Brooklyn Bridge

New York's iconic 19th century bridge is an awesome industrial achievement, and a symbol of American optimism.

TravelCurious Tip

Take a walk above the traffic on the bridge's dedicated pedestrian walkway: for the most scenic views, start in Brooklyn and walk to Manhattan. You'll have a direct view towards the famous Manhattan skyline the entire way.

A bridge of suspense

Linking Manhattan to Brooklyn across the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge was the first steel-wire suspension bridge in the world. Since its opening in 1883 it has been a proud icon of New York City, and it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964.

Its construction was a remarkable feat, and caused more than its fair share of tragedy along the way. The bridge was designed by civil engineer John Augustus Roebling. While surveying the site for the bridge, his foot was crushed when a ferry pinned it against a piling. After his toes were amputated he developed a tetanus infection which swiftly resulted in his death, not long after he had placed his 32-year-old son Washington Roebling in charge.

Washington built the bridge's two towers by floating a pair of huge inverted wooden boxes called caissons on the East River: the stone towers were gradually built on top of them until they sank to the riverbed. Compressed air was then pumped into the caissons, and workers entered the space to dig away the sediment until the caissons sank to the bedrock. The weight of the bridge still rests today upon 15 feet of southern yellow pine wood beneath the sediment.

Caissons and catastrophes

During this process many workers began to suffer from decompression sickness (commonly called 'the bends'); Washington himself suffered a paralysing injury due to the sickness, and was confined to his apartment for the next 11 years of the project. In a remarkable partnership, he directed the engineers through his wife Emily, who developed an accomplished knowledge of high-level mathematics and engineering. Before the official opening, Emily was the first person to cross the bridge by carriage. She carried a rooster as a sign of victory.

The bridge's anchorages were built to incorporate a number of passageways and compartments; the city rented out the large vaults at the Manhattan end to help fund the bridge's construction, some of which were used to store wine as they were always at a stable 16 °C. When New York magazine visited one of these cellars in 1978 over a century later, it discovered a 'fading inscription' on the wall: 'Who loveth not wine, women and song, he remaineth a fool his whole life long.'

At its completion, the bridge became a symbol of the optimism of the new century, causing marvel at the achievements of modern technology. It continues today as a beacon of strength and unity in the Big Apple - and offers fantastic views as you walk, drive, or cycle its length.

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Related Tours

A View from Brooklyn Heights
Connecting Long Island and Manhattan since 1883, Brooklyn Bridge has become a globally recognized symbol of New York. Cross it in the company of your personal guide before a private trip around Brooklyn.

  • Step across the glorious Brooklyn Bridge 
  • Enjoy the illustrious past and colorful present of Brooklyn Heights
  • See DUMBO in urban form
Majestic Brooklyn Bridge

Your tour begins at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge entrance. Here you will cross the world famous landmark, during which there will be ample time to discuss the fascinating history of the bridge and to photograph Manhattan, Brooklyn and New York Harbor. Accompanied by your expert local guide, you will hear about the origins of the ferry, travel across the East River, learn about the politics behind the building of the bridge, the complications around its construction,  as well as the stories of designers and immigrant builders who made the project happen.

Trendy Brooklyn Heights

You will then have the pleasure of strolling along the tree-lined streets of Brooklyn Heights, known as the finest of all the residential neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Filled with colorful people and beautiful architecture, you will explore the myriad streets and alleys of America’s first ‘suburb’. While you walk, you will learn about George Washington’s stand against British General Howe, listen to the plentiful stories of engineering and military defeats, as well as the history of the anti-slavery preachers and remarkable authors of the area. You will also pay a visit to the Brooklyn Promenade, for absolutely unbeatable views of Manhattan. 


From the promenade, you will walk down to the ferry landing area and explore a small part of DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Formerly a manufacturing and industrial district, the area suffered from economic decline and eventually fell into disrepair. Fortunately, due to a renewed appreciation for the architecture of the area and sizable investment, the once vacant factory lofts have now become very attractive destinations for artists and creatives alike. DUMBO has been transformed into a lively Brooklyn neighborhood, boasting many art galleries and high-end boutiques, pizzerias, a scenic waterfront and characterful cobblestone streets lined with historical architecture. 


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