Saturday, January 12, 2013

Bridge of the Week Summary

George Washington Bridge, Manhattan - New Jersey
Now that I've completed my Bridge of the Week series, I wanted to give a rundown, a summary, a few thoughts, statistics and explanations.

I started this series here with the intention of writing a report about each bridge in New York City that a runner can run across, giving some interesting statistics, historical facts, information about the neighborhood, and what makes me love to run across the bridge, or not. I decided at the beginning to only write about bridges that cross natural waterways, not viaducts over railroad tracks, roadway overpasses, park bridges over man-made lakes and ponds (notably Bow Bridge in Central Park). I originally thought I'd cover only about 30-35 of the larger bridges, thinking that the smaller bridges weren't worth the time, but I'm so glad I changed my mind! I did, however, draw the line by not covering bridges that were more culverts than bridges, i.e., if there was mostly earth and greenery with a corrugated pipe or something similar for the waterway I didn't bother. And I also chose not to cover bridges with restricted access or pay-only access, such as a few bridges I was interested in on Staten Island in the Fresh Kills area that are off-limits to civilians, and a couple of bridges that are apparently in the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, since I've never been there (I know, so sue me) and I didn't feel the need to pay for the sake of this blog, especially since those who enter are probably not running inside the garden anyway. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, as you will see below. To the best of my knowledge, then, I have covered every such defined bridge in the five boroughs. And when I say covered, I don't just mean writing about it, I actually ran over each and every bridge before writing about it. That explains why it was sometimes more than a week between posts, sometimes much more than a week! And while I did pull a few pics off the internet, especially early on (some historical photos, some aerial shots), most of the pics are mine, including at least one of every bridge, and all of the pics in this post.

So without further ado, here's my summary and overview:
Meadowmere Park Footbridge, Queens
First post: Jan. 30, 2010, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Staten Island - Brooklyn
Last post: December 30, 2012, Manhattan Bridge, Manhattan - Brooklyn
Total number of bridges: 91
Number of bridges by borough (many bridges in two or more boroughs):
     Bronx - 33
     Queens - 28
     Brooklyn - 23
     Manhattan - 21
     Staten Island - 7
Waterways with the most bridges:
     Bronx River - 17
     Harlem River - 10 (including the Harlem River Ship Canal and Spuyten Duyvil Creek)
     Hook Creek - 8
Carroll St. Bridge, Brooklyn
Number of drawbridges: 26 (including non-active drawbridges)
Number of footbridges: 13
Bridges not currently open to pedestrians: 4
     Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (only runnable during the ING New York City Marathon)
     High Bridge (being refurbished for reopening, hopefully next year)
     Goethals Bridge (walkway closed)
     Bronx Shore Footbridge (still under construction)
Town Bridge, Staten Island
Longest bridge*: George Washington Bridge - 3,500 feet main span, 4,760 total length
     *not counting the multi-span Robert F. Kennedy Bridge or the unrunnable Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
Shortest bridge: Town Bridge, Staten Island, roughly ten feet.
Oldest bridge: Town Bridge, 1845, not the High Bridge as usually noted, opened 1848
Newest bridge (completed): Willis Avenue Bridge, October 2, 2010
Bayonne Bridge, Staten Island - New Jersey
Favorite bridge (big): George Washington Bridge
     Just a big, beautiful bridge with a rich history, has become a symbol for my neighborhood of Washington Heights, and is a link to some amazing running on the Palisades in New Jersey.
Favorite bridge (small): Carroll St. Bridge
     One of two retractile bridges in the city (along with the Borden Ave. Bridge in Queens) and one of only four in the country. Beautiful and charming.
High Bridge, Manhattan - Bronx
Favorite bridge name: Ramblersville-Hawtree Memorial Bridge, Queens
     Retaining the old neighborhood name in what is now Howard Beach and the Hawtree Creek/Basin and additional honor to those killed in World War II.
Least Favorite bridge name: Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly the Triborough Bridge)
     Enough with the Kennedys already.
Most underappreciated bridge: Bayonne Bridge
     A real gem, a beautiful bridge.
Nereid Ave. Bridge, Bronx
Scariest bridge: Robert F. Kennedy Bridge - Queens leg
     At least now that reconstruction of the walkway is complete you don't need to risk your life on a shaky temporary overhang, but acrophobes will still get butterflies in their stomach when the chain link fence section ends.
Best view: Brooklyn Bridge - a classic, still the best
Wish list: Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
     I think most runners and especially cyclists would agree, and the bridge was built for the possibility of adding a bike/pedestrian path. I believe years ago Mayor Bloomberg voiced his support, in theory, but he certainly didn't put it on his priority list. As it is, the only way to get to Staten Island under your own power is via New Jersey and the Bayonne Bridge, or by kayak I suppose.

Williamsburg Bridge, Manhattan - Brooklyn
Posts with the most views (as of now):
     Williamsburg Bridge - 4,388
     Eastern Boulevard Bridge - 769 (two most-viewed posts on my blog overall)
     Bayonne Bridge - 297
     Pulaski Bridge - 294
I can't explain the reasons for this, it seems random to me, I guess somehow I got near the top of search lists.
Manhattan Bridge, Manhattan - Brooklyn
Main sources of information:
     New York City Department of Transportation:
     Forgotten New York:, a highly addictive site, you can easily spend hours here reading about old bridges, roads, buildings, signs, remnants of trolley tracks, you name it.
     Transportation Alternatives:, has information about bike access over bridges, which can be useful information for runners as well.
Sheepshead Bay Footbridge, Brooklyn
So that's it. Thank all of you for reading, thanks to those of you who posted comments and who told me in person how you like this series. It's been a lot of fun exploring these bridges, and it's gotten me to explore many areas of the city that I wouldn't otherwise have visited. It's a big, beautiful city (in it;s own way) and I hope this inspires you to do some exploring of your own, whether running, walking, cycling, blading, unicycling, kayaking, or whatever. Cheers!


  1. The bridge over Sheepshead Bay took a big hit in the storm.

  2. I came in near the end of your postings, Phil, but I enjoy the 'color' and objectivity in your writing, and will look forward to future entries from the Long Distance Voyager.
    PS - I ran over two of your 91 bridges yesterday; the Union St Bridge in Brooklyn (over the Gowanus Canal, a block from the Carroll St Bridge) and the famous Brooklyn Bridge, which never ever disappoints, and is easy to navigate this time of year now that the tourists are gone.

  3. Very interesting, and nicely done. I actually took the time to read what you wrote. I enjoyed the photos as well.

  4. I have absolutely loved following this series. Thanks for doing it! This will be a resource for curious New York runners for years to come.

  5. I admire your dedication to a project near to my own heart -- though I'm more of a bicyclist than a runner. I think you really ought to check out the several bridges inside the NY Botanical Garden, however, as they have some history and cross a significant body of water, i.e., the Bronx River. What's more, I do indeed often see people jogging inside the garden -- and have occasionally wished I could get away with bicycling there.