls and Wards Islands in Manhattan. The bride is also known as the New York Connecting Railroad Bridge or The East River Arch Bridge.
In the early 1900s, the bridge was envisioned to connect New York and the Pennsylvania Railroad with New England and the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad. Gustav Lindenthal oversaw the construction, and until the Bayonne Bridge opened in 1931, it was the world’s longest steel arch bridge!
The economic value of the Hell Gate Bridge even made it a target of the Nazi sabotage plan Operation Pastorius during WWII.
But now, looking on the brighter side, the Hell Gate Bridge is a bridge muse, having served as the primary inspiration for the design of Australia’s Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle, England. You might also connect it with Serpico or Queens Logic, a lesser-known 1991 film. Or maybe, you have read Under Hellgate Bridge by Michael Sergio!
11- High Bridge
While this may be the last bridge left on this list of bridges of NYC, trust us when we say this, it does not affect its status in the least!
The High Bridge, originally known as the Aqueduct Bridge, is New York City’s oldest standing bridge since the demolition of the King’s Bridge in 1917. It is a steel arch bridge that spans the Harlem River and links the New York City boroughs of the Bronx and Manhattan.
High Bridge was built in 1848, and its restoration began in the 1970s when all traffic was prohibited from the bridge. The bridge debuted in 1848 as part of the Croton Aqueduct and later reopened as a pedestrian walkway in 2015 after being shut for more than 45 years. On June 9, 2015, it was then that the bridge officially re-opened to pedestrians and cyclists.
Now, The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation operates and maintains the bridge.
The High Bridge Water Tower is located in Highbridge Park between West 173rd and 174th Streets, on top of the ridge on the Manhattan side of High Bridge. The Tower was built in 1866–1872 to assist in achieving the city’s ever-increasing requirements on the city’s water system.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission also marked the High Bridge Water Tower as a New York City landmark in 1967.
Well, these were the “11 Great Bridges of NYC“, and while there are many more of them in the city, we, unfortunately, could only accommodate these many.
Some of the other notable and well-known bridges of NYC include Kosciuszko Bridge, Henry Hudson Bridge, Alexander Hamilton Bridge, Washington Bridge, Roosevelt Island Bridge, Wards Island Bridge, and Bayonne Bridge.
Each of these bridges has immense significance and something unique about them! Do check them out in detail to enrich yourself with some more of New York City’s history and culture! There is also a plethora of tunnels down in the city’s depth, which offers interesting insights.
With this, we come to the end of this article, and it is time to bid you all adieu! We hope that this article helped you learn more about the 11 Great Bridges of NYC and provided you with some useful information! Let us know what you think in the comments section below!