A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is a must for any visitor to New York City. It is one of New York’s oldest and recognised structures, dating back to 1883. Its towering brick pillars stand proudly above the River Hudson, connected by steel wires which together have created an icon of an international city. The bridge has been a popular tourist attraction since it was opened over 100 years ago and today walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is a highlight in any New York City itinerary.
There are many ways to see the Brooklyn Bridge, but I’ve found that the best way is by walking across the structure. Although it’s not an option if you’re afraid of heights, it’s must for anyone looking to get great photos of New York city.
This DIY walking tour begins at the Clark Street Subway Station in Brooklyn Heights, crosses the Brooklyn Bridge and finishes at the World Trade Centre memorial in downtown Manhattan. The walk is only 2 miles but give yourself plenty of time as the Brooklyn Bridge can get very busy. You’ll also want plenty of time to take in the views and take photographs.
So what are you waiting for, hop on the subway and let’s get walking!
A Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge – Getting Started
Jump on the subway to Clark Street in Brooklyn Heights which is served by the 2 and 3 trains. Exit the subway station and walk up Clark Street towards the Hudson river which is 2-3 blocks away. You will know when you arrive at the river when you are greeted by this amazing view!
Brooklyn Heights has some of the best views of Lower Manhattan and on clear days you can see out toward Elis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The skyscrapers look so small from this distance; it’s hard to appreciate that these are among the tallest buildings in the world.
There are some great public spaces here including the Brooklyn Bridge Park. If you have some extra time I’d recommend having a look around. The park sits on the river front and the piers have been transformed into recreational spaces.
One of the piers even includes an outdoor gym. Although I’m not one to recommend exercise facilities, you’d be hard pushed to find a gym with a better view.
From here, head right towards the bridge, keeping the Hudson river to your left.
Before walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, head down to the foot of the first pillar close to the waterside. It’s a little touristy here but it’s a great spot for photos and there are plenty of cafes to grab a coffee. This is also the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge Park.
This area of Brooklyn heights is great for seeing classic New York architecture and brownstones. Keep an eye out for these as you are passing through.
Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge
To walk the Brooklyn Bridge, you need to head slightly inland. The bridge sits so high above the river that the entry point is a couple of blocks from the waterside. Don’t worry though, the entrance is well signposted and there are usually other visitors you can follow.
Once you have joined the Bridge, it’s an easy walk towards Manhattan island! Here’s what to look out for!
Brooklyn Bridge gets busy!
The Brooklyn end of the bridge is quieter, but as you head towards Manhattan the bridge begins to get busy. This is because most visitors start from Manhattan, turning back before reaching Brooklyn. For most of you journey the visitor numbers won’t be a problem but it can get crowded as there’s not a lot of space here.
The high number of visitors here makes it very attractive to street artists and vendors which can make a crowded space even busier.
For a quieter journey, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge as early as possible after sunrise. This way you’ll avoid most of the crowding and have a much quieter journey.
You can grab some great photos whilst crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. You don’t even need great weather for this; the bridge can look fantastic under a moody black and white filter.
Great photography comes at a cost and it’s no secret that this is a great place for budding photographers. Sometimes it can be hard to move for visitors taking selfies. I even saw visitors climbing onto edges to get a perfect shot for social media (not to mention the girl I saw licking the bridge mid-selfie, I really hope she’d had her tetanus vaccination).
My tip would be to take photos where the traffic is quieter and do what you can to stay out the way of others. Again, early mornings are the best time for photography as there will be fewer humans to impact your shots.
Believe it or not, the bridge isn’t just a tourist attraction (!) and is still used to carry traffic. As a walking visitor, you will share the upper pathway with cyclists, most of these being locals travelling into Manhattan.
The pathway clearly marks the sides for cyclists and pedestrians, but with such large crowds of pedestrians these lines can get a little blurred. This can often lead to conflict with the bicycle traffic.
This is difficult to avoid but wherever you can stick to the pedestrian zones, watch out for cyclists and leave plenty of space wherever possible.
The end of the Bridge
On the Manhattan side, the exit to the Brooklyn Bridge is quite far inland. In fact you can look down on parts of Manhattan from this point on the bridge. The footpath from the bridge will bring you close to City Hall Park.
So you’ve walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, What now?
There are a couple of options for you once you’ve walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and there is much to do in Lower Manhattan
World Trade Centre Memorial and 9/11 Museum
The space surrounding the World Trade Centre is now a fitting memorial for those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of 2001.
The footprints of the buildings have been used to create a sinking water feature with the names of those who perished engraved around the edges. The park offers a space of calm and respite amidst the bustling financial district.
Look out for the roses on the names in the memorial. This means that it would have been this person’s birthday.
To find out more about what happened on September 11 2001, visit the 9/11 museum. The museum sits beneath the water fountains and again the exhibits are in the footprints of the building.
The museum gives a history of the site as well as a detailed insight into the terror attacks. It is filled with items salvaged from the wreckage as well as testimonials from those who were there on the day.
It’s a sombre reminder of everything that happened in this palce, albeit emotionally charged at times.
Grab Food at the Malthouse
Hidden on 9 Maiden Lane between Broadway and Nassau, I found this restaurant which was perfect for brunch or afternoon dining. The brunch menu and the burgers were particularly good plus there’s an extensive whiskey menu.
Thank you for reading this post. I hope you are feeling inspired to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge on your next visit to New York City.
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