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How to Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge (Tips from a Local)

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge

According to the New York Department of Transportation, it’s estimated that roughly 116,000 cars, 3,000 cyclists, and 30,000 pedestrians cross the Brooklyn Bridge daily. Some do it as part of their daily commute between Brooklyn and Manhattan, and others are out-of-town visitors taking in one of the Big Apple’s most iconic landmarks.

Regardless of the reason, I’m here to share some insight into walking the Brooklyn Bridge. Here’s everything you need to know to make the colossal bridge more approachable. Let’s dive in!

Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (10 Best Neighborhoods +3 to Avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.

How to Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

Table of Contents: Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge

How Long is the Bridge and How Much Time Should I Allocate?

The Brooklyn Bridge spans approximately 1.1 miles (or about 1.8 kilometers) between Manhattan and Brooklyn. The time it takes to cross the Brooklyn Bridge can vary depending on walking speed, the level of pedestrian traffic, and how often you stop to take photos or admire the views.

Generally, it takes around 20 to 30 minutes to walk across the bridge at a leisurely pace without stops. However, those who take their time, soak in the views, and stop to fill their camera rolls with photos will want to allocate about 45 minutes to an hour for the crossing.

Where to Access the Pedestrian Walkway

The pedestrian walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge can be accessed from a handful of points in Manhattan. Here’s where to find them:

  • City Hall Park Area: This is the main access point to the Brooklyn Bridge’s pedestrian walkway in Manhattan. The entrance lies at the intersection of Centre Street and Park Row, near City Hall Park.
  • Chinatown Area: Another access point is located near the intersection of Centre Street and Chambers Street, close to the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge. This area is also accessible from Chinatown and the Lower East Side.
  • South Street Seaport Area: Near the South Street Seaport, you can access the Brooklyn Bridge’s pedestrian walkway from the intersection of Pearl Street and Frankfort Street.

On the Brooklyn side of the bridge, there are a few more access points sprinkled along the pedestrian walkway. I’ll list the two below:

  • Tillary Street: The start of the Brooklyn Bridge promenade is located near Tillary Street and Adams Street. It’s easy to find where to go since there are signs for vehicular traffic onto the bridge.
  • Cadman Plaza: Cadman Plaza is a large public park located near the Brooklyn side of the bridge. Access to the pedestrian walkway can be found at Cadman Plaza East and Prospect Street.

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

What to Know While Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge

When crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, whether on foot or by bike, there are several important things to keep in mind:

  • Stay in Your Lane: The Brooklyn Bridge has separate lanes for pedestrians and cyclists. Pedestrians should use the elevated pedestrian walkway located above the vehicular traffic lanes, while cyclists should use the dedicated bike path on the lower level.
  • Follow Traffic Signs and Signals: The bridge is equipped with traffic signals and signs to help regulate the flow of pedestrian and bike traffic. Pay attention to these signals and follow any instructions or directional signs to ensure a smooth and safe crossing.
  • The Bridge Gets Jam-Packed: The small pedestrian walkway on the Brooklyn Bridge can get swamped, with thousands of folks crossing at any given hour and slowing the flow of traffic. For those who struggle with crowds, early mornings and post-sundown walks will be best. 

When is the Best Time to Walk the Brooklyn Bridge?

The best time to cross the Brooklyn Bridge is sunrise (or anytime in the morning). The soft morning light illuminates the skyline, creating a picturesque backdrop for a memorable walk. The bridge is typically less crowded, allowing pedestrians a more peaceful experience. The cooler temperatures during the early morning also make for a comfortable stroll, especially during the warmer months.

On the other hand, the middle of the day is the worst time to cross the Brooklyn Bridge. This is typically when tourist activity peaks, resulting in crowded walkways and unbearable congestion, making navigating and enjoying the experience difficult.

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge

Tips for Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge

  • Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from the Brooklyn Side: Starting in Brooklyn provides stunning views of the Manhattan skyline for the duration of your stroll. Plus, for those crossing in the morning, the sun will illuminate the skyline as it rises from the east.
  • Be Mindful of Traffic: The Brooklyn Bridge can get quite busy during the middle of the day, at sunset, and on weekends. Be aware of your surroundings, keep to the right side of the path, and be courteous to others. Avoid sudden stops or changes in direction to prevent accidents.
  • Stay Hydrated: Walking or biking across the Brooklyn Bridge can be physically demanding, especially on hot days. Be sure to bring water and stay hydrated.
  • Take Caution with Photography: The Brooklyn Bridge offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and the East River, making it a popular spot for photography. If you plan to stop to take photos, be mindful of other pedestrians and cyclists around you. Move to the side of the path or designated viewing areas to avoid blocking the flow of traffic (and watch your tripod legs!).
  • Dress Appropriately: The weather conditions on the bridge can vary, so it’s essential to dress appropriately for your walk or bike ride. Bring layers in case of changing temperatures, and be prepared for wind and sun exposure, especially if you’re crossing during the warmer months.

views from the One World Trade Center, the Brooklyn Bridge

Famous Landmarks and Skyscrapers Visible from the Brooklyn Bridge

While crossing the Brooklyn Bridge there will be ample opportunity to admire several famous landmarks and skyscrapers, including:

  • One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower): Standing at a height of 1,776 feet (541 meters), One World Trade Center is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and impossible to ignore.
  • Woolworth Building: This historic skyscraper, completed in 1913, was once the tallest building in the world. Its distinctive Gothic-style architecture makes it a recognizable landmark from the Brooklyn Bridge (it’s the one with the green patina roof).
  • 8 Spruce Street (New York by Gehry): Designed by architect Frank Gehry, this residential skyscraper features a unique stainless steel facade that appears to be flowy.
  • One Manhattan Square: This luxury residential tower on the Lower East Side of Manhattan is notable for its sleek, modern design and reflective facade.
  • Statue of Liberty: From certain vantage points on the bridge, you can catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty standing proudly in New York Harbor.
  • Empire State Building: While not consistently visible from the bridge, the Empire State Building can be seen from certain angles along the walkway, especially as you approach the Manhattan side.

DUMBO, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge

What neighborhoods does the Brooklyn Bridge Connect?

The Brooklyn Bridge was built in 1883 to connect the Financial District in Lower Manhattan (near Chinatown and the Lower East Side) with DUMBO in Brooklyn. 

Highlights in the Financial District include:

  • Wall Street: The financial heart of the city, Wall Street is synonymous with global finance and the New York Stock Exchange. It’s a symbol of economic power and wealth, lined with historic buildings such as the Federal Hall National Memorial and the New York Stock Exchange building.
  • One World Trade Center: One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. It serves as the centerpiece of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex and offers panoramic views from the tallest observation deck in NYC.
  • The Charging Bull: This iconic bronze sculpture, located in Bowling Green Park, represents the bullish optimism of the financial markets. It has become a famous symbol of Wall Street and financial prosperity, attracting visitors from around the world to pose for photos with the statue.

Highlights in DUMBO include:

  • The DUMBO Waterfront: DUMBO’s waterfront area along the East River offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, including landmarks such as the Empire State Building and the Freedom Tower. Visitors can enjoy leisurely strolls along the Brooklyn Bridge Park promenade, relax in the grassy lawns, and take in the beauty of the surroundings.
  • Time Out Market: The Time Out Market and the Empire Stores are part of a historic warehouse complex dating back to the 19th century, which  has been transformed into a vibrant retail space and market. It houses shops, restaurants, and occasional art galleries, preserving the area’s industrial heritage while offering modern amenities and attractions.
  • Washington Street: Washington Street is famous for its iconic view of the Manhattan Bridge framed by the cobblestone street and historic buildings. This picturesque spot has become one of the most photographed locations in DUMBO, offering a quintessential New York City backdrop for visitors and photographers alike.

view of 9/11 Lights from DUMBO, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge at Night

Frequently Asked Questions About Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge

Does it cost money to cross the Brooklyn Bridge?

No, there is no toll or fee to cross the Brooklyn Bridge for pedestrians and cyclists.

Are there vendors at the Brooklyn Bridge? 

Yes, there are vendors, mainly selling souvenirs and snacks, near the entrances of the Brooklyn Bridge (especially on the Manhattan side).

Can I cross the Brooklyn Bridge at Night? 

Yes, you can cross the Brooklyn Bridge at night; it is open to pedestrians and cyclists 24 hours a day.

Does a Subway Cross the Brooklyn Bridge?

No, the Brooklyn Bridge is not used by subway trains; instead, it has separate lanes for pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicles.

Are there other bridges in NYC worth crossing?

Yes, there are several other iconic bridges in NYC worth crossing, including the Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, and Queensboro Bridge, each offering unique views of the cityscape; but the Brooklyn Bridge is by far the most famous and recognizable.

Is it worth walking over Brooklyn Bridge?

Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge is worth it, as it offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, the East River, and the Statue of Liberty, providing a memorable and picturesque experience.

Can you see the Statue of Liberty from the Brooklyn Bridge?

Yes, you can see the Statue of Liberty from the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge offers a panoramic view of the New York Harbor, including the iconic Statue of Liberty in the distance.

Is it safe to walk the Brooklyn Bridge at night?

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge at night is generally safe. However, as with any urban area, it’s advisable to stay aware of your surroundings and take common-sense precautions, such as walking with a group, staying in well-lit areas, and being mindful of traffic.

Is it better to walk over Brooklyn or Manhattan Bridge?

The choice between walking over the Brooklyn or Manhattan Bridge depends on whether you prefer iconic views of the Manhattan skyline (Brooklyn Bridge) or unique perspectives of the Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO neighborhood (Manhattan Bridge).

Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge (Map)

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What to Do When it Rains: 20 Fool-Proof Rainy Day Activities in New York City (Local’s Guide)
Date Ideas: 19 (Non-Cheesy) Romantic Things to Do in New York City
The Best Museums: 15 Exciting Museums in New York City (& What to See at Each)
What to Do at Night: 15 Things to Do in New York City at Night (Night Owls Guide)

And there you have it! My complete guide to crossing the Brooklyn Bridge with local tips and suggestions. I hope you have as much fun crossing the bridge as I did writing this post!

Until next time.