Everyone loves a good bridge, right? Majestic, strong and really quite useful, the right bridge in the right place can become more than just a piece of infrastructure, it can become an icon. Of course, the most iconic bridge in New York City has to be the Brooklyn Bridge, a Hollywood favourite and one of the oldest suspension bridges in the US, but all good things come in threes… and connecting Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn are two other bridges equally deserving of our attention. The Manhattan Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge. Quite the trio. Let’s get walking!
I happened to be closest to the Manhattan Bridge, so that’s where we started. I found my way on to the pedestrian bit (easier said than done) and we were off. It had pissed it down earlier, and the sun was just coming out, which was just what was needed for some good ol’ tourist snaps.
There’s some good old views from the approach ramp, looking down through Chinatown to the financial district.
And some nice art slash urban decay…
…then you emerge from the concrete jungle, and you’re out over the East River (almost) and BAM there’s the Brooklyn Bridge looking quite pretty and all and you do kind of get the feeling that you’ve just walked out of a forest and you sort of want to look around and make sure there’s no eagles about to swoop down and eat you (if you were a rabbit).
And the view of Lower Manhattan is none too shabby. It transpires that the best views of Brooklyn Bridge are from Manhattan Bridge, so I’ll hedge a bet that the best views of Manhattan Bridge are from Brooklyn Bridge? We shall find out on our way back!
So I arrived in Brooklyn and headed straight for the Brooklyn Bridge. Again, although it was very close by, actually getting oneself to the pedestrian on-ramp is a large faff, involving many near-misses with taxis, vans and the occasional lorry. I think I was doing it wrong. Anyway, I finally made it! Sure enough, there is the lovely Manhattan Bridge.
The walk was a nice one. I’d say this bridge is more pedestrian friendly. I snapped the quintessential tourist Brooklyn Bridge snap, framing those neo-gothic arches nicely in the center, getting all those lovely suspension cables and some nice Manhattan high-rises. That’s one for Instagram…
Anything with dem cables is good. Bonus points for our friends the Manhattan Bridge and the Empire State Building.
Super bonus points off the other side for the Statue of Liberty, a helicopter and a PIRATE SHIP (really had to abuse the optical and digital zoom on this one).
More stuff through cables!!
And then, as if by magic, we’re back in Manhattan! Before we tackle the Williamsburg Bridge I quite fancy some dinner.
Ok, so I went back to my hotel, which is close to the bridge, grabbed a pizza slice on the way, had a shower and put my feet up for an hour first. Now its dark, so should give a little something extra to this final bridge experience! It’s pretty quiet anyway.
And the night time city views were FABULOUS! You’ve got both the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges all lit up with their famous fairy lights, the half-built Freedom Tower glowing red, and the Williamsburg Bridge’s own fairy lights all making for a pretty damn epic scene.
Most of the pedestrian walkway is very suicide-friendly (or suicide-unfriendly depending on how you look at it…) and the resulting fence does sort of detract from the view.
But some sections are mesh-free, and coming back down the other side, you get great views of Midtown.
The Williamsburg Bridge is definitely the most ‘urban’ of the three bridges. The whole footpath, and most of the surrounding structure, is tagged and covered in graffiti, which makes for quite an interesting walk, and there’s not really anybody else on the bridge except joggers and cyclists. Not a tourist in sight (at last)!
And then we’re home!
So! My bridge-related recommendation for travellers is that, if you’re in NYC and you have enough time, do all three of the bridges. The Manhattan Bridge gives you stunning views of the Brooklyn Bridge and vice versa. The Brooklyn Bridge is a must-do for its neo-gothic charm and of course, those bloomin’ cables, and the Williamsburg Bridge probably gives the best all -round views of NYC, and, as a bonus, you get views of the other two thrown in for free!
(Also, just think of all the calories you get to burn doing all that walking. You can even have an extra slice of pizza for lunch)