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The Mighty Manhattan Bridge


The power of the Manhattan Bridge cannot be denied. It is an orchestration of rivet studded girders, harp like cables and beautiful beaux art design and it spans the East River like a dancer leaping across a stage. Her audience is the city of New York and specifically its Brooklyn residents. I ride across her expanse daily via the subway. I always position myself by a window. Once the train is delivered from darkness, I stop what I am reading and look out: out the windows, through the massive metal beams, beyond the walkway and out into the city. It is a ride I never tire of because the beauty is apparent and it is relatively short lived. Slowly the train descends into the tunnel on the other side and the journey continues and my eyes return to the page in the book I am reading.

I intimately know the Manhattan Bridge. In desperation I crossed her road bed on two occasions: the first time on 9/11 and the second after the blackout it 2003. Each time I approached the slope of the bridge, with its beautiful arched entry way flanked by an elegant colonnade on either side. It is majestic. On those particular days the bridge had a power of its own. In the middle road bed where cars normally swim to and from Manhattan, a sea of people marched across to Brooklyn in earnest. It was hard to enjoy the beauty of the bridge on those days, but there was no denying the exhilarating power that was felt by all, as thousands crossed her span.

On other occasions I ride my bike across the Manhattan Bridge. Each time I try and anticipate where and when vertigo will set in. The walkways are on the outer edge of the bridge. For me I feel like I am riding on a thin strip of balsa, delicately and precariously attached to her massive beams. Like a surfer who rides a great wave, I am propelled forward by the sheer power and force of this great bridge. At times when I have stopped to enjoy the view, I felt the constant vibrations rippling through her monumental body. During those times, my knees weaken and I feel as though I could topple over. To overcome this unsettling feeling, I have to stand rigid with my back to her gargantuan supports, with my hands splayed wide against her metal. When I have looked up to marvel at her magnificent spire that kisses the sky, I am forced to the ground cowering on all fours. It is then I feel the vibrations of the bridge even stronger and I have to force myself not to scream in terror. After I regain my composure, I then gingerly mount my bike, tightening my foot stirrups so I can ride more swiftly. My eyes stay focused on the walkway, until I feel myself calming down. The mighty Manhattan is like an aphrodisiac, I just can’t deny or stay away from the thrill I feel each and every time I am on her.

Below is a brief listing of websites and articles about the Manhattan Bridge

  • A good general site discussing the Manhattan Bridge, accompanied with great photos.
  • An article by Christopher Gray, NYTimes Streetscapes columnist lamenting the great beauty of the Manhattan Bridge.
  • An interesting article about the engineering marvel of the Manhattan Bridge.
  • Berenice Abbott photos (1) and (2) of Manhattan Bridge from NYPL Digital Gallery
  • From the Museum of the City of New York and their great collection of Berenice Abbott photos, including Manhattan Bridge photos


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

What a marvelous description

What a marvelous description of the bridge. I've only ever crossed it "safely" enclosed by the subway, I'm thinking I might need to experience it "cowering on all fours" as you say, if you hear me screaming, know that you've caused it. Just the sort of wake-up this mid-life librarian needs, more exciting than a ride on the Cyclone?

Biking on the bridge

Thank you. You have to bike the bridge, very fun. And what a view, especially the balcony overlooks and the dedication plaque. There are so many lovely, elegant, architectural details you only see by walking or riding the bridge. And oh, the speed you pick up on abike and the wind in your face! Great fun! Cynthia

Manhattan Bridge

Thanks for the wonderful article on the Manhattan Bridge.........As a Pittsburgher, I enjoy reading about bridges in other areas of the country.

I fell in love with Pittsburgh

I was only there once, but fell in love with your city. I loved how it was nestled in the valley, surrounded by the rivers. I thought it was an interesting place, would like to go back. I was in the center of town and there were twisty streets and what seemed like a glass palace too. I ate in a very good Irish bar, unlike anything we had in Michigan. On another subject, I also love Evgeny Malkin and Andre Fleury, hockey players with a lot of spunk. take care Cynthia

Love the picture

A wonderful description as always...............though I think I will stick to my subway view

i agree the picture was nice

i agree the picture was nice and i would stick to the subway too. although the bridge is very nice and well detailed.

the manhattan bridge

first i want to say that i have a fear of bridges.especially the brooklyn bridge.2 weeks ago my daughter and me went to dumbo for a mini picnic.when we came close towards the manhattan bridge, my heart started racing i was sweating and i had to get me a beer to calm me down.but when we went to brooklyn bridge park, and i sat on a rock under the manhattan bridge, my fear was gone.i love the manhattan bridge and always wonder why this bridge get little play?i live in brooklyn but the brooklyn bridge get alot of attention.even the WILLIE B get more attention.i love this bridge and when we go to brooklyn bridge park, i go near the base of the bridge for pics.

Manhattan Bridge

If anyone wants to see images of the Manhattan Bridge that no one else has, log onto These are only a few photographs on what he has taken over the many years

Thanks for the link. Dave's

Thanks for the link. Dave's photographs are wonderful, dramatic with definite edge to them. I enjoyed looking at them.

What you described sounds

What you described sounds much like a panic attack. Coincidentally, I had my first panic attack going over the Manhattan Bridge on a Saturday, D train. on my way to work at Donnell. It was terrifying and to this day, makes no sense where it came from. And after that, I couldn't function standing on an Express platform, and would have to sit down on the ground. But the Manhattan Bridge is my paramour, too, sexier, more sensual, more complex and profound than its more celebrated sister. You write beautifully.

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