Bridges are so much more than a means to get from place A to place B. New York features a number of bridges that are perfect for pedestrians looking to experience beautiful architecture and engineering. Whether designated primarily for traffic or pedestrians, the following bridges are all strikingly beautiful.
The Brooklyn Bridge is a suspension bridge that spans the East River, connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn. Construction started in 1869 under the design of John Augustus Roebling, who injured his foot on site and died afterward from a tetanus infection. His son, Washington Roebling, succeeded his father, but when affected by decompression sickness, Washington’s wife, Emily Warren Roebling, served as a go-between for her husband and the workers. The bridge opened on May 24, 1883. It is a neo-Gothic icon, with stone towers and pointed archways. The bridge became a National Historic Landmark in 1964. Pedestrians rejoice because easy access allows beautiful views of New York, the East River, and the bridge itself.
Designed by Leon Moisseiff, the Manhattan Bridge opened on December 31, 1909. It is a suspension bridge that crosses the East River and connects lower Manhattan with downtown Brooklyn. To celebrate the beauty of the city, the Manhattan Bridge Archway was completed in 1915; it was declared a landmark in 1975. Pedestrians can walk on the lower level of the bridge, and there is a beautiful view of the Brooklyn Bridge.
The High Bridge was originally an aqueduct that opened in 1848, and this Aqueduct Bridge was constructed as a stone arch bridge. It crossed the Harlem River and connected Manhattan and the Bronx. The bridge was dramatically changed in 1928 when five stone arches were demolished and replaced by a steel arch. This accounts for the unique look of the bridge today, which has stone arches on the Bronx side and a steel arch on the Manhattan side. The bridge stopped shuttling water in 1949, and it was shut down for restoration in the 1970s. It reopened in 2015 as a pedestrian walkway.
Designed by Othmar Ammann and Cass Gilbert, the Bayonne Bridge opened on November 15, 1931. It stretches across the Kill Van Kull and connects Staten Island to Bayonne, New Jersey. In 1981, the bridge was deemed a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Its design is unique: it looks like a parabola, but it’s actually made up of 40 different linear segments. The pedestrian walkway is currently under reconstruction, but it is scheduled to reopen in 2017.
Painted a deep red, the Hell Gate Bridge draws the eye with its smooth arch between two sturdy towers. The engineering precision behind the bridge is noteworthy: the bridge needed to be adjusted only half of an inch after the final piece was set. Construction was overseen by Gustav Lindenthal, and it opened in 1917. The bridge spans the Hell Gate between Astoria and Randalls Island.
The Bow Bridge is the longest bridge in Central Park, linking the Ramble to Cherry Hill by crossing the Lake. The bridge was designed by Jacob Wrey Mould and Calvert Vaux, and it was completed in 1862. In 2008, craftsmen recreated eight urns that had existed on the original bridge and disappeared in the 1920s; these urns are now flanking the bridge’s walkway. The bridge is a low, span arch that is decorated with volutes and arabesques.
Officially renamed for former New York City mayor Ed Koch in 2011, the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge connects Long Island City to Manhattan, crossing the East River and Roosevelt Island. The bridge opened on March 30, 1909, and it was originally known as the Blackwell’s Island Bridge. In 2009, the bridge was celebrated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Walk across the bridge and check out the amazing architectural work above you.
The Gapstow Bridge stretches across the Pond at 59th Street. Originally, the bridge at the site was designed by Jacob Wrey Mould in 1874, but it was replaced because it was worn down. The current model was designed by Howard and Caudwell in 1896, and it is an intricate conglomerate of stone. Stand at the center of the bridge and experience a breathtaking view of the city, including the Plaza Hotel, the park, the Victorian Gardens and the ice rink. By Sean Scarisbrick