Extending for 1.3 miles (2 kilometers) across New York City’s East River, this 19th-century bridge sees constant foot, bike, and car traffic thanks to commuters and sightseers alike. After a construction beset by tragedies—at least 20 people died during the building process—this steel-wire suspension bridge, then the world’s largest, finally opened to the public in 1883. Today crossing the Brooklyn Bridge is an essential New York experience. Visitors come in droves to admire the bridge’s dramatic neo-Gothic towers and the stellar views of Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn waterfront.
The storied history of the Brooklyn Bridge and the spectacular views it affords make it a common inclusion on guided walking tours and bike tours of the city. For a whole new perspective on the bridge, take a sightseeing cruise or even a helicopter flight during which you will buzz over the iconic structure as well as other well-known NYC landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty.
Things to Know Before You Go
- In cooler months, wear an extra layer or two, as it can be colder and windier on the bridge than on street level.
- The bridge’s pedestrian path is narrow; be careful not to veer into the adjacent bike lane.
- Crossing the bridge on foot takes around 25 minutes, or longer if you pause for photographs.
How to Get There
From Manhattan, you can access the bridge’s walkway from Park Row and Centre Street, opposite City Hall Park. The closest subway stations are Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall (4, 5, and 6 trains) and Chambers Street (J and Z). On the Brooklyn side, access the pedestrian walkway from Tillary Street and Adams Street in Brooklyn Heights. Here the nearest subway stations are Jay Street–MetroTech (A, C, and F), Court Street (N and R), and Borough Hall (2, 3, 4, and 5).
When to Get There
Avoid the morning and evening rush hours: The bridge is congested with commuters. It’s quieter early on weekend mornings (before 10am) and at night (after 8pm), when the bridge’s neo-Gothic towers are dramatically illuminated.
The Fascinating History of the Brooklyn Bridge
Though the Brooklyn Bridge was designed by John Roebling in the 1860s, Roebling never got to see his creation realized, having died following an accident in 1869. After his death, his son, Washington Roebling, and his wife, Emily, oversaw the construction. On May 30, 1883, just a few days after its opening, the bridge was the site of a tragic stampede that killed 12 pedestrians. In 1884, in an effort to allay concerns regarding the structural integrity of the bridge, circus owner P.T. Barnum had a troupe of 21 elephants, including the famous Jumbo, cross it.