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The aim of this post is to help you plan for walking across the Brooklyn Bridge – how to get to it, where to start, when to go, what else there is to do around the bridge. Be sure to consider our daily guided tour and our GPS-enabled audio tour of the Brooklyn Bridge.
HOW TO GET TO THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE?
That depends on whether you want to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan into Brooklyn or from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Both are lovely, but you do have a pretty spectacular skyline view if you choose to walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan.
You could also walk from the Manhattan side halfway across the bridge and then come back. Either way, you can best get to the bridge via subway.
However, if you are considering a hop-on-hop-off bus service, all major companies have stops near both entrances.
If you are arriving by foot, you can use the map further down in this post. Use this Google map for directions to the pedestrian walkway from your starting destination. The picture and map below will help you find the pedestrian promenade.
Arriving by subway
Map of the Entrance on the Manhattan Side
View of the Manhattan Entrance to Brooklyn Bridge
TIP: Depending on where you are coming from, you may have to cross a street or two to get to the entrance of the promenade. Simply follow the crowds onto the Bridge.
You will likely be using the subway if you decide to start at the Brooklyn side. Even if you are in Brooklyn and want to find your way to the Brooklyn Bridge, use this Google map for directions to the start of the walkway from your starting destination.
The Brooklyn Bridge Pedestrian Walkway and Bicycle Lane begin at Tillary Street and Adams Street. Finding the entrance to the pedestrian walkway is easy, but the intersection is very busy and there is almost constant road construction in the area, so be ready for that.
Depending on where you are coming from, there is a shorter alternative route, though there is a shortcut (see below).
Arriving by subway
You can get take these subways whose stops will be within walking distance of the entrance to the walkway leading to the bridge.
Map of Brooklyn Entrance to Brooklyn Bridge
View of the Brooklyn Entrance to Brooklyn Bridge (walkway is in the middle of the car lanes)
Short-Cut from theA or C High Street station
Rather than begin your walk at the above entrance (which is a longer walk before you actually get onto the bridge), we recommend this short-cut to get onto the bridge faster.
IMPORTANT NOTE: When you reach the top of the stairs, veer to the left into the pedestrian lane. Watch for bikes as you cross. They go fast and don’t like pedestrians!
THE BEST TIME TO CROSS THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE
Access to the Brooklyn Bridge is 24 hours per day and it is beautiful at any time of day, but sunset is particularly nice! This way, you can take in the views of both Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty while there is still light out and then watch as all the sights come to life with electric wonder. This goes for sunrise as well.
Be warned for whatever time of day you go, it can get chilly up there on the bridge. Plan ahead and bring a jacket or sweater (in fall, winter or spring) so that you can enjoy your walk! Be sure to check out our guide to New York City weather to help plan which pieces of clothing to bring.
It is also very safe to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge at night, as there are many tourists and commuters using the bridge until about 11 pm (23:00) at night.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO WALK OVER THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE?
New York commuters hurrying to work spend 25 minutes crossing the 1.3 miles (2.09 km) long bridge. But they aren’t taking pictures or admiring the panoramic view. So how much time should you give yourself as a newcomer to the Brooklyn Bridge?
There are few factors that will affect how long your walk will be. First, the bridge is a very popular tourist attraction. In the summer months, especially midday through sunset, the bridge can be packed with tourists. Add to that the many locals who walk to and from work over the bridge and it can a bit claustrophobic. In 2016, an average of 26,800 people crossed the bridge on any given weekend day.
Second, the pedestrian walkway is somewhat narrow and you can only walk as fast as the flow of the crowd. If you want to walk faster, it is possible to pass people, but be careful. To pass people you may have to walk in the bike lane for a moment. Always remember to look both ways when walking into the bike lane. Bicyclists will not hesitate to run you down!
Below are estimated times based on the average walking pace of about 3.1 miles per hour (5 km/h) on an off-season day. In the summer months, especially in the afternoons or sunset, add 10 minutes or more.
30 minutes – Walking at a steady pace, stopping for just a few pictures.35-45 minutes – Strolling casually, taking some pictures and admiring the view.
45-60 minutes – Your walk can take this long under the following circumstances:
TIPS WHEN TRAVELING WITH KIDS:
To keep your child engaged and energized, we recommend that at the Manhattan-side tower you stop for a few minutes. Around this tower where the walkway widens, there are a series of engraved plaques that detail the construction of the bridge step-by-step. Some kids (and adults!) find these instructive plaques interesting.
This is also a good time to take a break from walking and take pictures. At the Brooklyn-side tower, there are more plaques that identify the sights you can see along the Manhattan skyline.
TOURS OF THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE
There are many ways to tour the Brooklyn Bridge, particularly with us. However, you won’t be able to ride over the bridge on a bus tour, as all buses and coaches are banned. In other words, you have two options: walking and bike tours. There are more options than what you’ll find listed below, but this list will serve you well.
If you are considering the purchase of a New York Pass or the Explorer Pass, then you will be entitled to a free walking tour of the bridge. Read our post to determine if a discount tourist pass is for you.
GUIDED WALKING TOURS
Free Tours by Foot
First, we offer an anytime, GPS-enabled audio walking tour (in both English and Spanish versions).
We also offer two guided Brooklyn Bridge tours along with one self-guided option. Our standard tour of the bridge is offered daily, while the other includes a visit to the 9/11 Memorial and has limited availability. Each trek will take between 2-3 hours to complete, giving you plenty of time to cross over and learn all about this important landmark.
Our walking tours are pay-what-you-wish, meaning that you get to decide what your experience was worth. This is a great way to save money while discovering New York City on vacation.
Our amazing guests have seen fit to give us an overall rating of 5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor. An overwhelming majority of visitors have been impressed with our service. Several reviewers have mentioned their tour guides by name, thanking them for being friendly and providing a lot of information about NYC.
OTHER TOUR COMPANIES
This company offers a variety of tours across the Brooklyn Bridge. Although you won’t be able to name your own price, you can save 20% on tickets by using the promo code FTBF. Their walking tour runs for approximately 2 hours and covers a variety of subjects related to the history of New York. While on this trip, you’ll learn about sites such as Battery Park, the World Trade Center, Chinatown and Little Italy.
With an overall rating of 4 ½ out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor, it’s clear that most reviewers are very happy with this service. There are a few negative reviews, but they don’t indicate any serious problems with Brooklyn Bridge Sightseeing. Some guests have suggested that discovering NYC from this bridge is an entirely unique journey that every visitor should experience. Other customers were happy with the amount of exercise they got while on this tour. This trip was especially popular among families and friends.
This company offers a Brooklyn Bridge tour that is very similar to our pay-what-you-like tour but without a stop in Brooklyn Heights and 1 hour shorter in duration. If you can’t manage to reserve a spot on our trip across the bridge, this is an excellent alternative.
Over the course of 2 hours, you’ll enjoy incredible views of Manhattan while learning all about the history of this amazing landmark. At the end of this journey, you’ll have the opportunity to explore Dumbo, one of the most interesting neighborhoods in Brooklyn. This trek is provided in both English and Spanish.
Metro-North Railroad Card is required
Reviews on both TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide are very impressive, with most customers giving Inside Out Tours either a 4-star or 5-star rating (read some of the reviews). Many reviewers indicated that their tour guides were both helpful and informative. One visitor even noted that their guide included a stop for hot chocolate during a, particularly cold day. Several guests were impressed with the amount of information they learned about the Brooklyn Bridge. This trip was particularly well received by couples, families, and friends.
GUIDED BIKE TOURS
If walking across the Brooklyn Bridge doesn’t appeal to you, we recommend taking a bike tour instead. You’ll still get plenty of exercise and you’ll make pretty good time as well. This is a great way to see one of the most significant landmarks in the city while learning all about its history. Ticket prices are a bit more expensive, but a bike rental is included with each trip. Believe it or not, these tours typically last for up to 2 hours, giving you plenty of time to see not only the bridge but several additional sites in and around Brooklyn.
In addition to their walking tours, this company also provides bike tours across the Brooklyn Bridge. While riding on a Cannondale bicycle, you’ll enjoy wonderful views of the entire New York Harbor. Stops will be made to give you a chance to take some breathtaking photos. Travel from Manhattan’s southern tip to Brooklyn Heights and back while learning all about the history of this modern marvel. This trip will take approximately 2 hours to complete.
New York Pass/Explorer Pass holders can also save money on these tours
Brooklyn Bridge Sightseeing currently enjoys a 4 ½ star rating on TripAdvisor. Reviews for their bike tour are especially positive, with most guests showing a lot of admiration for their incredible tour guides. Several customers appreciated the opportunity to see more than just the bridge, as they made note of other notable locations visited on their trip. Even those without a lot of experience on bikes were very pleased with the ride. Couples and families were the most likely to leave a positive review.
New York Tourist Passes
Purchasers of the New York Pass and Explorer or Go Passes are also entitled to a free bike tour of the Brooklyn Bridge. Read our post to determine if a discount tourist pass is for you.
AUDIO TOUR AND THINGS TO SEE (SELF-GUIDED TOUR)
This is a self-guided tour of a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and begins at City Hall Park, on the Manhattan side of the bridge and ends on the Brooklyn side of the Bridge.
We also have an anytime GPS-enabled audio tour (in both English and Spanish versions) of the bridge, which starts from the Manhattan side and is more extensive than the written version below. You can hear a sample of the tour below.
Estimated time to finish tour: 1-2 hours, depending on how much a photographer you are.
Total Distance across the bridge: 1 mile (1.6 km)
Safety Note: The path on the right is for pedestrians. The one on the left is for bicycles. The bicyclists drive fast and often don’t stop. Please be careful.
This is an interactive map. To enlarge it, click on the small box in the upper right-hand corner.
(Point A) – Tour Starting Point Click here for directions to the starting point from anywhere in the city.
Manhattan Municipal Building(1914)
This beaux-arts beauty was the last and possibly the most glorious example of NYC’s part in the City Beautiful Movement. Designed to meet the increased administrative, which had grown into five boroughs in 1898 following the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge, this 40 story building is today one of the largest government buildings in the world.
See that shiny statute up at the top? She is called Civic Fame: 20 feet tall, copper-skinned and hollow, she stands barefoot, wearing a flowing dress and laureled crown to represent glory. She holds a five-pointed crown to represent the five boroughs of NYC in her left hand. Be sure to also get a look at her and the building beneath her feet when you are on the bridge.
Frank Gehry’s ‘New York’
This is ‘starchitect” Frank Gehry’s first skyscraper. This is one of the tallest residential buildings in the world, containing just about 900 units, all for rent, which is very unusual for a high rise in NYC. This gleaming 76 story tower, “clad in a rumpled stainless-steel skin”, according to a review in the NY Times was the tallest residential structure in the Western Hemisphere, when it opened in February 2011. The tower stands on a six-story public elementary school. Be sure to check out our Midtown, Central Park, Harlem tours where you can get a look at some more captivating architecture.
Old New York Times Building
Before moving to Longacre Square (soon to be renamed Times Square), the New York Times, A.K.A. the Old Gray Lady, was headquartered here in this building on News Paper Row. The paper was here from 1889-1903. At 13 stories, this Romanesque Revival building now houses classrooms for Pace University. Out front is a statue of American founding father Benjamin Franklin, himself an owner of a printing press, a fitting statue for Newspaper Row.
The Potter Building – Had the finest fireproofing technology of the time, featuring cast-iron columns,(Lower Manhattan VNYT-SoHo Cast Iron District) and thick brick walls. Its terra-cotta ornamentation at the top inspired Mr. Orlando B. Potter to start his own terra cotta company on Long Island. This old classic was converted into an apartment building in 1979-81.
Okay, now it’s time to hit the bridge. The first few minutes will bring you through a rather uninspiring set of buildings. After a couple minutes on the walkway, you should reach a section where there are vehicle access roads allowing cars and trucks to enter or exit the Brooklyn Bridge from underneath.
(Point B) – Woolworth Building
In the image above, the Woolworth Building is the white, wedding cake style skyscraper. Seen frequently in movies, it was the tallest building in the world from 1913-1929. This neo-gothic building was a central figure in the great skyscraper race of the first few decades of the 20th Century and was called the “Cathedral of Commerce.” It had an observation deck until 1941 and high-speed elevators, which were state of the art at the time. It was sold by the Woolworth Company in 1998 for $155 million. A significant portion of the tenants is residents. Read our blog post on the Woolworth Building and learn how you can visit its impressive gold leafed vaulted ceilings in its lobby.
One World Trade Center – The Freedom Tower
Towering over the Woolworth Building is New York City’s (and North America’s) largest skyscraper. Standing at 1,776 ft. (541 meters). The height was chosen to honor the year of American Independence, hence the original name, the Freedom Tower. It is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and 6th tallest in the world. It is now open and you can go to the top of it for amazing views. See our post on getting tickets to Freedom Tower Observatory Tickets and Tours.
Now, continue walking toward the Manhattan tower until you reach the point where the great cables that are suspended from the tower reach the promenade that you are walking on.
In front of you are the four main cables holding up the bridge platforms. Attached to this thin rope was a piece of 8 gauge wire. These wires are Each of the four cables are made up of 6,289 wires, each thinner in diameter than a human hair. If these thin wires were attached end to end would measure more than 3,500 miles (5600 km).
Did you know that the Brooklyn Bridge was built with defective wire? At one point, a politically connected man named Haight was given the contract to supply the wire. Haight went ahead and supplied bad wire. By the time it was determined that poor quality wire had been used, it was too late to replace it. Fortunately, since the bridge had originally been intended to be six times stronger than necessary, it was decided that even if it was now only four times stronger, that that would be sufficient. The bridge is standing the test of time.
(Point C) – First, look on your left side.
Alfred E. Smith Houses & FDR Drive
As you approach the Manhattan tower, the housing complex to your left, with the red arrow in the image above (12 buildings, housing almost 6000 people) is named after four-time New York Gov. Al Smith. Smith served as governor of New York from 1919-1920 and 1923-1929 and was the first Catholic ever to win a presidential nomination. You’ll also notice a highway (yellow arrow) running up and down the Manhattan waterfront. Officially named the Franklin D Roosevelt E. River Dr, but better known as the FDR drive, designed by Robert Moses, the city’s planning commissioner in the 1st half of the 20th century, a little over 9 1/2 miles long, it covers the entire length of Manhattan along the East River.
Manhattan Bridge (Green Arrow)
The Manhattan Bridge, like the Brooklyn Bridge, is a suspension bridge. It connects lower Manhattan, near Chinatown, with downtown Brooklyn. The main span is 1470 feet (448 m) and the suspension cables are 3, 224 ft. (983 m) long. The total length is 6855 feet or 2089 m. The bridge opened in 1909 and it’s the first suspension bridge to employ ‘deflection theory’.
The bridge was off-limits to pedestrians for 40 years, until the summer of 2001 when the pedestrian walkway was re-opened. The entrance on the Manhattan side features a rather impressive arch and colonnade. The designers of the bridge also built the main New York Public Library, at 5th and 42nd St. The Manhattan Bridge was featured in many films, including Once Upon a Time in America and King Kong (2005). The bridge carries subways, cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
Now look to your right (south).
40 Wall Street – Trump Building
You now have a clear view of Lower Manhattan’s Financial District. The red arrow is pointing to the Trump Building at 40 Wall Street. The height of the great skyscraper race featured this 927 ft (283 m) skyscraper in a competition with the Chrysler Building for title of world’s tallest building. At the time, 1930, the Woolworth Building was the tallest. You can get good looks at this building, the one with the green top, on the right as you make your way toward the Manhattan Tower. The Chrysler Building can be seen as you move past the Manhattan Tower. For just a few days, 40 Wall Street was the tallest building in the world before the Chrysler Building and its spire exceeded it. We love taking our guests and stopping right here to take a look over at the magnificent skyline.
Continue walking toward the Manhattan Tower. As you get closer, look closely toward the top and you will see an engraving of the date 1875, the year this tower was completed.
Once you have arrived at the Manhattan Tower you will definitely want to spend some time up here. Take note of the tablets, the earlier one dedicated to John and Washington Roebling and the later one, placed there during the 1948-54 reconstruction.
The granite towers, the first parts of the bridge to be constructed, Rise 276 feet above the East River. When these towers were completed, only Trinity Church’s spire stood taller. Beneath the towers, at the bottom of the East River, are gigantic bottomless wooden boxes called caissons, which were sunk into the river bed and inflated with compressed air. Once the caissons were sunk, the men working on the bridge would enter the caissons and dig for bedrock. During this phase of construction, many men, including Washington Roebling, became very ill with what is called ‘the bends’ or caisson’s disease. Read more about caisson’s disease here.
South Street Seaport
To your right (south) you’ll see the historic South Street Seaport. In 1625, the Dutch West India Company opened its first port here. Later, from 1797 to the mid-1800’s, the ‘Port of NY’ was the largest maritime trade area in the country. Many buildings in this area were burned down during the great fire of 1835 but were rebuilt in the 1850’s. The Seaport stopped functioning in the 1930’s, was converted into a museum in 1967 and upgraded into a ‘festival marketplace’ in 1982. It was severely damaged during Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 and the renovation process continues.
To see a guide to the new South Street Seaport and the fun things you can do there, see our post, South Street Seaport in New York City | A Self-Guided Tour.
Now continue on toward the Brooklyn Tower. Stop about halfway between the two towers.
(Stop E) – Vehicle Roadway
Below is a six-lane highway. The roadway, which is 135 feet (41 m) above the average tide-water level, permitting vessels weighing under 1,000 tons to cross the bridge under it, was completed. The elevated roadway, just as John Roebling had envisioned, was finished not long after that. The designated bike lane was added in the early 1970’s and is said to be one of the first dedicated bike lanes in the country. Elevated Trains and trolley cars stopped running in the 1940’s. The roadway was widened to accommodate more automobiles during the 1948-1954 reconstruction.
The East River
The East River below you (it’s actually a tidal strait) runs for 16 miles (26 km) between Brooklyn and Manhattan, under the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg Bridges and it has an average depth of about 30 feet (9 m). It is the strait that links the Harlem River, the Long Island Sound, and the New York Harbor. The part of the strait that separates Manhattan from Brooklyn was one of the most central and significant channels in the world during the first 300 years of New York City’s history. Due to hundreds of years of industrialization, this river is still not safe for a swim. However, as of mid-2007, it’s safer than it is been in over 30 years.
Off to your right (south) lies a small island in the New York Harbor (see red arrow). The Dutch West India Company hired English explorer, Henry Hudson, to find a route to China. Instead, he wound up on what was called ‘Nut Island.’ Thus, began the history of New Netherlands. For more information on Governor’s Island and how to get there, read our blog post by clicking here.
People always want to know if anyone has ever jumped off the bridge. The answer is yes, unfortunately. It’s said that every 15 days someone jumps to their death from the Brooklyn Bridge. Perhaps the most well-known jump is a jump that actually never happened. Steve Brodie (December 25, 1861 – January 31, 1901) born in New York City was reported to have jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge and survived on July 23, 1886. This was big news and helped Brodie’s acting career and his saloon business. It was later discovered that he staged the jump in order to gain publicity. Well, it worked! Brodie’s legend lived on after his death. Many films were made which referenced him, including On the Bowery(1933), in which George Raft played Brodie. “Brodie”— became a popular slang term as in to “do a Brodie”— meaning take a chance or a great risk, the language, meaning to take a great risk.
Now continue walking toward the Brooklyn tower until you reach the point where the cables emerge once again from under the pedestrian walkway.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
For many years the site of commerce, shipping, an entry point for immigrants, and then a center for artists and activists, there are now signs dotted throughout the Brooklyn Bridge Park that provide details of this compelling history. Currently, the park hosts many free events including music and movies and is filled with local fauna, concessions including the Brooklyn Ice-Cream Factory, public restrooms, a ferry terminal, as well as some eye-popping views of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge.
TIP: For a list of locations where you can fantastic views of the New York Skyline, click here.
Brooklyn Heights Promenade
World-famous for its views of the Manhattan skyline, the promenade is the ideal place for doing just that – promenading. One the most romantic spots in the city, it’s been the destination for thousands of dates, anniversaries and marriage proposals – keep an eye out and you may very well see one in action. The Brooklyn Heights Promenade opened in 1950 and has appeared in countless photos, television shows and movies, most notably Annie Hall and Moonstruck. You could continue your walk with our self-guided Brooklyn Heights tour.
DUMBO Art Galleries
Once a thriving manufacturing and industrial district, economic change sapped the area of its economic strength, leaving large and vacant factory lofts that became attractive to artists starved for decent workspaces, who were also just starving in general. The name ‘Dumbo’ stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass and was conceived in 1978 by resident artists as a way to make the area sound unattractive to prospective buyers. It didn’t work, and today the area is awash with technology companies, luxury residences, top eateries and designer boutiques. There are also over twenty galleries dotted around the place, with highlights including Farmani Gallery, A.I.R Gallery, Smack Mellon and the Dumbo Arts Center.
NEARBY ATTRACTIONS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BRIDGE
On the Manhattan side: You have Lower Manhattan, with a wealth of history to be explored. St, Paul’s Chapel, City Hall, Wall Street and much more are within walking distance of the Brooklyn Bridge. Try one of our free Lower Manhattan walking tours! You can follow up your tour with a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
On the Brooklyn side: You can explore the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge Park, eat some delicious pizza at Grimaldi’s or walk the Promenade. If you want to combine your walk across the bridge with a Brooklyn Tour, check out our Brooklyn Heights Tour or our 3 hour Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO Tour! See our calendar for dates/times of the tours. There is also an East River Ferry to get back to Manhattan that is the same price as a subway and much more pleasant! See our detailed post on the East River Ferry.
Be sure to read our definitive guide “Things to Do in NYC“!
Some FAQs and Fun Facts about the Brooklyn Bridge
A: The Brooklyn Bridge is 5,989 ft. long (or 1825 meters) from one end to the other, but the river span is 1,595 feet (486 meters). The pedestrian walkway across the bridge is slightly over 1.1 miles, or 1.6 kilometers long.
A Few More Things!!
Hotels Near The Brooklyn Bridge