How to Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge's pedestrian promenade rises above vehicular traffic and has a dedicated bike lane.
The Brooklyn Bridge's pedestrian promenade rises above vehicular traffic and has a dedicated bike lane. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Walking across one of the world's most iconic bridges, which after its opening in 1883 was called the "Eighth Wonder of the World," is free and easy. The Brooklyn Bridge connects Manhattan and Brooklyn by crossing over the East River. A pedestrian promenade on the bridge is a major tourist draw, not only for seeing the historic engineering and architectural marvel up close, but also for the views of the river, harbor -- the Statue of Liberty is visible in the distance -- and the famous view of the Manhattan skyline that it provides.

Getting There

Take the subway or hail a cab. Driving yourself and trying to park anywhere near the Brooklyn Bridge isn't recommended. This is the heart of the city, where there's too much traffic and too little parking. New York's subway system is efficient, affordable and safe, with stops near the bridge on both sides. On the Manhattan side, the 4,5,6, J and Z trains serve the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall Station. Take the A or C trains and get off at the High Street Station on the Brooklyn side. The bridge is easily visible once you exit the stations, and signage points the way to the promenade.

Crossing Over

If you don't want to make the 2.2-mile round trip across the bridge and back, it's best to begin a one-way walk from the Brooklyn side heading toward Manhattan. Walking this way, you're facing the skyline view that so many come to photograph and gawk at. If you begin in Manhattan, you'll have to stop and turn around or constantly look over your shoulder to catch the best views.

Mind the Lanes

The promenade can get crowded when the weather's nice -- and not just with tourists. Residents use the pathway daily for commuting, exercising and strolling. One lane is reserved for cyclists, another for pedestrians. Oftentimes, pedestrians stray into the bike lane to snap pictures or pass a slow-moving group of people. Cyclists must yield to pedestrians but don't linger too long if you must cross the solid painted line dividing the lanes. Cyclists use the typical etiquette calls to let pedestrians know they're passing by on the left or right, but their warnings might also be peppered with some more salty NYC-style phrasings if you're caught hogging the lane.

After You Cross

You'll find plenty to do on each side of the Brooklyn Bridge. The Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights neighborhoods on the Brooklyn side feature riverfront parks, famous restaurants like the River Cafe and Grimaldi's Pizza, and scenic cobblestone streets. Perhaps the most photographed view of the bridge is the one where its underside appears above the soaring skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan. Head to Brooklyn Bridge Park underneath and on the north side of the bridge to see this view. Some of the city's most famous landmarks and tourist attractions are found on the Manhattan side, including South Street Seaport and Wall Street. Also nearby are Battery Park, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and St. Paul's Chapel.

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