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!