Brooklyn Bridge: History, Facts, Parking, How To Get There

There are many famous bridges in NYC, some are in Brooklyn, but only one is named after the borough – Brooklyn Bridge. That’s because it’s one of the oldest suspension or hybrid cable-stayed bridges in the United States.

Brooklyn Bridge at night

Brooklyn Bridge at night

People literally sacrificed their lives to build it. After completion, the structure was popular and surpassed several existing counterparts. One of the most beautiful bridges in the world, this engineering marvel is an awe-inspiring sight.

Today, it draws the attention of over a million tourists annually. It has a mesmerizing view of the East River, watercrafts below, and the stunning New York skyline.

At night, the lit-up bridge brightens the environment. You can see the glow of city buildings in the distance and the reflection of lights on the water. No wonder Brooklyn Bridge is not only one of the Must-See Attractions in NYC, but also one of the most photographed landmarks in the world.

In this post, we’ll show you different juicy tidbits about Brooklyn Bridge, spanning from the history to helpful tips when you visit.

How to Get to Brooklyn Bridge

Aerial view of the bridge

Aerial view of the bridge

Depending on where you’re coming from and what end you’re at, there are different routes to Brooklyn Bridge.

From the Brooklyn end, take the subway and stop at the following stations, then walk to the bridge:

  • Borough Hall Station
  • Jay Street or Metrotech Station
  • Court Street Station

The Manhattan end is a short walk from Lower Manhattan. You can also take the subway to City Hall, Park Place, or Chamber Street.

Parking Near the Bridge

There is no parking on the Brooklyn Bridge. The closest parking lot is at South Street Seaport in Manhattan or Pier 6 Parking Lot, which is located at Atlantic Avenue.

Restaurants Near Brooklyn Bridge

Shake Shack

For a quick bite, stop by Shake Shack. It’s a chain of fast-food burger restaurants founded in 2004. The restaurant started as a hot dog cart in New York City’s Madison Square Park.

Located at 1 Old Fulton Street, NY 11201, Shake Shack entices customers with burgers, frozen custard, and other fast-food classics.

Junior’s Restaurant and Bakery

Junior’s is one of the many great restaurants near the bridge. Located at 386 Flatbush Avenue Ext, it’s a family-owned business that has been serving delicious food since 1950.

Juniors Restaurant is best known for its cheesecake, which has been voted the best in New York City.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria

For riveting pizza, try Grimaldis. One of the selected spots to try Brooklyn style pizza, it’s right under the Brooklyn Bridge at 1 Front Street. This pizzeria was founded in 1990 and is known for its coal-fired pizzas.

Rosa Mexicano

If you’re in the mood for Mexican food, check out Rosa Mexicano at 9 E 18th Street, NY 10003. The restaurant serves fabulous modern Mexican cuisine.

River Café

For a truly unique dining experience, head to the River Café at 1 Water Street. The fine-dining restaurant has a beautiful setting right on the water, under the Brooklyn Bridge. The menu features American cuisine with a French influence.

More about River Café

Walking Across the Bridge

People walking their dogs

People walking their dogs

The Brooklyn Bridge is about 1.1 miles (1.8 kilometers) long, so it takes about 20 to 30 minutes to walk across at a leisurely pace. If you’re taking photos, the time increases to about an hour.

Walking a bit faster or trotting reduces the crossing time to 15 minutes. And if you want to get a workout, you could run across the bridge in about 5 to 10 minutes.

These time frames are only possible when there’s no pedestrian traffic. To achieve them, take your walk early in the morning. The bridge can get crowded with human traffic, increasing how long it will take you to cross.

Physical Capacity

A bird view of the bridge

A bird view of the bridge

Dimensions

The total length of the Brooklyn Bridge is 6016 feet (1834 meters), and its longest span is 1,595 feet (486 meters). It is 272 feet or 83 meters high and 85 feet or 26 meters wide. The two suspension towers are 278 feet tall.

Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension structure for 20 years until Williamsburg Bridge was built.

How Much Weight the Bridge can Hold

The bridge can hold a total load of 16,700 short tons and 18,700 long tons. That’s 36.8 and 41.2 million pounds respectively. It’s between 6 and 7 million delivery trucks!

The structure was designed to accommodate pedestrians, trolleys, horse-drawn carriages, and trains.

History

In the late 1800s, there was congested ferry traffic on the East River that connected Brooklyn and Manhattan. John Augustus Roebling, A German-American civil engineer, proposed the idea of a bridge running across the river in 1852.

He was made the Chief Engineer of the construction in May 1867. He designed the Brooklyn Bridge and commenced the project in 1869.

On June 28 of the same year, a boat collided with the dock John was surveying and crushed his toe. He died in July. Washington Roebling, his son, took over the father’s unfinished business and the construction began on January 2, 1870.

Sealed, pressurized caissons – large, watertight chambers – were used to hold back the water and sink piers into the riverbed. Unfortunately, Washington became paralyzed from decompression sickness in 1872 due to frequently working in the caissons.

Unrelented, he used a spyglass to oversee the construction from afar. His wife, Emily Warren Roebling, acted as an intermediary at first. She then studied engineering, Math, and Science and directly supervised the project until its completion in 1883.

The structure was the first of its kind to use steel cables. People called it the New York and Brooklyn Bridge or the East River Bridge until 1915 when it officially acquired its present name.

It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964, an NYC landmark in 1967, and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1972.

The First Person to Cross

Pedestrians and riders crossing Brooklyn Bridge

Pedestrians and riders crossing Brooklyn Bridge

Emily Roebling took the first ride over Brooklyn bridge before its grand opening on May 24, 1883. While riding a carriage, she carried a rooster on her lap to signify victory in completing the construction 14 years after it commenced.

After her, more than 150,000 people crossed in less than 24 hours. Today, an average of 150,000 vehicles, 30,000 pedestrians, and 3,000 cyclists cross the bridge daily.

10 Facts about Brooklyn Bridge

Cars driving across on a snowy day

Cars driving across on a snowy day

1. The Bridge opened to fanfare

The president of the United States Chester Arthur and the New York governor Grover Cleveland attended the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge. Politicians and troops crossed while a military band played.

The bridge opened to hour-long fireworks, cannon fire shot in the air, receptions, and speeches.

2. Several people died and sustained injuries

Besides John and Washington A. Roebling, about 100 workers died or sustained lifelong illnesses while building Brooklyn Bridge.

20 to 30 people died when they fell off the towers, were hit by debris, or were afflicted by decompression disease. The others sustained injuries or became ill after.

A few days after its opening, the rumor of a collapse caused a stampede on the bridge. 12 people were crushed while others were bloodied.

3. It has been featured in media and entertainment

Brooklyn Bridge has been featured in countless movies, TV shows, poems, and paintings.

It’s a favorite spot for filmmakers. Some of the famous films it’s been featured in include Godzilla (2014), Spider-Man 2 (2004), I Am Legend (2007), and Men in Black 3 (2012).

TV shows that have shot scenes on the bridge include Friends, Seinfeld, Sex and the City, and 30 Rock.

It has also been the subject of numerous works of art. The most famous painting is probably “Brooklyn Bridge” by American artist Georgia O’Keeffe. The structure has also been the inspiration for poems by Walt Whitman and Hart Crane.

4. It attracted the greatest showman and daredevils

After the stampede that killed 12 people, commuters felt the Brooklyn Bridge was unsafe.

To ease their fears, the city officials contacted P. T. Barnum – a famous circus showman – to take elephants across. On May 17, 1884, twenty-one elephants crossed the bridge to prove its sturdiness.

Afterward, several people jumped from the bridge, flew planes under it, and bungee jumped from the towers.

5. Bribery, con men, and low-quality materials were involved

Funding wasn’t approved for the Brooklyn Bridge design by John Roebling until bribery was involved. William Tweed, also known as Boss Tweed, bribed municipal council members with $65,000 so they could fund the project.

John went on to accumulate building materials. However, a contractor named J. Lloyd Haigh snuck low-quality wires in. Unfortunately, Washington Roebling only discovered the faulty materials after using them for the construction.

Extra security and safety measures were employed to mitigate the problem. The builders used more wires than required to make the bridge stronger.

But things didn’t stop there. George C. Parker made money from the bridge. As a con man, he sold Brooklyn Bridge and other properties over and over again to several people until he was caught and arrested.

6. Brooklyn Bridge once charged a toll

Brooklyn Bridge charged a toll for crossing at the time of its opening. Pedestrians paid 1 penny, and a horse and rider paid 5 cents. If you rode on a horse and wagon, you had a toll of 10 cents. Commuters also forked out 2 cents for sheep and 5 cents for cows.

Due to immense pressure, the government removed the pedestrian toll in 1891 and the roadway toll in 1911. As of 2022, the bridge charges no toll. It’s free to walk, ride, or drive through.

7. Compartments in the bridge were used for storage and shelter

Brooklyn Bridge’s anchorage has several compartments and vaults that were rented out to find the construction project. At a constant temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit, they were excellent for storing wine and liquor.

The vaults are about 50 feet high. A. Smith & Co. Productions paid a rent of $500 to use them but renting stopped during World War I. The compartments also acted as bomb shelters for storing food, water, and medical supplies during the cold war.

8. It was the location of the presidential mansion

The land under the Manhattan end of the bridge was the former location of the US presidential mansion. George Washington lived there for 10 months after becoming the president. The house was later demolished in 1856.

9. The world’s fastest bird nests there

Diving at 390 km/hr, Peregrine falcons are the world’s fastest animal. Brooklyn Bridge has become their nesting ground as about 16 pairs live there.

10. Brooklyn wasn’t part of New York during the bridge’s construction

During the construction of the bridge, Brooklyn wasn’t part of New York City. That was why it was called the New York and Brooklyn Bridge after its opening. In 1898, the city merged with NYC.

Online and Offline Location

Address/Map:

Support Phone numbers:

  • Non-emergency services: 311
  • Rehabilitation project: 347-647-0876
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park: 718-222-9939

Support email address:

Website: https://www1.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/infrastructure/brooklyn-bridge.shtml

Facebook: https://web.facebook.com/BrooklynBridgeNYC/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brooklynbridgeig/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/brooklynbridgny

FAQs

A side view of the Brooklyn bridge from the ground level.

A side view of the Brooklyn bridge from the ground level.

What color is the bridge?

There has been debates about the original color of the Brooklyn Bridge. Some said it was Rawlings Red, a pigment gotten from iron oxide. Rawlings Red might have been an undercoat, though.

After careful research in 1972, it was determined that the color was Brooklyn Bridge Tan. The structure’s renovation includes a fresh paint job that lasted about six years.

What type of bridge is the Brooklyn Bridge?

It is a suspension bridge. That means the Brooklyn Bridge has two granite towers that support steel cables, which in turn support the road deck.

Why was the bridge built?

It was built to connect the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. The structure was also built to help relieve traffic congestion on other bridges connecting the two towns at the time, such as the Williamsburg Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge.

How old is the Brooklyn Bridge?

Completed in 1883, the bridge is 139 years old. It has been around for almost a century and a half.

How much did the bridge cost?

The Brooklyn Bridge cost $15.5 million, including $4 million for the land. In today’s money, that would be over $320 million!

The Brooklyn Bridge crosses which body of water in New York?

It crosses the East River in NYC. This waterbody is a tidal strait that separates the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. It is not actually a river, but rather a saltwater estuary.

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