Walking the Manhattan Bridge – A Complete Guide

Lots of visitors to NYC know that walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most popular free things to do in New York. But many people wonder, is the Manhattan Bridge also walkable? The answer is a resounding YES! In fact, I think that walking the Manhattan bridge is one of New York’s best-kept secrets. On the Manhattan Bridge, you’ll find unique views, the cool Manhattan bridge graffiti, and absolutely no crowds. It can be a bit tricky to find the entry points – so for the answer to the question “How do you walk across the Manhattan Bridge,” keep reading. In this article, I include the cross streets where you can enter the bridge, a great Manhattan bridge walk and how to get that famous (or maybe infamous) Manhattan Bridge social media picture. Here too you’ll find a downloadable Manhattan bridge map to make your first time in New York a little bit easier. Let’s get started!

The Manhattan skyline as seen from the Manhattan bridge walk.  The Brooklyn bridge in the foreround, the World Trade Center and other downtown Manhattan buildings in the background, and the east river underneath.  On the east river a boat crosses the waters leaving a large trail behind it.
The views from the Manhattan Bridge are stunning and unique. In the foreground, the Brooklyn Bridge, in the background, Downtown Manhattan.

Please note: This blog post may contain some affiliate links. More info.

Packing Travel Tip:

I have been scouring Amazon for the highest quality, most helpful travel items. From the softest leggings (perfect for the flight) to the most stylish suitcase, these are the best travel products on Amazon, designed to make your vacation even better. Go check out these great finds!

Where Should You Stay in NYC?

Check out my favorite hotel in NYC – The Beekman. It’s close to both Brooklyn and the Manhattan bridges.

What Are the Subway Stations Near the Manhattan Bridge?

On the Brooklyn side, the closest train station to the Manhattan bridge is the York Street subway. Also, nearby is the High Street/Brooklyn Bridge station. On the Manhattan side, the closest train station to the Manhattan Bridge is the East Broadway Station. Also, nearby are the Canal Street Stations.

The internal Manhattan Bridge view.  Fencing on both sides recedes into the distance, creating a sort of a tunnel.  On the right side, behind the fence, large industrial beams, part of the Manhattan bridge are visible.  On the left, behind the fence, buildings in downtown Manhattan.

Also Read: Downtown Brooklyn – The Best Things To Do

Is the Manhattan Bridge View Worth the Walk?

YES! It very much is worth the walk. The reason why walking the Manhattan bridge is one of New York’s best-kept secrets is that Manhattan Bridge views are actually better than the views from the Brooklyn Bridge. The view from Manhattan bridge includes Brooklyn Bridge and downtown Manhattan – laid out in all its glory. But when you enter Manhattan bridge you might be initially disappointed. After all, how can you see anything with all this fencing? Well, where there is a will, there is a way. Especially when you are in New York. As you walk over you’ll notice that some very helpful locals have provided you with some very helpful holes in the fencing. Perfect to take a dream picture of Manhattan.

A hole in cut in the fence on the Manhattan bridge, and through the hole one of the towers of the Brooklyn bridge.
Although the Manhattan bridge is technically fenced in, some very helpful New Yorkers have added these unofficial windows at key places through the bridge.

Travel Tip:

New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the world. If you’d like to save money during your New York visit, check out the New York Pass. With this deal, you will pay one fixed price and get free admission to almost every major New York attraction. Over a period of 3 days, a family of four will save about a thousand dollars. Additionally, the pass gives you fast track entry to many major attractions. And in New York, times is money 🙂

A Great Manhattan Bridge Walk.

So let’s say its a lovely day and you decide to walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn via the Brooklyn Bridge. Then you can walk back over the Manhattan Bridge – the two are so close together you won’t need to take a subway! This makes for a great Manhattan Bridge Walk. In between, stop by Empire Stores and the Carousel. Check out my things to do in Brooklyn article for ideas on what to do next to the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges – in the neighborhood known as DUMBO.

Do keep in mind that even though the bridges are close together on the Brooklyn side, they are far apart on the Manhattan side. So if you do the “Great Manhattan Bridge Walk” you will finish at a different point in Manhattan than where you started.

At the bottom I am including a downloadable Manhattan Bridge map with all the relevant information – keep reading!

The view of East side of Manhattan. A road is centered in the picture and several cars drive over it. On the right and left side of the road older industrial warehouses converted into fashionable condos.  In the foreground, the high rises of downtown Manhattan tower over.  The freedom tower is one of the high rises.
As you get closer to the Manhattan side of the bridge, you’ll find brilliant and unusual views of downtown Manhattan.

Brooklyn Travel Tip:

Looking for even more unusual things to do in Brooklyn? Take a look at my article exploring Brooklyn’s Dead Horse Bay.

What Is Dumbo?

DUMBO stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. It’s the Brooklyn neighborhood where Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges meet. Back in the day, DUMBO was a very rough area. But, much like many places in the city, today’s DUMBO is safe and getting more fancy by the minute. In DUMBO you’ll find many stores and restaurants, and of course plenty of famous NY pizza. The area is perfectly safe at night too – I walk in Dumbo at night with my photography equipment and never had a problem.

Things To Do Near the Manhattan Bridge

In addition to exploring Dumbo, another great thing to do near the Manhattan Bridge is to take a picture in the super famous spot – the Manhattan Bridge view. It’s actually a bit of a walk from the pedestrian entry spot to Manhattan Bridge, but totally worth it. To get here, just walk to the corner of Water Street and Washington Street and boom – photography heaven. I am including this spot in the downloadable map too.

One of the blue towers of the Manhattan bridge as seen from downtown Brooklyn (dumbo).  One the left and right of the centered view industrial warehouses.  Through the whole in the bottom part of the tower a tiny empire state building.
Recognize this famous spot? Of course, you do! It’s all over social media. Many people think this is the Brooklyn bridge – but its actually the Manhattan Bridge, as seen from Dumbo. To make this picture easier to find, I include the exact location in the Manhattan Bridge map at the bottom of this article.

Manhattan Bridge Graffiti

As you are walking the Manhattan Bridge, you’ll spot authentic NY Graffiti. Additionally, the bridge is a great vantage point to see graffiti in Chinatown. I am including just a few examples of what I got to see on my walk. Of course, the bridge’s decorations are always changing. My favorite thing about Manhattan bridge graffiti is that its truly authentic. Nobody gets paid to post their tag here. The bridge is off the beaten path and only a few hundred New Yorkers cross it every day on foot. You can journey to New York City the way it stood decades ago, without leaving the modern metropolis. How cool is that?

Bright graffiti covers the Manhattan Bridge, the internal structure of the Manhattan bridge with towers.

Where to Enter the Manhattan Bridge?

Alright, let’s say you are convinced – you are interested in walking the Manhattan Bridge! So, how the heck do you get to the pedestrian walkway of Manhattan Bridge? If you are wondering how to walk across Manhattan bridge from Brooklyn, the entrance is on the corner of Sands Street and Jay Street. If on the other hand, you are coming from Manhattan into Brooklyn, the entrance is in Chinatown, on the corner of Bowery Street and Canal Street. Either way, keep in mind that the side facing downtown Manhattan is for pedestrians. The side facing Queens is for bicyclists. Lucky you, as a pedestrian you’ll get to enjoy stunning views of lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. Don’t worry, you’ll see plenty of signs as you enter that inform you which side is for which type of traffic.

The entrance to the Manhattan bridge pedestrian path.  A sign with a man and an arrow, stairs leading up to the bridge.
Look for this sign on the corner of Sands and Jay Street in Brooklyn. This entry can be a little tricky to find, but the entry in Manhattan is easy to see.

Walk the Manhattan Bridge Map

And just to make things a little with walking the Manhattan bridge, here is a helpful google map you can download with all the entry points. I indicated where you enter Manhattan Bridge in blue and where you enter the Brooklyn Bridge in red. The camera icon marks a famous place to take a picture of the Manhattan bridge from Dumbo.

Common Questions About the Manhattan Bridge:

Where does the Manhattan bridge start and end?

Manhattan Bridge starts in DUMBO on the Brooklyn side and ends in Chinatown on the Manhattan side. The exact cross streets are Sands Street and Jay Street in Brooklyn, and Bowery Street and Canal Street in Manhattan. The Manhattan Bridge spans the east river.

A view of Chinatown as seen off the Manhattan Bridge.  A road in the middle of the picture, on the left and ride sides of the road signs in Mandarin and in the foreground large buildings and freedom tower.  The shot is taken from above the shorter buildings.
In Manhattan, the Manhattan bridge ends in Chinatown New York. On the way you’ll get to see unusual Chinatown views and after your walk you can explore this unique NYC neighborhood.

Where is the Manhattan Bridge Park?

Beats me! Although there are parks near Manhattan Bridge, none of them (to my knowledge) are called the Manhattan Bridge Park. There is, however, a very famous Brooklyn Bridge Park just a few minutes walk from the Manhattan bridge. However, when doing research for this article, I found many people look for something called “Manhattan Bridge Park” online. My theory is that there might be some confusion and people who search for Manhattan Bridge Park actually are trying to find the Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Two towers of the Brooklyn bridge, a view of downtown Brooklyn including mid sized office and residential buildings. Two boats pass in the river below leaving water trails.
Brooklyn Bridge Park is located under the Brooklyn bridge. You can see it in this picture as the stretch of green land under and on the sides of the bridge.

Which Trains Cross the Manhattan Bridge?

NYC subway system is always evolving (or devolving) some might argue. So the trains that cross the Manhattan Bridge change all the time. Right now (summer of 2019) the B, the D, the N, and the Q all cross the bridge. That might change tomorrow or in twenty years. In my 25 years in New York, I might have seen a dozen lines come and go over the bridge. A confusing subway system is perhaps of New York’s most unusual pleasures.

When was the Manhattan Bridge Built?

The Manhattan bridge was completed in 1912. Construction began in 1901 and the bridge was partially open in 1909. Originally, the Manhattan bridge was designed for trains only. But, as everything in this city, things evolved and the bridge was open to cars and to walking the Manhattan Bridge.

Are Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge the Same?

Nope! But they both start in Dumbo, so the confusion is very reasonable. Brooklyn bridge is much older and open to pedestrians and vehicles. Manhattan bridge is younger and is open to trains, cars, and people.

Two towers of the Brooklyn bridge and behind them the view of downtown Manhattan.  East river can be seen below and to the right of the picture a highway with cars.
In this picture the Brooklyn Bridge is in the foreground and downtown Manhattan is in the background. Although the two bridges are located next to each other in Brooklyn, in Manhattan they are far apart.

Why Was the Manhattan Bridge Built?

The same reason New York was the original home of the sky rise. Too many people! Originally designed only for train lines, the city quickly realized it would need to accommodate vehicle traffic as well. The pedestrian portion was added almost as an afterthought but many natives use it to commute these days. The bicycle lane is especially popular in good weather.

Can You Bike the Manhattan Bridge?

Absolutely! But remember the bicycle lane does not face downtown, it faces uptown/queens so you won’t get the same views. Now, in fairness, some people on bikes ride on the walking lane and I’ve never seen anyone get a ticket. But its New York and rules are randomly enforced. If you do get a bike, I suggest you stick to the bike lane. Great views over there too – just different. If you chose to bike you can easily rent a Citibike, there are automatic rental places throughout the city.

How high is the Manhattan Bridge?

At its highest point, the Manhattan Bridge is 102 meters (336 feet) high. That includes the towers – so don’t worry you won’t be going up so far while walking the Manhattan bridge. The Manhattan Bridge is 2,089 meters long (that’s around 6,855 feet).

Graffiti painted on the internal structure of the Manhattan bridge.  A pedestrian walkway to the right of the bridge and two towers of the bridge can be seen in the distance.
The tower (as can be seen in the distance through the opening is more than 100 meters high when measured from the bottom of the East River.

Does the Manhattan Bridge Go To Queens?

This is another common question people ask online. The Manhattan Bridge does not go to Queens it goes to (drum roll please) Manhattan! And Brooklyn. Instead, the helpfully named Queensborough bridge goes to Queens. Additionally, the Roosevelt Island Bridge goes to Queens and the Triboro Bridge does as well. If you are looking to go to Queens there are plenty of ways to do so! The Manhattan bridge, however, is not one of them.

What is the Manhattan bridge rehabilitation project?

Ah yes, New York. Some days I think our motto should be “welcome to New York, we are under construction.” Manhattan bridge is over one hundred years old and is used 24 hours a day, every day since 1909. Back in 1982, the city identified that the bridge has critical issues, such as parts of steel beams are eroding and need to be replaced. Basically, the Manhattan Bridge rehabilitation project in one form or another has been going on as long as I’ve been alive. Its latest leg started in 2018. The city is fixing the issues, slowly but surely, but each time they finish repairing something, a new issue comes up. The Manhattan bridge rehabilitation project does not close the bridge to pedestrian traffic and doesn’t really affect you as a pedestrian. Just think of it as part of the special New York environment.

A construction zone on the Manhattan bridge.  An open pedestrian walkway protected by a hanging netting ad caution signs.  Sign closes to the camera says "proceed with caution."

Manhattan Bridge in Movies – Manhattan Bridge in I am Legend

First things first. Lots of people online ask the question: “Which bridge was blown up in the movie I am Legend?” The bridge Will Smith blew up in his classic I Am Legend is actually the Brooklyn bridge – not the Manhattan Bridge. However, that is not to say that the Manhattan bridge isn’t prominently featured in some radically awesome movies. Perhaps the most famous movie featuring the Manhattan bridge is Once Upon a Time in America. That famous picture everyone loves on social media? It appeared in an important movie scene and the filmmakers used it as a way to demonstrate how dirty and dangerous Brooklyn was. Other movies that featured the Manhattan Bridge include the Ghostbusters and the Angelina Jolie classic The Hackers.

Does the Manhattan bridge have a toll?

There is actually a funny story associated with this question. The Manhattan bridge does not have a toll and never did. However, some very enterprising New Yorkers in the 80’s (usually young and bold New Yorkers) would stand in the narrow pedestrian path and ask those walking the Manhattan bridge to pay a toll. It was never much – a dime or a nickel, which even in those days wasn’t worth the argument. Apparently, though, it added up and you could earn a good living in this way. Eventually, there were multiple “tolls” all through the bridge and at one point the cost to cross got too high, people complained and the city put a stop to it. So there you go – it’s New York, everyone is hustling.

One last thing…

If you made it this far, I have an easy favor to ask. Please click here (this will take you to the homepage). This last click at the end of the page lets search engines know you enjoyed the article and read all the way to the bottom. It’s like a vote of confidence and really helps me out. Thank you so much for reading see you on the road, Viktoria aka Traveltipster.

Viktoria aka Traveltipster

A Pinterest friendly graphic for walking the Manhattan Bridge.
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29 Responses

  1. Thanks for the story of the Manhattan bridge , very helpful and interesting , thanks I’m going to visit NYC 7-12-21 through the weekend can’t wait , from Idaho !

  2. So, in a NY Times comments section, this person wrote:
    (from) Braniff, Pittsburgh, May 16, 2021
    Another wonderful batch of stories! My own Manhattan Bridge one: my wife and I walked over the (very crowded) Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn once, but came back via the (very uncrowded) Manhattan Bridge. Somewhere on the bridge there is a crossover on the walkway to the other side, and it passes right over the subway tracks. I took a photo of an N train approaching, and I loved it so much – train, tracks, bridge girders, and general New York-ness – that it’s the wallpaper of my phone’s home screen.

    My questions back to Braniff, and maybe to this author/commenters?
    (from) Paul Sheridan, Earth, May 17, 2021
    Questions: what year was that walk? Are your sure you were returning on the Manhattan Bridge, and not the Williamsburg Bridge? Can anyone confirm a walkway that crosses over subway tracks on the Manhattan Bridge? Perhaps you crossed to a center concrete island between two vehicle roadways, where the trains enter and leave the tunnel? Enquiring mind wants to know!

    1. Hey Paul, as far as I know there is no cross-over on Manhattan bridge to the other side. I think it’s entirely possible the author of the other comment was on another bridge entirely. I’ve also never seen a cross over there, and I’ve lived in New York since 1992.

  3. I realised now that the bridge has walkways on both sides of the bridge. I rode across Brooklyn bridge from Manhattan and back across Manhattan bridge on the right side walkway. It seems the left side has a better view of the skyline and Brooklyn bridge and a wider walkway.

  4. Great story, as a New Yorker been almost everywhere in NYC across the Brooklyn Bridge numerous times but never the Manhattan. Now have it on my to do list for the spring, thanks for the info.

  5. Hi.
    Have been curious for a long time about the Manhattan bridge. Crossing it on a bike is on my to do list for spring or summer 2020.
    Enjoyed reading your blog very much.
    My daughter and I Just ran today over the the new Kosciusko (hint) from Queens into Williamsburg (Turkey trot) happy Thanksgiving!

  6. I’m planning to cross Brooklyn bridge, explore Dumbo and return to Manhattan through Manhattan Bridge. Thank you for your awesome resource, it was very informative 🙂

  7. This was an awesome resource! Just wondering, is this a safe bridge to walk across? How crowded would it be at around noon on a Thursday? I’d love to walk the bridge but just want to make sure I’m safe.

    1. Hi Victoria! It is super safe. It is unlikely to be very crowded at all. Safety is not an issue there, I know NYC has quite a reputation, but these days we are one of the safest metropolises in the world. Enjoy the walk!

  8. When we lived in Brooklyn, we took an occasional walk on that vrideg. It is beautiful and a worthwhile exercise effort. Would highly recommend it.

  9. im not sure if i’m just not that tuned into social media and ultimate solo photos but what kind of infamous photos were you talking about with the manhattan bridge? did you just mean of the brooklyn bridge or was there something else like tourist people pretending to hold a famous landmark in their hand or something. i may be overthinking this now that i reread my comment

    1. Hi Rhey! I mean the picture from Dumbo, the one under “Things to do near the Manhattan bridge.” paragraph. Its sort of a famous shot lots of people have on the insta and other social media.

  10. I”m so glad to have come across this post. I have been thinking of taking my youngest to NYC. He is the only kid of my 4 who has not been. I have been but have never been to DUMBO. I was wondering about that walk. Now I’m considering both bridges, because how cool!

    1. I am so glad to hear that I hope you’ll get a chance to come soon! Its a really great walk, I’ve done it with both of my kids although they are a bit older.

  11. This is a beautiful bridge to explore! I love that it offers so many great views of the city! I wish we could visit NY sometime soon.

  12. I’ve been to NYC three times and every time I go, I want to walk on the bridge, but I never manage to fit it into my short trips. Your post has inspired me to make sure next time it’s a priority!

  13. I”ve never seen a city this big before. I’m in awe of your photos. I’ll have to use your guide if I ever am lucky enough to make it to the Manhattan Bridge.

    1. Thanks, Bill! Yes -it is an amazing city. Hopefully, you guys will have a chance to come back soon!

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Looking for vacation ideas or travel tips? You’ve come to the right place! 
On GoTravelTipster.com, you will find one-week vacation itineraries for couples and families.  Don’t have time for a week-long trip? Check out my weekend getaway ideas!
Always practical, accompanied by beautiful photography and a bit of history, my goal is to help you create – and fulfill – the ultimate travel bucket list.  I look forward to your comments and questions, and happy traveling!

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