The first time I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, in New York City, was by accident. I was wandering around Brooklyn and happened to stumbled upon the entrance to the causeway to the bridge. The bridge takes you from Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan, crossing the East River. Even though I was wearing flip flops, I excitedly headed off.
My first surprise was that the walkway is not along the sides of the bridge but ABOVE the bridge, above the six lanes of cars. In fact, it goes straight down the middle of the bridge. The advantage of this is that most of the time you don’t even feel like you are way up high.
One thing I would recommend is to walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan, the views are spectacular. There is so much to see the trek across will go by quickly. Be sure to stop at the two bridge towers and enjoy the skyline. If you look a little further to your left you can also see the Statue of Liberty.
The suspension bridge is 5,592 feet long, just over a mile. The average person spends around an hour walking across. There are numerous places to take amazing photos.
The steel wire cables end to end run over 14,000 miles. This bridge was the first to use steel wire to create the cables in the 1800s. There are four main cables that are 15 ¾ inches wide. Each cable is comprised of thousands of steel wires twisted together.
Before you go across the bridge (if you are in Brooklyn) you may want to wander down to the water to the park. If you have kids you will enjoy taking them to Jane’s Carousel or there are several good places to get lunch or an ice cream. Also another great photo op location.
As a National Historic Landmark the bridge is well worth taking the time to cross by foot or if you are like my friend who can’t walk long distances you can ride a bike across pretty easily. The bridge has separate walking and biking paths.
Manhattan: If you need to start on the Manhattan side the closet subway station to the bridge is the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall. Subway lines 4, 5, and 6 stop there. Chambers station is also close by with subway lines J and Z. One more option not quite as close is City Hall, which is serviced by subway lines N, R, and W.
Brooklyn: The more preferable way is to start in Brooklyn, which is a little trickier because you don’t visually see where to go. Starting on the Brooklyn side the closest subway stations are High Street/Brooklyn Bridge, it is a stop on the A and C lines. The second closest is York Street Subway, for the F train. I usually start from the High Street/Brooklyn Bridge stop. Right at Prospect St and the Brooklyn Bridge, there is a stairway that will take you up to the bridge. For me, this is my favorite way to get there. (Be sure to look it up on a map.)
Also, check out our blog about riding the subways in New York City – subway tips.
- There are two vaults built into the Brooklyn Bridge one at each end, that were used as wine cellars. They were rented to local companies to help offset the over-budget costs of the bridge.
- The bridge was built over a span of 14 years between 1869 and ending in 1883. It opened to the public on May 24, 1883, making the bridge over 135 years old.
- Shortly after the bridge opened the locals became worried about the safety of the bridge, that it could not support people, so they had Barnum (circus) walk his 21 elephants, 7 camels, and 10 dromedaries (also a type of camel) cross the bridge. Then people stopped worrying.
- In 2006, workers found a hidden fallout shelter, full of blankets, crackers, and water. Neither the shelter nor the wine cellars are open to the public. But you can see where they found the shelter. It is near the base of the suspension bridge where the cables attach on the Manhattan side, at the corner of Pearl Street and Dover Street.
Next time you go to New York City be sure to include the Brooklyn Bridge and it is free to walk across!