Perhaps the most iconic bridge of them all, one of the most beautiful and photographed bridges in the world for sure. Up there with Tower Bridge, Sidney Harbour Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge as icons in the world of bridges. A true icon of New York.
The Brooklyn Bridge was the first fixed crossing of the East River between Manhattan Island and Long Island and Brooklyn, it was originally called the New York and Brooklyn Bridge or the East River Bridge when it opened in 1883. It was renamed the Brooklyn Bridge in 1915. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time of its opening and it is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the US. The span between the two suspension towers is 486 metres and it is 26 metres wide. The height above water is 38,7 metres from the car deck depending on the tide. The towers are 85 metres tall and built of limestone and granite.
The easiest way to access the pedestrian walkway that spans the bridge is to take the subway to either Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall subway station (lines 4-5-6) or the Chambers Street station (lines M-J-Z). From both stations there is just a few metres walk southwards to the Brooklyn Bridge Promenade. The usual recommendation of getting there early applies, the throngs of likeminded tourists can get busy mid-day and onwards. Be mindful when you walk on the promenade that you stick to the pedestrian side of the walkway, the indigenous New Yorkers on bikes do not look friendly on tourists rambling in the bike lane. If you do, there will be choice words yelled and middle fingers raised by those on two wheels. The promenade spans the whole bridge and gives breath-taking views back towards lower Manhattan and the New York by Gehry buildings, One World Trade Center and several other iconic New York skyscrapers. At the towers the promenade splits in two and there is plenty of room to step aside and read the information placards and plaques. If you feel thirsty there are lots of vendors trying to earn a few bucks from tourists that have forgotten that water is an ok thing to carry on a hot day. The best views are from the middle of the bridge where the spans dip down and leave clear sightlines towards Manhattan, down the East River towards Governors Island and up the river towards Manhattan Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge.
Approaching the Brooklyn end of the bridge you should dip down to the DUMBO area just under the bridge. The DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is a cool little neighbourhood that in the 19th and beginning of 20th century was a warehouse and industrial district but in the late 20th century the whole area was bought as a development by David Valentas and his company and remade into an upscale residential and commercial district. Currently DUMBO is a hub for technology start-ups. The streets are still rich in traditional architecture, and some have cobblestones.
The whole area south and north of the bridge by East River is very cool. Both sides have parks with great views towards Manhattan. Head south of the bridge to 1 Hotel with magnificent views of Manhattan both to stay at or just to have a drink on their epic roof terrace. On both sides there are parks, some of the coolest streets for photos and of course a plethora of coffeeshops, eateries and small galleries. Restaurants like Superfine, Gran Electrica, Archway Café, Front Street Pizza and Los Tacos Al Pastor are all part of the tres cool outdoor dining scene in DUMBO. The whole area was designated a Historic District in 2007. In the summertime the best flea market in New York holds fort just under the bridge to the north. Brooklyn Flea is a must see in summer, it changes location in winter, so just check their website for further info.
To get back to Manhattan just walk to the York Street Subway (M line) and head back with the subway across the bridge.