During a previous visit to New York City, I told my sister I wanted to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. Not even a second passed when she threw a bigger than life “NO.”
“We, residents of the city, do not go to those places,” was her answer.
Last December, things ended up being a little bit different. Once again, I expressed my desire to cross the bridge. This time my sister agreed to go with me. After all, she had lived in the city more than 8 years and had never crossed the bridge by foot.
I am sure many of you reacted similarly to my sister when you read the title of this post.
The Brooklyn Bridge? What can be touristier than that?
Well, I am here to tell you there are tons of reasons to have this experience in New York City. Yes, the bridge itself is a marvel and the views are phenomenal but the areas around both ends of the bridge are full of history and beautiful architecture.
Let’s explore how to make the most of a visit to this historic landmark.
A great way to start this walk is by taking the train to the City Hall Station. That will put you in Manhattan’s Civic Center.
As the train station denotes, you are going to be able to admire the City Hall building once you get up to the surface. Notice the New York City flag has the same colors as the flag of The Netherlands. This is because the first settlers of the area were Dutch.
There are several other interesting buildings in the area. For example, the Manhattan Borough President’s Office is home to over 2,000 employees from a dozen municipal agencies in nearly 1 million square feet of office space. Actress Audrey Munson posed as the model for the statue at the top (she posed for more than 12 statues scattered throughout the city).
The Trump Building (40 Wall Street, it has Trump’s name but it is not owned by him) and a residential building designed by Frank Gerhy can be seen in the vicinity.
Then, it is time to start moving towards the bridge.
The Brooklyn Bridge is a hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge and is one of the oldest bridges of either type in the United States. Completed in 1883, it connects Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River (which can be seen as an estuary not a river). The towers are built of limestone, granite, and cement.
The bridge was designed by a German immigrant called John August Roebling. When performing surveys for the construction, Roebling had an accident where some of his toes where crushed. He went through an amputation and developed tetanus later. Because of this situation, he supervised the project from his apartment (which had a view of the construction grounds).
The interesting thing is that Roebling’s wife, Emily Warren, was the one who provided guidance to the engineers on site. A lot of times, she is not given credit for her work but she spent 11 years serving as her husband’s aid and ended up being an expert in mathematics, materials and cable construction.
Once at the bridge, great views of Lower Manhattan start to appear.
Even the Statue of Liberty can be observed.
On the other side, you have views of the Manhattan Bridge.
To me, the views get better and better once you start approaching the Brooklyn side.
Once on the other side of the river it is time to stroll around Downtown Brooklyn and around one of the most beautiful neighborhoods of the borough.
Brooklyn Heights, originally referred to as Brooklyn Village, has been a prominent area of Brooklyn since 1834. The neighborhood is noted for its low-rise architecture and its many brownstone rowhouses, most of them built prior to the Civil War. It also has an abundance of notable churches and other religious institutions.
I was in awe once I started to walk around the streets of this neighborhood. This is the New York I have never seen before. It felt worlds apart from the usual Manhattan architecture. And, did I mention the place was deserted? It was quiet and peaceful. I think this is a part of the city I needed to experience.
In addition, Brooklyn Heights is notorious because of its promenade. This is a more than 1,800 foot (550 m) long platform and pedestrian walkway built over an Interstate (connecting Brooklyn and Queens). The promenade offers excellent views of Lower Manhattan’s skyline and the New York Harbor. A must in my opinion!
A walk north on the promenade will take you to an area called DUMBO (stands for Down Under Manhattan and Brooklyn Underpasses). As the name implies, this is a beautiful area between the two bridges connecting the two boroughs.
The area has some nice places to eat and shop. I recommend stopping by the Main Street Park or the Brooklyn Bridge Park. You are going to get wonderful views of the bridge, the river and the skyscrapers on the other side.
And, just like that, our little tour of the Brooklyn Bridge has ended. The train to Manhattan or to other parts of Brooklyn can be taken near the Camden Plaza Park or the Bridge Park. Another option is to take the ferry that crosses the East River or to neighborhoods in the northern part of Brooklyn (Williamsburg or Greenpoint).
By the way, my sister loved our walk! I did too and am sure it will be an enriching experience for those who want to approach it in a different way.
- This walk takes two to three hours.
- The area is flat but wear comfortable shoes.
- I explored the area with a company called Free Tours by Foot. They offer a three hour tour several days a week (you tip at the end). My tour was excellent and I am more than happy to recommend them. If you want to give them a try, make sure you understand their terms and conditions.
- I did this walk during winter (it was 40 degrees Fahrenheit). Therefore, I consider this an all season walk if the sun is out (he will keep you warm).
Have you walked the Brooklyn Bridge? Have you explored the neighborhoods in both sides of the bridge?
Ready to Pin? Let’s do this!
I can relate to your sister’s initial reaction because I had said the same thing too when people suggested to me some touristy things that they wanted to do in Kuala Lumpur, LOL! I reckon I would go for a walk on the Brookly Bridge for the experience – thanks for sharing with us about the free walking tour – I love walking tours! Btw, do you remember the rom-com movie Kate & Leopold? 😉
Kat, great to know you have walked the bridge! I am sure you can relate to the experience. I have not seen the Kate & Leopold movie. Will need to see if it is available in Netflix.
Interesting post with lots of info.
Thanks Carol! Glad you found this post useful.
kid can doodle says
What a great walk — lovely photos and trivia too. Glad you enjoyed it. The promenade is one of my favorite places for the views too.
That promenade is awesome! Would not have found this place without the tour. Love what I discovered during this walk.
Sallie (FullTime-Life) says
Good for you — it made an interesting walk and I’m sure your sister was glad you ‘forced’ her to visit this part of her very own city.
Yes, my sister really like the walk and the tour. She is even thinking about doing tours on the side.
artmusedog and carol says
What a wonderful post and series of photos and excellent tour ~ love the Statue of Liberty ~ so meaningful and even more so now ~ thanks,
Wishing you a happy and peaceful week ~ ^_^
I was surprised of how well the Statue came out on the photo. I tried to capture it from Lower Manhattan but it didn’t come up well.
Corey with fifi + hop says
One of my favorite spots in the city. We used to live in Brooklyn Heights and it was my go-to. I really miss it. #mondayescapes
Wow! You have lived in a lot of super nice places. Glad this post reminds you of your old grounds.
Bryna | Dotted Line Travels says
I’m so jealous! When I went a couple of years ago, it was under construction and every photo I took had construction in it. A lot of the views from the bridge were blocked as well. Oh well, that just means that I have to find my way back!
I understand you since I have been to far places to discover them cover in scaffolding. It is kind of a bummer but like you said, an excuse to go back ;0)
Well by gum, I have just added a walk across the bridge to my bucket list. I was wondering how you saw so much and I would say that having a guide would be great.
I am glad you added this experience to your bucket list. I enjoy a lot thanks to the free tours offered by the company I mentioned.
Why was your sister so against walking the bridge 8 years ago? Was it not safe then? Looks absolutely amazing with fantastic views of the city! This is the historic portion of NY I’d love to see! #CityTripping
Well, I was visiting in winter and it was cold. After many years in the city, she is used to the cold and doesn’t mind anymore.
Rhonda Albom says
Hubby lived in Brooklyn for 15 years. I asked if he ever walked the Brooklyn Bridge and he asked “Why would I do that?”
See! I guess that is a local thing. My sister prefers to stay away from Manhattan.
Tania @ Larger Family Life says
Isn’t it funny how we’ll travel elsewhere but we don’t get to do most of the things on our own doorstep? Looks like a great ‘little’ walk! #MondayEscapes
Agree with you. This year I am revisiting places close to home. I haven’t been to some in years. Now, I see them in a different light.
Erin Gustafson | Oregon Girl Around the World says
I love the Brooklyn Bridge, but also have never walked across it – would love to do one day! Thanks for sharing all the detail – cheers from Copenhagen, Erin #CityTripping
Well, I think it is a great thing to do. Maybe the idea is not to cross it because you have to do it but because you have an itinerary or purpose that goes along with the walk.
Photo Cache says
Some locals miss the opportunity to enjoy the landmarks because they termed them “touristy”. Well they are touristy for a reason and they are worth the visit 🙂
I’d love to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. I didn’t get a chance before because of extreme heat and humidity.
I’m quite curious where 2017 will lead you 🙂
Hope you are able to walk the bridge one day. I already have tons of plans for the year.
I agree with you. Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge was a highlight of my trip to NYC last May. Only sorry I didn’t have more time to explore Brooklyn. It will be top of my list if I return to NYC one day.
Great to know that! I wanted to explore more of Brooklyn too but there is so much to see in the city. My sister and I only walked around for a couple of hours.
Ava Meena says
Okay, you’ve convinced me! I like your walking route, seems like a nice way to spend a few hours. #citytripping
Great you liked the walk! Yes, I think it is a fantastic way to spend some time.
Sarah Christie says
Oh I love this post, we have sailed into New York and crossed the Brooklyn bridge by car and the views were incredible but I want to walk it now I have seen your post, and the architecture in Brooklyn is breathtaking x
Thanks Sarah! I imagine it would be cool to cross the bridge by car. That is something I have to do next time.
Mini Travellers says
I think it is really funny how people don’t do the things that tourists want to do in their own city isn’t it. It looks like a wonderful thing to do to see things from another perspective #MondayEscapes
I am a bit guilty of doing that too. Sometimes, I prefer to skip certain areas of Los Angeles. I think it is because of the crowds. I do not do well among them.
Brooke of Passport Couture says
I thoroughly enjoyed walking on the Brooklyn Bridge, but I spent most of my time in Brooklyn Heights. I love that neighborhood, so I’m excited you chose to feature it. Thanks for sharing a great deal of history and information about both Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the bridge that connects them. It’s always intriguing to learn the story behind an iconic piece of architecture. #citytripping
Brooklyn Height is such a beautiful neighborhood. I am surprised you spent some time there. I really need to learn more about Brooklyn.
I’d love to do it one day:) great photos! #citytripping
Hope you do! Great thing to experience.
Daisy - DaisLikeThese says
This looks fab! We’re off to NYC later this year and I think we’ll be trying this. My kids are great walkers and love being outdoors so this will be perfect. Thanks for sharing! #mondayescapes
I am sure your kids are going to love this walk. I think this is a great thing to do with kids. Hope you guys have a good time in NYC.
wow! Big houses here :)Great photo series!
Big houses in Brooklyn! But this is not the norm in Manhattan.
I agree, it is a must do when visiting New York. It is so worth it! Brooklyn Bridge is my entry this week also?
Oh wow! So great! I have to read your blog post.
hello Ruth, have a nice day…
best regards from Italy
Thanks Antonio! Appreciate you stopping by.
Perfect time to walk and take photos 🙂 Lovely light
The day was gorgeous! I was so happy we had a perfect day for this walk.
Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders says
It might be touristy, but I love the Brooklyn Bridge and always love to walk it when we visit NYC! I just love to see all of the views of the city from the bridge, plus I think it’s so pretty too!
I agree with you. The bridge itself is very pretty. It has certain details that make it very unique. And the views, what can I say about them. I was fascinated by what I saw.
Sometimes the most attractive places of a place turn out to be the most tourist-y as well for a reason. I always enjoy visiting locations thought to be exclusively for tourists, that is when you “just get it” the charm of the city and all. Great pictures!
It is true Isabel. I enjoy visiting “touristy” places too. I want to see by myself what is all the buzz about that particular place. Sometimes I enjoy my visit and other times I feel like it was so so. But, I can say I have experience it.
I love the views looking at the bridge but I imagine being on the actual bridge to be rather loud and stressful, and windy perhaps? I guess I’d rather admire it from the ground 😉
Van, I am a chicken when it comes to heights and I didn’t have any problems crossing the bridge. I didn’t feel anxious at any moment. So, I think it is a walk that can be enjoyed by anyone.
New York. What a wonderful place. We have visited twice and I absolutely loved it. Wonderful photos thanks for sharing #MondayEscapes
Glad you enjoyed the photos. And, hope you are making plans to visit New York once again. There is always something to see there.
It looks like a great walk – you certainly got some nice photos. I almost did this last time I was in the city for a few days, but didn’t quite find time.
I get it Al. It is not easy to see New York City in a couple of days. I was there for almost two weeks and didn’t got much crossed from my list.
David McCullough wrote an amazing book about how this bridge was built…. this bridge was a HUGE architectural deal for america’s time – EVERYONE should walk across this bridge!!!
Thanks for the book recommendation. I know this was a great thing at the time. That is why I mentioned the involvement of the designer’s wife in the construction.
I absolutely agree with you! Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is one of my favorite things and I always tell people to do it.
Great to know that! I will like to walk it with friends and other family.
Ah – Brooklyn Bridge. This is one of my favorite things to do in NY. I love the walk from Manhattan to the Brooklyn to end up in DUMBO. I think I have this on every NY trip itinerary. #wanderfulwednesday
That is good! I can see why you do this every time. The views are incredible. Plus, they keep revitalizing the DUMBO area.
I lived in Brooklyn for most of my life before moving west to Colorado, so I often walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. You did a nice job showing many of the highlights, Ruth! It’s a good long walk (or bike ride) with such amazing views. I also often walked along Brooklyn Bridge Park. Did you see Jane’s Carousel there?
Pat, I am glad to hear about your adventures in the city. I didn’t find the walk that long. Maybe I like to walk! I saw the Carousel but it was closed the day I was around. So bad since it looked beautiful!
Bumble Bee Mum says
Hahaha.. Your sis’s reaction is like how I would react when visitors come to Singapore and say they want to eat at Newton hawker. “NO! We locals never eat there!” LOL…
I can totally understand why tourists have to walk the Brooklyn Bridge after reading your post. I definitely would want to do the same if I’m there – there’s so much to see! I thought the acronym DUMBO was hilarious. #CityTripping
The acronym is funny. I suspect the locals do not like it that much. The guide rolled his eyes when he was explaining the meaning. I have to google Newton Hawker ;0)
David | Travelsewhere says
Such an iconic spot and love both the view from there, but when you look up the wires like that. Feels like a must when I visit NY for the first time and Brooklyn Heights looks like a great place to admire the brownstones. Ah, one day! #TravelPhotoThursday
Hope one day you will make it to New York City. I am sure you will enjoy the city.
Sharon Wagner says
That would be something I would want to do as well. And I don’t have any sisters to stop me! Nice post.
Sharon, you killed me with that comment! Yes, you just have to do it!
You’ll never believe this (or maybe you will?), but my second time in NYC (my first time exploring without a tour group) I remember walking around NYC asking where DUMBO park was and no one we asked knew. Finally, someone made the connection and directed us to the Brooklyn Bridge. So, during that experience, we made the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge without even considering it as a tourist attraction. I haven’t walked the promenade, though; I’ll have to keep that in mind next time I’m in NYC.
So, the big question: Pizza? Brooklyn-style or Manhattan-style? 😉
I am not sure what is happening with New Yorkers but I think they speak a different language. I asked some things and they were not understanding me. I had to try different words. You know what? I didn’t have pizza while in New York. I had to take advantage of all the Puerto Rican food.
I used to feel a bit like your sister, but in recent years I’ve decided to give the more touristy things a chance, and I haven’t been disappointed! I regret that on my last visit I didn’t walk the bridge, as I chose to go shopping instead… Along with the Freedom Tower It’s on my list for next time! Great photos!! #farawayfiles
I feel like you too. I am looking into doing more “touristy” things in Los Angeles. I have found several tours I would like to take.
Saving this to my Pinterest board on NY for my trip in April. Great info and photos! I walked the bridge with my daughter years ago and I highly recommend this to everyone. At that time the subway was still disrupted due to 9/11 so it took some figuring to get back and forth, but I loved walking over this bridge. Both the views and the bridge are amazing!
Sharon, great to know you are planning a trip to the city. I will like to walk another bridge during a future visit. I can’t get enough of views.
Cathy (MummyTravels) says
I walked the bridge on my last visit – we’d started in Brooklyn with my husband’s cousin and had a wander through the streets before eating a huge amount (pizza and chocolate) so a walk back across the bridge seemed a great solution. I remember it was VERY cold though, although the views were amazing, and a lot longer than I had expected. Love the facts about the flag and the actress model, tours are always great for learning something like that. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping
Cathy, I thought I was going to freeze during my walk but I ended up sweating. So, it is nice when the sun is out! We didn’t have a good breakfast before the walk and ate very late. We almost pass out but I guess it was worth it.
jesh StG says
Beautiful architecture – it does not surprise me that it was built by a German, who are known for making sturdy and durable “things.” The bridge is beautiful but so are the regal looking buildings (to think that the Dutch -remember I’m one – sold it for a remote S. American country – the Dutch speak of it with a crooked smile, as the biggest colonial mistake of Holland ever!)
This time my travel photo is two hrs. NE of Sacarmento – a delighful artsy little town with about 10 galleries and a huge court house.
Oh Jesh, what a great comment. I guess it is a German specialty to build such durable things. And, yes, I am not sure how the Dutch lost Manhattan.
Trekking with Becky says
I’m ashamed of this now, but I have to admit that when I went to NYC for a weekend several years ago, crossing any of the bridges didn’t even dawn on me. 🙁 Thanks for the tour, and I’ll definitely be making this a priority when I make it back to NY one of these days.
Well, different things in the city appeal to different people. Now, you know for next time.
I wish I had enough time to walk the Brooklyn Bridge when I was in Manhattan. We were there for only a few days and I didn’t get to see all these beautiful landmarks. You had such a beautiful weather when you were there. #TheWeeklyPostcard
The good thing is that it didn’t snow when I was there. It was sunny most of the time. So, I took advantage of the good weather and crammed as much as possible.
Elizabeth(Wander Mum) says
What an awesome walk! Your picture of the Statue of Liberty is so clear! I did not realise you could see it so well from there. I think I made it halfway across Brooklyn Bridge…it’s quite far I seem to remember. I don’t recall getting great photos like yours though. I’m glad your sister gave into your request to go, was worth it!. #citytripping
I was surprised about seeing the Statue of Liberty so clear. I had no idea it was visible after the guide pointed it out. I am glad the picture cam out well.
I have been living in NYC the last 12 years and I love walking the Brooklyn Bridge. If it was closer to me, I would do it more often. I love the views! Glad you got to experience it. #TheWeeklyPostcard.
I didn’t know you live in NYC. In what borough? My sister lives in The Bronx and I stayed with her last December.
Rachel Heller says
When I was last in New York I walked over the Manhattan Bridge, which offers similarly breathtaking views, and takes you to the very hip DUMBO neighborhood. Next time I’m there, I’ll definitely do the Brooklyn Bridge!
Well, and I will like to walk the Manhattan Bridge next time. That would be great and imagine there are not as many people.
Lyn @ A Hole in my Shoe says
One day I’ll get to US and when I do I’d love to walk the Brooklyn Bridge.
That sounds like a good idea! Hope you can stop by and visit our great cities!
eileen g says
i used to live a few blocks from the Brooklyn side of the bridge and walked over it all the time, especially when i worked in Lower Manhattan. It’s architecturally quite unique, think because of the stone instead of steal towers. And I think it’s a very graceful bridge. If you watch Moonstruck you will recognize Brooklyn Heights. It was filmed around Cranberry and Willow streets. So you can tell your sister that real New Yorkers do walk, jog and bike over the bridge. and we are very impatient with tourists who walk in the bike lane.
Ahh, I have to see that movie. It is nice when you recognize places that appear in movies and films. I think my sister didn’t want to walk the bridge because she wasn’t used to the cold. Things changed when she got used tot he weather.
This looks so cool! I think I would be terrified. But what great views and shots of the surrounding area.
It is not scary at all! Believe me, I freak out about heights all the time. I felt very safe in here.
I’ve seen so many shots of people walking this bridge. Thanks for sharing some different perspectives and history behind the bridge #theweeklypostcard
Laura, I am glad you enjoyed the post. And, I am glad this post is different from what you have seen before.
Paula McInerney says
Great post about an experience everyone should do. I don’t care if it is touristy, because it is touristy for a very good reason
Paula, I agree, it is touristy for a reason. I do like touristy places. It is a matter of visiting them during at the correct time.
Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles) says
I just love these photos, Ruth. I’ve visited Manhattan a few times but have never walked over the bridge. I’d really like to and I’ve read a few novels set in Brooklyn Heights so I’m very keen to wander around that neighbourhood too. Thanks so much for sharing this on #FarawayFiles
Seems like Brooklyn Heights is popular in books, TV and movies. Wasn’t aware of this until I read all the comments in here.
Jim ~ ReflectionsEnroute says
We haven’t walked the Brooklyn Bridge yet. It is something we really want to do, but visiting in August means it is just a little too hot! Thanks for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration!
I haven’t been to New York in summer yet. For what I have heard, the heat is kind of extreme during that time.
That’s too funny. I actually feel the same about LA (Venice Beach and Santa Monica) It’s a love hate relationship with the city. I love to play tourist even though I hate the crowds. However, we always end up enjoying it. I’ve walked the Brooklyn Bridge all 3 times I’ve been there but have actually never made time to spend time in Brooklyn. I’ll have to one day!
I feel like that too. I do not visit touristy places in LA that often. Lately, I have been thinking about revising those places since I have not been in a long time.
Erin Gustafson | Oregon Girl Around the World says
I would love to do this Ruth! The Brooklyn Bridge is one of my faves – I had a photo of it hanging in my house before moving to Copenhagen. (Now I have Copenhagen bridges!) Thanks for sharing all the details – great post for #FarawayFiles, Erin
That is so cool! Will like to know more about bridges in Copenhagen.
Never done this walk. Next time in NYC, for sure. Thanks for sharing 🙂
I hope so! It is a good walk!
Agness of Fit Travelling says
Your post inspired me to walk this walk, Ruth!The beauty of the Brooklyn Bridge is stunning.
I am glad you got inspired! Comments like your keep me working hard on my stories and pictures.
You made a very convincing case for walking the Brooklyn Bridge. Will definitely want to check it out when we hit NYC next. Thanks!
Well, at least you know why it is popular and how you can make this walk more unique.
I have never done this walk and I really want to. The Brooklyn brownstone architecture is lovely and I hear the cafes and shopping are great too. The main reason is because I have usually visited in the middle of winter and I didn’t want to get too cold. But there you go Ruth, I was being a little precious! Thanks for sharing on #farawayfiles
I have to explore more of Brooklyn. We went to Williamsburg but couldn’t find the hip area. I think it is better to visit this place when the weather is warmer.
I’m not sure that you could walk the Brooklyn Bridge the last time I was in NYC. If I ever visit again, I will do this.
I hope you can do this Nancie!
Agness of Fit Travelling says
I love this post, Ruth. I love New York City and I am very glad that you have experienced the walk on the Brooklyn Bridge!
Mary-the boondocks blog says
Ruth what a fun post. I was a New Yorker for 30 years and did not know any of this stuff. The last time I was down there I remember looking at that crazy building (the fourth one) and wondering about the sanity of the architect. I don’t believe I have ever walked the Brooklyn Bridge but I have the George Washington which connects Manhattan and New Jersey. I remember years ago when the trains were on strike and everyone had to walk home the bridge was packed. Thanks for sharing all of this with us.
My wife and I traveled to NYC for the first time last Sept. and did just that! Enjoyed the walk over the bridge and then down on the promenade along the water and finally stopping for outstanding pizza at Grimaldi’s. 🙂
Great article! One point: It’s Cadman Plaza, not Camden Plaza!
My best friend and I walked the bridge last Sept. and came across a couple who had just been married at city hall. They were having some of their wedding photos taken. We joined in the fun and had our picture taken with the happy couple! My Dutch ancestors lived in Manhattan and another family in Brooklyn in the 1600’s. My 10th great grandfather was a blacksmith right under the bridge on the Manhattan side. The area is rich with history and I could go on and on about some little known areas to explore. On your next trip, take the airial tram to Roosevelt Island. You will love it. Also visit the Cortlandt Museum at the northern tip of Manhattan. Another gem that a lot of people don’t know about. I need to get back to NYC soon!
Kerala Packages says
Wow! The views look amazing! Would love to visit someday! Great post!
very nice pics
David Johnson says
I loved how you explained the history of the Brooklyn Bridge and that it connects Manhattan and Brooklyn. Personally, I think it would be cool to cross the bridge and the surrounding areas because you’d be able to see two different Burroughs of New York. I’ll have to look for bike tours or something that are centered on the bridge.