The Bridges of Manhattan County (and Beyond)

New York City is home to more than 50 bridges – though we seldom think about them, they really are the lifeline of the city. King’s Bridge, New York’s first crossing, was built in 1693, over Spuyten Duyvil Creek between Manhattan and the Bronx. It was demolished in 1917, so High Bridge, built in 1848, is the longest-standing bridge in New York. Today, NYC bridges carry all types of traffic, including vehicular, bicycle, pedestrian, and subway traffic. Here are some profiles of the most interesting NYC’s bridges, along with a list of all of NYC’s bridges as well:
Photo courtesy of Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

The Bronx
Constructed: 1899 – 1901
The City Island Bridge connects the mainland with City Island, Bronx, a small enclave known for its small-town feel. The bridge cost $200,000 to construct at the end of the 19th century, and the current reconstruction is set to cost around $115 million. Over the past decade, there has been much controversy over the design for the new City Island Bridge. The former NYC transportation commissioner pushed for an elaborate, H-shaped tower, while the majority of City Island residents wanted something more modest (and cost-efficient). Last year, a change in leadership brought a new proposal that was much more in line with what City Islanders had in mind. A temporary bridge has been constructed to manage traffic while the main bridge is being built, though the temporary structure has been a source of controversy as well. The new City Island Bridge is set to be complete in 2017.
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Photo courtesy of

The Bronx
Constructed: 1908 – 1909
The Pelham Bridge carries pedestrians and four lanes of vehicular traffic across the Hutchinson River, and opens for water traffic quite frequently – the NYC Department of Transportation calls Pelham bridge “the busiest of all the City owned draw bridges.” The first bridge at the site was built in 1815, but was destroyed by a storm one year later. Eighteen years later, the City built another bridge at the site, which was replaced in 1908 and reconstructed in 1985. Pelham Bridge celebrated its centennial in 2008.
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Photo courtesy of

Constructed: 1888
Back when Brooklyn was still a city independent from New York, the Carroll Street Bridge was constructed to allow horse-drawn carriages to travel across the Gowanus Canal. The Carroll Street Bridge is one of five bridges to span the Gowanus Canal, and is the oldest of four retractile bridges in the United States. Retractile bridges, rather than having two eaves lift to allow boats to pass, retract diagonally onto the shore. This distinctive cobblestone-and-wooden-planking bridge draws almost as many tourists as the Brooklyn bridge, and achieved landmark status in 1987.
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Photo courtesy

Constructed: 1931
Crossing the English Kills at the end of Newton Creek, the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge was built in 1931 and rehabilitated in 1976. It was upgraded again in 1992 and 2006, with modifications including an upgraded mechanical and electrical system, and the replacement of the deck, bridge rail, and fenders. This drawbridge is nestled within the industrial section of East Williamsburg, between Vandervoort and Varick avenues. A bike lane was recently proposed for Metropolitan Avenue, and would extend over the bridge and connect existing bike routes in Queens and Williamsburg. Given that over 225 cyclists traverse the bridge each day, the bike lane would certainly be a welcome improvement.
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Photo courtesy of

Constructed: 1949 – 1951
Also known as the 103rd Street Footbridge, this pedestrian bridge crosses the Harlem river to connect East Harlem with Wards Island, which has 432.69 acres of parkland including athletic fields, a driving range, greenways, playgrounds, and picnic areas (though in the past it was home to psychiatric hospitals, a police station, and several homeless shelters). Due to Wards Island’s sordid past, the bridge is still closed during overnight hours and the winter months, a policy leftover from the 1980s and 1990s, when East Harlem residents worried about patients crossing over from the Manhattan State Psychiatric Center.
Little Neck Bridge circa 1900 - Photo courtesy of

Little Neck Bridge circa 1900 – Photo courtesy of

Constructed: 1931
Before the current Little Neck Bridge was constructed, the first bridge to cross Alley Creek was built in 1824. At the time, it carried Flushing and North Hempstead Turnpike and was a toll road. In fact, many of the roads on Long Island were toll roads in the 1800s, as they were owned by corporations who made quite a bit of money by taxing Long Islanders. The current bridge at Little Neck carries Northern Boulevard and was built in 1931. Travelers need not pay a toll to travel along Northern Boulevard, and pedestrians can traverse the bridge via the sidewalks on either side.
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Constructed: 1923 – 1927
When it was completed in 1927, the Roosevelt Avenue bridge was the largest trunnion drawbridge in the world. Originally, the city wanted to build a standard fixed bridge, but at the time, the War Department had jurisdiction over all navigable waterways in the country and mandated that the Flushing River remain open to water traffic. The city considered building a tunnel, but the cost estimates reached $2,500,000 more than the city was willing to pay. The War Department suggested a drawbridge, and the city reluctantly went forward. The final cost of the bridge was more than the estimated cost of a tunnel under the river, even when adjusted for inflation, and the need to accommodate water traffic did not last long after construction was completed. In January 2010, the NYC Department of Transportation announced long-overdue plans to rehabilitate the bridge, widening the sidewalks from 8 to 10 feet and adding bike lanes. The project was originally set to be completed in 2015, but has yet to begin.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Staten Island
Constructed: 1931
The Bayonne Bridge is the fifth-longest steel arch bridge in the world, and was the longest in the world at the time of its completion in 1931. It connects Bayonne, New Jersey with Staten Island, one of three bridges to connect New Jersey with Staten Island. The walkway provides the only access by foot of bicycle from Staten Island to New Jersey, but is closed for reconstruction until 2017.
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Photo courtesy of

Manhattan – Brooklyn
Constructed: 1869 – 1883
Arguably NYC’s most iconic bridge, this hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge is one of the oldest bridges of either type in the United States. It crosses the East River, connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Bridge was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1972. Aside from appearing in countless movies and television shows, the Brooklyn Bridge is responsible for one of the most common sayings in the US: “If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.” Apparently, 20th-century conmen George C. Parker and William McCloundy scammed unwitting tourists into buying the Brooklyn Bridge.
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Photo courtesy of

Manhattan – Bronx
Constructed: 1837 – 1848
High Bridge, formerly known as the Aqueduct Bridge, is the oldest bridge in New York City. As its former name indicates, it opened as an aqueduct in 1848 as part of the Croton Aqueduct, which carried water from the Croton River, 10 miles to the North, to the burgeoning city of New York. At the end of 1949, the bridge was no longer used to carry water and functioned mainly as pedestrian walkway, until it closed in the 1970s when high crime rates and fiscal crisis meant the city could no longer maintain many city services. In 2006, the Department of Parks and Recreation announced that the bridge would be reopened after a $20 million renovation project. The bridge reopened to cyclists and pedestrians on June 9, 2015.
Here is a list of all the bridges in the NYC area, along with links to more information about them (when available):
Bronx Bridges
East 153rd Street Bridge
Eastchester Bridge
Hutchinson River Parkway Bridge
Unionport Bridge, Bronx
Westchester Avenue Bridge
Brooklyn Bridges
Cropsey Avenue Bridge
Mill Basin Bridge
Stillwell Avenue Bridge, Brooklyn
Manhattan Bridges
Queens Bridges
Flushing Bridge
Hawtree Creek Bridge
Hook Creek Bridge
Staten Island Bridges
Fresh Kills Bridge
Inter-Borough Bridges
145th Street Bridge, Manhattan-Bronx
Broadway Bridge, Manhattan-Bronx
Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, Bronx-Queens
Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan-Brooklyn
Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, Manhattan-Queens
Grand Street Bridge, Brooklyn-Queens
Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, Brooklyn-Queens
Henry Hudson Bridge, Manhattan-Bronx
High Bridge, Manhattan-Bronx
Kosciuszko Bridge, Brooklyn-Queens
Macombs Dam Bridge, Manhattan-Bronx
Madison Avenue Bridge, Manhattan-Bronx
Manhattan Bridge, Manhattan-Brooklyn
Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, Brooklyn-Queens
Pulaski Bridge, Brooklyn-Queens
Robert F. Kennedy Bridge Manhattan-Queens-Bronx
Third Avenue Bridge, Manhattan-Bronx
Throgs Neck Bridge, Bronx-Queens
University Heights Bridge, Manhattan-Bronx, Harlem River
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Staten Island-Brooklyn
Washington Bridge, Manhattan-Bronx
Williamsburg Bridge, Manhattan-Brooklyn, East River
Willis Avenue Bridge, Manhattan-Bronx, Harlem River

Categories: Design

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