See the Historic Bridges of NYC

Dec 11, 2019

It’s remarkable to see the hundreds of bridges that connect Manhattan to other boroughs of New York City—many of which have broken world records. Learn the stories of four famous New York City bridges that students likely won’t read about in their textbooks.

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most popular landmarks of New York City. Built in 1883, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world at that time and is considered one of the great engineering accomplishments of the 19th century. Rumors of a potential collapse caused a serious stampede during the bridge’s open week, causing 12 people to lose their lives in that chaos. Later on, in order to show that the bridge is strong and sturdy enough to hold the weight, the government brought in 21 elephants and let them cross the bridge.

The Brooklyn Bridge was proud to be the longest suspension bridge in the world for 20 years. However, the Williamsburg Bridge took this title in 1903. Unlike the Brooklyn Bridge, whose suspension cables are supported by stone, the cables of the Williamsburg Bridge are supported by steel towers, causing a lot of people to think the bridge isn’t as aesthetically attractive as the Brooklyn Bridge. But using steel instead of stone reduced a significant amount of construction time: While the Brooklyn Bridge was constructed in 13 years, the Williamsburg Bridge only took seven.

The Manhattan Bridge was constructed in 1909, the last of the three suspension bridges built over the East River. It plays an important role in relieving the overwhelming traffic between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Nowadays, more than 450,000 people (mainly transit by subway) commute through the bridge. Due to its heavy traffic load, the New York City Transit has put in over $920 million to fix the bridge since the 1980s, although sometimes people can still feel a sway when the subway trains go by.

The bridge, previously named the Triborough Bridge, is a complex of three bridges connecting the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan. In 2008, in honor of Robert F. Kennedy who was killed 40 years earlier while running for president, the bridge was officially renamed to Robert F. Kennedy Bridge—or RFG Bridge. However, changing a bridge’s name comes with a cost: It was estimated that it would take years and cost around $4 million to replace over 100 road signs.

One way to experience these bridges is to take a Liberty Cruise. From the vessel, not only could students get a full view of the Manhattan skyline, but they’ll also learn more about the bridge’s history while enjoying a beautiful view.

For more information and discounts, check out Liberty Cruise or email [email protected].

Photo and content courtesy of TopView Sightseeing NYC.