The Manhattan Bridge opened to traffic on December 31, 1909 and was the first suspension bridge to utilize Austrian engineer Josef Melan’s Melan System, a method for constructing reinforced bridges. Melan’s system was used for building many record-breaking suspension bridges during the 20th century. While the bridge opened to traffic at the end of 1909, it didn’t finish initial construction until 1910.

Each day, the bridge carries over 450,000 passengers across the East River via automobile, truck, subway, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic, linking Manhattan and Long Island. In addition to the bridges, there are also several ferry terminals to help with the traffic. Along with the Brooklyn Bridge, the Queensboro Bridge, and the Williamsburg Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge is a toll-free crossing, which helps prevent slowdowns while crossing boroughs.

Manhattan Bridge in New York - one of the highlights of 11 Best Free Things to Do in New York and 10 Most Amazing Viewpoints in New York (Read all about New York here)

Highlights of the Manhattan Bridge

To get the full appreciation of the construction and magnitude of the bridge, you should cross it on foot at least once. At about 1,480 feet, depending on how fast you walk, it can take you anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to get to the other side. If you’re going to stop to take in the view, you’ll want to plan some extra time.

During its centennial year in 2009, the American Society of Civil Engineers named the Manhattan Bridge a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. On the Brooklyn side, just under the approach, you’ll find Main Park, which includes an Environmental Education Center, a man-made rock climbing park, a beach, and a playground.

History of the Manhattan Bridge

Construction on the bridge began in 1901 with the foundations of the towers. In 1905, it was suggested that subway tracks be added to the bridge, and construction of the tracks began in 1908. Additionally, in 1908, the first temporary wire was strung between the towers. On December 5, 1909, the Manhattan Bridge was opened to 100 VIPs before opening to the general public on December 31, 1909. Some small additions were made in the first few years after opening, such as increasing the aesthetic of the approaches on both the Brooklyn and Manhattan sides.

Since opening, the bridge has gone through several major repairs, including one that closed the pedestrian pathway for 40 years before reopening in June 2001. Before 2004, when bicycles got their own path, they used to share a pathway with pedestrians.

Good to know about the Manhattan Bridge

The Manhattan Bridge is a 2-level structure that has several roadways spidering off from it, so you will want to know where you are going well in advance of arriving at the bridge. Be sure to keep an eye on the signs before you get through the tolls to reach the bridge. Using a GPS can help, as can checking online for information about directions to your destination. Researching online can also help you discover the best places to park to visit Main Park.

Manhattan traffic can be bad any time of day, but especially during rush hour, so make sure that you give yourself enough time to reach your destination if you are using the Manhattan Bridge as part of your route.

Manhattan Bridge in New York

Location: Manhattan Bridge, New York, NY 11201, USA