Unless otherwise stated; all photos in this post are my own and are against copyright.
From the Brooklyn side of New York City, there are four bridges you can cross which will bring you somewhere in Manhattan; Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro Bridges. From downtown Brooklyn there is one that will bring you to Staten Island called Verrazano-Narrows Bridge; although it is pretty, you probably won’t cross or encounter that bridge unless you take a Helicopter Tour or go on the Staten Island Ferry – you’ll then see the bridge at a distance.
As many of you know, whenever I go away somewhere I love to cross bridges; to me its a sign of progression and reflects onward travel. I find when walking or travelling across a bridge, in any country, gives you a sense of belonging and allows you to really ‘stop and stare’ so you can embrace that culture; crossing bridges in New York was no different.
I walked the lengths of both Williamsburg and Brooklyn Bridges and found that my heart was severely grazed:
- Length: 7308 Feet / 2227 metres
- Architect: Gustav Lindenthal
- Opened: 1903 – was originally the longest suspension bridge in the world with a span of 1600 feet and the first with all steel towers.
- Rehabilitation: in the 1990’s Williamsburg bridge underwent major reconstruction to undo the effects of age, weather and increased traffic volumes. It’s main cables, South and North roadways have all been reconstructed; allowing it to prepare to serve another 100 Years to the city of New York.
From our quaint Apartment in the midst of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Abbi and I ventured to Williamsburg Bridge. It took us a minute or two to work out how to get up onto the bridge – basically don’t walk towards the river front and keep looking out for pedestrian/cyclist signs to the bridge.
Its a small slope to walk up onto the bridge at street level; once on it, don’t expect it to be incredible; I didn’t. Braving a dry throat, harsh cough of a cold and munching on a Cream Cheese bagel I bought from a quaint American corner shop – it was a very good decision at the time – I walked lazily uphill and into a land of surrealism.
Suddenly my cream cheese covered hands where within a foot’s reach, to the world. I wiped my hands and brushed excess breakfast off my shirt and just stared out onto the East River.
In those initial seconds, I had so many feelings rushing through my blood; yet my mind couldn’t form any words.
The sun bounced off the city’s skyline and hit the river like lights hitting the Swarovski Crystal Chandelier in the Rockerfeller Centre. I traced my fingers along the railings, watching Abbi turn the Bridge into snapshots and in that very moment life kind of made sense.
Last year I was in a very dark and broken place, just having came back from Coventry in pieces. I spent months back at home walking on eggshells until I finally began to feel comfortable and content again. I went away to Bratislava and Vienna earlier in the year and remember feeling so scared of being away from home again. I still had it in my head that going away – even for a few days – meant falling in love with some place new and that meant losing touch with home; Although on Williamsburg Bridge in my short skirt, leather jacket and canvas shoes, the hipster in me wasn’t afraid of any of that. She went willingly to find her way back home, away from home.
I looked out onto the East River at a view I’d only ever dreamt of seeing; Brooklyn Bridge and the middle of Manhattan. “Far out Abs, am I really in New York?!”
“Yeah. We are.” Abbi replied, almost as shocked as I was.
“This doesn’t happen in my world.” Safe to say I was slightly ‘wtf’ that I was actually walking across the bridge mentioned in my favourite fiction; I Heart New York.
Although I walked from Brooklyn to Manhattan my word of advice is to do that journey in reverse. So stick on the Converse, the skinny jeans, grab a Coffee – and/or a bagel – and walk from Manhattan to explore the borough of Brooklyn and its addictive atmosphere.
I grazed my hands along the railings of a very much understated bridge and I just remember the emotional connection being instantaneous. The bridge’s chipped, graffiti covered beams and padlocked railings gave it ‘hipster ownership’. There on that dated and rustic bridge, without ever expecting to, I had fallen in love with a city, that wasn’t my own.
And I wasn’t afraid of that.
- Length: 1,595 Feet 6 Inches / 486.3 Metres
- Architect: John Augustus Roebling – completed by son Washington Augustus Roebling.
- Opened: 1883 – at the time was the longest suspension bridge in the world, it is now a designated National Historic Landmark.
- It’s an iconic structure is a beautiful part of the New York City skyline; so much so it had its own TV Series at one point and now makes a frequent appearance in countless movies (The Dark Knight Rises, I Am Legend and Godzilla) and TV Series (2 Broke Girls, Sex and the City and CSI: New York)
When I was on that JFK bound Airbus-330 plane, all I thought about was seeing the Brooklyn Bridge that evening. I knew that if I left New York without seeing, without walking that bridge, I’d regret it. Realistically jetlag took over and our exploring limited us to Foodtown in Brooklyn, Union Square where I got slapped in the face by the stunning Empire State Building and a pharmacy for an awkward conversation with the pharmacists about needing the US equivalent of Bonjela because I had a mouth ulcer.
Even after all of my pointing to my mouth and saying ‘blister, ulcer, tongue, teeth, in pain’ they still struggled to understand me. But eventually I got given the right product – which I actually never got round to using.
I was eager to walk Brooklyn Bridge in the mid-Afternoon because I had this vision that the city would be so perfect silhouetted in the sunset and it would be a nice end to the day. From the City Hall/PACE University direction of Manhattan – via a dodgy street cart for an equally dodgy hot dog – we began our stroll across one of the most infamous bridges in the world. I let Abbi take lead, as I took in the City that never sleeps.
RE: Hot dog situation:- it was on Abbi’s list to eat from one of those carts, I don’t recommend it, at all.
When you walk across a bridge you’ve only ever dreamed of crossing, look up, don’t look down or across at the city. Look at the high beams and historic structure of it, appreciate it as the art form it is. Notice the locals as they run across it – and don’t take their frustration at being slowed down by lots of tourists personally – see the other tourists take group photos together and take in the atmosphere around you.
Oh and of course do take plenty of photos of this one and avoid bringing a lot of stuff across it. Its height and positioning across the East River makes it capable of high winds. Thus meaning small bangs with expensive Pandora charms in them don’t feel safe.
Walking Brooklyn Bridge at dusk gave me a strong sense of self; a feeling I had previously lost. So it was a peaceful, yet surreal experience for me. During the events of that trip, I experienced crossing two iconic bridges and that was good enough for me. As the sun set, it dawned on me that New York is the city that never sleeps because no one tires of the view…
As much as I loved the view whilst on the bridge itself; the best view of Brooklyn Bridge comes from a place that – without permission to – carves itself a place in your heart; Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Bridge Park…
Dinner Suggestion: this area has quite a range of places to eat. From expensive eateries to chain restaurants and Snacky takeaways; however I highly recommend Ignazio’s Pizza, situated right underneath Brooklyn Bridge itself. It serves yummy good value pizza and delish salads, plus the service is friendly and atmosphere feels very “family dinner out” rather than a tourist spot. After Pizza look no further than Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory for a waffle cone and head outside to enjoy the pier!
You know, I could say a thousand things about this city but it won’t do it any justice. This is a place you need to put on your bucket list.