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20 Great Facts About Manhattan Bridge

This is one of the busiest and most important bridges in the United States.

In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about Manhattan Bridge, one of the most famous bridges in New York City.

1. What is Manhattan Bridge?

Manhattan Bridge is a suspension bridge that crosses the East River in New York City. It connects two of the most significant neighborhoods of the city with each other, Manhattan and Brooklyn.

It’s one of the three major suspension bridges that was built across the East River, the other ones being the Brooklyn Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge.

Below you can see the Manhattan Bridge and the Manhattan skyline with the spires of the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building sticking out.

facts about Manhattan bridge
Manhattan Bridge / ingfbruno /

2. Where is Manhattan Bridge located?

The bridge connects Lower Manhattan, also known as Downtown Manhattan, with Downtown Brooklyn.

It does so at Canal Street, a major east-west street in Lower Manhattan, and Flatbush Avenue, a major avenue in Brooklyn. In order to connect the bridge in Brooklyn, a part referred to as the “Flatbush Avenue Extension” was added.

Manhattan brudge brooklyn

3. When was Manhattan Bridge built?

It was the last of the 3 suspension bridges to be built across the East River. The nearby Brooklyn Bridge was built first and completed in 1883, followed by the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903.

Construction of the Manhattan Bridge started in 1901 and the bridge officially opened for traffic on December 31, 1909.

Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge with Manhattan Bridge in the background.

4. It was supposed to have a different name

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The original name for the Manhattan Bridge was supposed to be “Bridge Number 3,” because it was the third in line when it comes to suspension bridges crossing the East River.

In 1902, however, it was decided that the bridge was going to be called “Manhattan Bridge” by the board managing its construction.

facts about Manhattan Bridge

5. The New York Times didn’t like this name

Not everybody was happy with the choice of name, especially not the leading newspaper in New York, the New York Times.

They described the name as insignificant and meaningless and preferred it to be called after the bay it was located in, the Wallabout Bay. In their opinion, the “Wallabout Bridge” would have gotten “historical and geographical significance.”

Their reasoning? They assumed that “all the bridges across the East River were Manhattan Bridges and the name Manhattan Bridge is void of any meaning.”

6. It was built by an immigrant engineer

The engineer of Manhattan Bridge was a Latvian-born immigrant named Leon Solomon Moisseiff. He completed he graduated from Columbia University with a degree in civil engineering in 1895 after moving to the United States with his family at the age of 19.

Manhattan Bridge was his ultimate reference and he eventually became the leading suspension bridge engineer in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s.

His career was overshadowed by a tragic event in which one of his bridges named the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed in 1940. he died of a heart attack just 3 years after this incident that put a shadow over his entire career.

Leon Moisseiff, engineer of Manhattan Bridge
Leon Moisseiff, engineer of Manhattan Bridge. / Wiki Commons

7. The $10 million budget didn’t suffice

The first work on the foundation had started as early as 1901, and by 1903, construction workers and engineers were working on the caissons of the towers of the bridge.

The first cables connected both ends of the bridge in 1908, and by then, the original budget of $10,000,000 wasn’t even enough to pay for half of the construction cost. A total of $22,000,000 was spent on the construction of the Manhattan Bridge.

Manhattan Bridge construction 1909

8. The first 100 people crossed Manhattan Bridge

100 of the most notable citizens of Brooklyn were allowed to be the first people to ever cross Manhattan Bridge. This happened on December 5, 1909.

This event marked the “unofficial opening” of Manhattan Bridge, which was followed on December 31, 1909, with the official opening by outgoing Mayor George B. McClellan Jr.

Manhattan Bridge opening

9. Renovations were needed to stop the bridge from tilting

Plans to integrate a subway railway track on the bridge had been approved as early as 1907, and the construction of these tracks was started in March of 1908.

This massive endeavor was only completed in 1917, and the moment the first trains started crossing the bridge on the tracks, a problem started developing. depending on how many trains were crossing the bridge on one side, it would start tilting in the opposite direction.

It wasn’t until the year 1956 that renovations were completed to fix the bridge in such a way that it would stop it from tilting.

Manahattan bridge railway track
Manhattan bridge railway track. / Source

10. Major repair works cost an estimated $800 million USD

regardless of the bridge not tilting anymore, it was in pretty poor condition. When it became necessary to ban trucks from the lower level of the bridge, a plan was created to do some “major renovations.”

To emphasize the fact that Manhattan Bridge was in pretty poor condition, the renovation project took over 12 years to complete (ended in 2004) and the total cost was over $800 million USD!

Manhattan Bridge Skyline
Manhattan Bridge and Manhattan skyline. / Source

Quick Facts About Manhattan Bridge

11. The main span of the bridge is 1,470 feet (448 meters) long and the suspension cables are 3,224 feet (983 m) long.

12. The total length of the Manhattan Bridge is 6,855 feet (2,089 meters) and it’s about 120 feet (37 meters) wide.

13. The Towers have a height of 336 feet (102 meters) and the clearance below is 135 feet (41.1 meters).

14. Manhattan Bridge is shorter than the Williamsburg Bridge (7,308 feet – 2,227 meters), and longer than the Brooklyn Bridge (‎6,016 ft (1,833.7 m). These are the two other main suspension bridges crossing the East River.

15. The bridge has a total of 7 roadways on 2 decks, 4 railway tracks for trains of the New York City Subway, a bicycle lane, and pedestrian walkways.

Manhattan bridge facts

16. It’s considered the reference bridge for several future suspension bridges, including the famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

17. It’s estimated that nearly 90,000 vehicles cross the river by using Manhattan Bridge every single day.

18. The Manhattan entrance is decorated with a Greek Revival triumphal arch and colonnade which were completed in 1915. The monument was part of the “City Beautiful movement” of the early 20th century.

Manhattan Bridge arch and colonnade

19. The arch and colonnade were designated as a New York City Landmark on November 25, 1975.

20. Manhattan Bridge itself was designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. This is the organization that credited the Brooklyn Bridge as one of the 7 Wonders of the Industrial World.

Interesting facts about Manhattan Bridge
Manhattan Bridge side view. / Source

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