Choosing just 14 famous bridges in New York isn’t easy, as the Big Apple has more than 750 bridges alone. It’s a piece of land accessed mostly by bridges and tunnels, with some 2000 of them connected to the surrounding landmasses.
But some are more famous than others. Even some not-so-famous ones have an interesting story, serving as important historical sites in New York. So, with great difficulty, this article explores 14 famous bridges in New York, albeit briefly. Next time you visit here, be sure to check out at least a few of these.
Why You Should Visit These 14 Famous Bridges in New York
Table of Contents
- Why You Should Visit These 14 Famous Bridges in New York
- 1. Bronx-Whitestone Bridge
- 2. George Washington Bridge
- 3. Brooklyn Bridge
- 4. Kosciuszko Bridge
- 5. Hell Gate Bridge
- 6. Henry Hudson Bridge
- 7. The High Bridge
- 8. Manhattan Bridge
- 9. Pulaski Bridge
- 10. Queensboro Bridge
- 11. Robert F Kennedy Bridge
- 12. Throgs Neck Bridge
- 13. Verrazano Narrows Bridge
- 14. Williamsburg Bridge
- Final Thoughts
To make your time in New York just a bit more special, here are the top bridges you need to visit when in the city.
1. Bronx-Whitestone Bridge
There is a fascinating backstory to this bridge. Among other things, it took an extraordinary amount of time to build due to problems with bureaucracy and red tape. From the time it was announced as a project, it took 31 years to begin construction.
By RoySmith – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Whitestone runs between The Bronx and Queens. The bridge eventually started construction in 1936 and opened in 1939. The bridge stretches for an impressive 3,700 feet over the East River.
2. George Washington Bridge
Named after the first US president, The George Washington Bridge extends across the Hudson, heading west towards New Jersey. The bridge was completed in 1931 and is notable for offering breathtaking views for pedestrians. Some of these mesmerizing sights include Fort Lee Historical Park and The Palisade Interstate Park.
By Jim Harper, CC BY-SA 2.5,
This also happens to be the most used vehicle bridge in the world. Its 14 traffic lanes can accommodate up to 250 000 vehicles every day.
3. Brooklyn Bridge
Arguably, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most famous in the world by name. It is as synonymous with New York as perhaps the Empire State building. The bridge opened in 1883 and remains today as one of the best walking experiences for tourists.
By Suiseiseki – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
It’s also a heavy motor thoroughfare, with six lanes stretching across the East River, connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn. It is a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, and it’s best for walking during the peak morning hours for a true New York experience.
4. Kosciuszko Bridge
Tadeusz Kosciuszko was a Polish military figure who fought on the side of the Americans against the British during the Revolutionary War. The current bridge in operation is relatively new (renovated in 2017), but it has been here for some time in another form.
By Edom31 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Originally, the Kosciuszko Bridge (built in 1939) was a cable bridge that ran from Brooklyn to Queens. Although initially just a vehicle bridge, the modern version has bikes and pedestrians in mind and is known for its colorful nighttime lighting.
5. Hell Gate Bridge
Hell Gate is the name given to a particular passage of water that became notorious for its dangerous navigation, and the bridge took on the name in 1916. Hell Gate is not a conventional traffic bridge, as its sole use is for passenger and freight trains.
By Rhododendrites – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
It is interesting, nonetheless, as it has developed its own legacy. The design was somewhat influential, inspiring other iconic bridges. Among those is the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the largest steel arch bridge in the world. This title was once held by the Hell gate bridge, too.
You can get a stunning view of the bridge from Astoria park or Wards Island Park.
6. Henry Hudson Bridge
Opening in 1936, Henry Hudson connects Inwood (the Bronx) and Manhattan. The bridge earns its name after early English explorer Henry Hudson, who is said to have explored the area in the early 1600s.
By Jag9889 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
The bridge reaches across Spuyten Duyvil Creek. It was the longest plate girder arch and fixed arch bridge in the world when it opened. It is one of a few bridges that employs no-stop electronic tolling and is the first to use the system as a trial.
Also interesting is the decision to split the levels for direction. The top level is for those going north, while the lower level travels south.
7. The High Bridge
The High Bridge is the oldest in operation in New York City. It was actually closed at one point for almost 40 years but reopened eventually in 2015.
Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=210144
The original bridge was originally a part of an aqueduct system in 1854. Its design, naturally, makes it a wonderful photo opportunity for tourists. The original aqueduct pipe is still there, but the footbridge now sits above it.
The bridge was closed in the 1970s due to low usage and local pollution. But a lobby eventually convinced authorities to refurbish it in 2009 and reopen the bridge in 2015.
8. Manhattan Bridge
Don’t confuse the Manhattan Bridge for the Brooklyn bridge. The two are fairly close together, and both connect Manhattan and Brooklyn. Both also happen to be suspension bridges, but believe me when I say they are still very different.
By Kidfly182 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
This one, opened in 1909, connects Chinatown in Brooklyn and DUMBO (the Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass district). It may not be noticeable to the casual eye, but the Manhattan Bridge is slightly longer than the Brooklyn bridge.
It’s also more crowded, despite its seven car lanes and bicycle, pedestrian, and subway channels. On estimate, around half a million people cross the bridge daily.
9. Pulaski Bridge
Some say Pulaski name appropriately references the strong Polish community in the Greenpoint area of Brooklyn. Like Kosciuszko, Pulaski earns its name after a Polish military man who served against the British during the Revolutionary War.
By Jim.henderson – Own work, Public Domain,
The drawbridge design accommodates six lanes of traffic and is usually the halfway point of the New York Marathon. The bridge opened in 1954 and connected the aforementioned Greenpoint with Long Island City in Queens.
10. Queensboro Bridge
Extended between Manhattan and Queens, this cantilever bridge has a distinctive design comprising two levels of traffic. It also happens to pass over Roosevelt island, which sits in the East River.
By Simsala111 – Own work, CC0,
Upon its opening in 1909, the bridge had the longest cantilever spans. This is partly what makes it a popular spot for movies and TV shows and a top icon for photographers to shoot.
11. Robert F Kennedy Bridge
In 2008, The Triborough Bridge officially became the Robert F Kennedy Bridge, named after the popular president who was assassinated in 1963. The bridge links three districts: Queens, The Bronx, and Manhattan.
By Rublov – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
It’s able to do this because it is technically three bridges that are linked. A vertical-lift bridge, the Truss bridge, and the East River Suspension bridge connect Manhattan to Randall’s Island, Bronx Kill, and Astoria, respectively.
Interesting side notes: Randall’s Island used to be two separate islands until they were joined by a landfill.
12. Throgs Neck Bridge
Throgs Neck Bridge serves a similar route to Bronx-Whitestone. They differ, though, as Whitestone can carry heavy vehicles that Throgs Neck cannot. Therefore, it is considered a relief bridge in service of Bronx-Whitestone.
By Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York – Flickr: View Bronx tower_Throgs Neck, CC BY 2.0,
That said, the six-lane thoroughfare between The Bronx and Queens does serve a significant number of people. It received its name after John Throckmorton, a settler during colonial times. He was instrumental in developing a settlement in what is the modern-day Bronx. Interestingly, the settlement didn’t last very long, coming into conflict with nearby Native Americans.
It was George Washington who actually coined the term “Frog’s Neck” years later, possibly misspelling “Frockes Neck,” as it had been called earlier by a mapmaker. Over the years, it evolved into Throgs Neck.
13. Verrazano Narrows Bridge
If you’re looking for a record holder, the Verrazano is currently the longest suspension bridge in the USA. The bridge is named after Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano and impressively links Brooklyn to Staten Island.
By Ajay Suresh from New York, NY, USA – StatenIsland-13, CC BY 2.0,
At the time of its opening, this was also the longest such bridge in the world, forming part of the Interstate. This is one important and impressive bridge. It is especially remarkable to see at night when lit up. On the downside, this is a toll bridge and sometimes shuts down on extreme weather days.
On another note, da Verrazzano was the first known European explorer to navigate that area of New York Bay.
14. Williamsburg Bridge
This bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it opened in 1903. It held this title until 1924. It’s generally known as the third bridge connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn in terms of fame.
By Praneeth Thalla – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
The bridge is toll-free and, like the other two mentioned, is a popular walk for tourists. Subway lines, eight traffic lanes, and a walkway all feature and assist thousands of commuters in crossing the East River daily.
An interesting addendum: The Williamsburg Bridge was one of the last horse and carriage bridges in New York. These lanes were removed from the bridge in the 1920s as automobiles became more commonplace.
Make a point of visiting at least one of these fine bridges on your next visit to NYC. If nothing else, bridges seem to tell a story that feeds directly into the history of their location.
Whether it’s named after someone or provides you with a wonderful view, they serve as engineering’s testament to human civilization and history.
I covered all of the costs involved in the writing of this post on famous bridges in new york. However, this post includes affiliate links. That means if you click through and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.
Interested in more bridges elsewhere? Read about these fantastic bridges in France. And you might enjoy reading my articles about: