Bridges and tunnels in New York City

J train on the Williamsburg Bridge

New York City's harbor and multiple waterways are what once made it the center of trade, but today they make it a city of bridges and tunnels. Over 2,000 of them provide uninterrupted vehicular movement throughout the region. Several agencies claim jurisdiction over this network of crossings including the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), DOT, New York State Department of Transportation, New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Amtrak and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

Nearly all of the city's major bridges and several of its tunnels, have broken or set records. The Holland Tunnel was the world's first vehicular tunnel when it opened in 1927. The George Washington Bridge and Verrazano-Narrows Bridge were the world's longest suspension bridges when opened in 1931 and 1964 respectively.



New York's crossings date back to 1693, when its first bridge, known as the King's Bridge, was constructed over Spuyten Duyvil Creek between Manhattan and the Bronx. The bridge, composed of stone abutments and a timber deck, was demolished in 1917. The oldest crossing still standing is High Bridge which connects Manhattan to the Bronx over the Harlem River. This bridge was built to carry water to the city as part of the Croton Aqueduct system.

Ten bridges and 1 tunnel serving the city have been awarded some level of landmark status. The Holland Tunnel was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993 in recognition of its pioneering role as the first mechanically ventilated vehicular underwater tunnel, operating since 1927. The George Washington, High Bridge, Hell Gate, Queensboro, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Macombs Dam, Carroll Street, University Heights and Washington bridges have all received landmark status as well.

New York features bridges of all lengths and types, carrying everything from cars, trucks and subway trains to pedestrians and bicycles. The George Washington Bridge, spanning the Hudson River between New York City and Fort Lee, New Jersey, is the world's busiest bridge in terms of vehicular traffic.[1][2] The George Washington Bridge, Verrazano Narrows Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge are considered among the most beautiful in the world. Others are more well known for their functional importance such as the Williamsburg Bridge which has 2 heavy rail transit tracks, 8 traffic lanes and a pedestrian sidewalk.

Bridges by water body

East River

From south to north:

Name Opening year Length Comments
Brooklyn Bridge 1883 1825 m Oldest suspension bridge
Manhattan Bridge 1909 2089 m (B D N Q subway service)
Williamsburg Bridge 1903 2227.48 m (J M Z subway service)
Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge 1909 1135.0 m Also known as 59th Street Bridge
Roosevelt Island Bridge 1955 876.91 m East channel only
Robert F. Kennedy Bridge 1936 1569.72 m I-278
formerly named The Triboro Bridge
Hell Gate Bridge 1916 5181.6 m Rail only
Rikers Island Bridge 1966 1280.16 m Only connects Rikers Island to Queens
Bronx–Whitestone Bridge 1939 1149.10 m I-678
Throgs Neck Bridge 1961 886.97 m I-295

Harlem River

Ward's Island Bridge in "open" position

From south to north, east to west:

Name Opening year Length Comments
Wards Island Bridge 1951 285.6m Pedestrian only
Robert F. Kennedy Bridge 1936 1569.72 m
Willis Avenue Bridge 1901
Third Avenue Bridge 1898
Park Avenue Bridge 1954 Metro-North Railroad
Madison Avenue Bridge 1910
145th Street Bridge 1905
Macombs Dam Bridge 1895 774 m
High Bridge 1848 600 m Oldest surviving bridge in New York City. Currently closed for repairs.
Alexander Hamilton Bridge 1963 724 m I-95
Washington Bridge 1888 723.9 m
University Heights Bridge 1908 82 m
Broadway Bridge 1962 Also known as Harlem Ship Canal Bridge
(1 subway service)
Henry Hudson Bridge 1936 673 m
Spuyten Duyvil Bridge 1899 Rail only

Hudson River

George Washington Bridge, spanning the Hudson River between New York City and New Jersey. Historic American Engineering Record photo
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
Name Opening year Length Comments
George Washington Bridge 1931 1450.85 m Handles 290,000 vehicles per day)[3]

New York Bay

Name Opening year Length Comments
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge 1964 2039.1 m I-278

Newtown Creek

Name Opening year Length Comments
Kosciusko Bridge 1939 1,835 m I-278
Pulaski Bridge 1954 860 m McGuinness Blvd.
J. J. Byrne Memorial Bridge 1987 55 m a.k.a. Greenpoint Avenue Bridge
Grand Street Bridge
Metropolitan Avenue Bridge


The Bronx

Name Opening year Length Comments
Hutchinson River (heading upriver)
Pelham Bridge 1908 Shore Road
Hutchinson River Pky Bridge
Westchester Creek
Unionport Bridge
Bronx River
Eastern Boulevard Bridge I-278
Pelham Bay
City Island Bridge 1901 City Island Road


Ninth Street Bridge, spanning Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn.
Name Opening year Length Comments
Mill Basin
Mill Basin Bridge
Gowanus Canal
Union Street Bridge
Carroll Street Bridge
Third Street Bridge
Ninth Street Bridge (F G subway service)
Hamilton Avenue Bridge
Rockaway Inlet (Brooklyn and Queens)
Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge 1937 1226 m


Name Opening year Length Comments
Dutch Kills
Borden Avenue Bridge
Hunters Point Avenue Bridge
Jamaica Bay
Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge 1970
The Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge
Grassy Bay Subway Bridge (A subway service)
Howard Beach to Broad Channel.
South Channel Subway Bridge (A S subway service)
Swing Bridge, Broad Channel to The Rockaways
102nd Street Bridge Connecting Hamilton Beach at Russell Street with Howard Beach, also known as "Lenihan's Bridge".
Hawtree Creek Bridge 163rd Avenue and 99th Street in Howard Beach across to Hamilton Beach at Rau Court and Davenport Court
Rockaway Inlet (Brooklyn and Queens)
Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge 1937 1226 m

Staten Island

Name Opening year Length Comments
Arthur Kill
Goethals Bridge 1928 2164.08 m I-278
Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge 1959 170.08 m CSX and M&E rail lines
Outerbridge Crossing 1928 3093 m NJ 440/NY 440
Kill Van Kull
Bayonne Bridge 1931 1761.74 m NY 440/NJ 440


In contrast to New York's bridges, its tunnels receive substantially less attention and praise. Yet the four vehicle tunnels that connect Manhattan with Long Island and New Jersey – the Brooklyn Battery, Queens Midtown, Holland and Lincoln – are a critical part of managing the flow of people into and out of the city each day.

Each of the tunnels that run underneath the East and Hudson rivers were marvels of engineering when first constructed. The Holland Tunnel is the oldest of the vehicular tunnels, opening to great fanfare in 1927 as the first mechanically ventilated underwater tunnel. The Queens Midtown Tunnel was opened in 1940 to relieve the congestion on the city's bridges. Each of its tubes were designed 1½ feet wider than the Holland Tunnel in order to accommodate the wider cars of the period. When the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel opened in 1950 it was the longest continuous underwater vehicular tunnel in the world, a title which it still holds. The Lincoln Tunnel has three tubes linking midtown Manhattan to New Jersey, a configuration which provides the flexibility to provide four lanes in one direction during rush-hour or three lanes in each direction.

All four underwater road tunnels were built by Ole Singstad: the Holland Tunnel's original chief engineer Clifford Milburn Holland died, as did his successor, Milton H. Freeman, after which Singstad became chief engineer, finishing the Holland Tunnel and then building the remaining tunnels.

East River

PATH train emerging from the Hudson tubes, into the Exchange Place station
Traveling through the Holland Tunnel, from Manhattan to Jersey City, New Jersey.

From south to north:

Name Opening year Length Comments
Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel 1950 2,779 m (9,117 ft) I-478
Joralemon Street Tunnel 1908 IRT Lexington Avenue Line (4 5 subway services)
Montague Street Tunnel 1920 BMT Broadway Line (N R subway services)
Clark Street Tunnel 1919 1,800 m (5,900 ft) IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line (2 3 subway services)
Cranberry Street Tunnel 1933 IND Eighth Avenue Line (A C subway services)
Rutgers Street Tunnel 1936 IND Sixth Avenue Line (F subway service)
14th Street Tunnel 1924 BMT Canarsie Line (L subway service)
East River Tunnels 1910 1,204 m (3,949 ft) part of the New York Tunnel Extension
Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road
Queens–Midtown Tunnel 1940 1,955 m (6,414 ft) I-495
Steinway Tunnel 1915 IRT Flushing Line (7 <7> subway services)
53rd Street Tunnel 1933 IND Queens Boulevard Line (E M subway services)
60th Street Tunnel 1920 BMT Broadway Line (N Q R subway services)
63rd Street Tunnel 1989 960 m (3,140 ft) upper level: IND 63rd Street Line (F subway services)
lower level: future LIRR to Grand Central Terminal

Harlem River

From south to north:

Name Opening year Length Comments
Lexington Avenue Tunnel 1918 IRT Lexington Avenue Line (4 5 6 <6> subway services)
149th Street Tunnel 1905 195 m (641 ft) IRT White Plains Road Line (2 subway service)
Concourse Tunnel 1933 IND Concourse Line (B D subway services)

Hudson River

From south to north:

Name Opening year Length Comments
Downtown Hudson Tubes 1909 1,720 m (5,650 ft) Montgomery-Cortlandt Tunnels
Port Authority Trans-Hudson
Holland Tunnel 1927 south tube: 2,551 m (8,371 ft)
north tube: 2,608 m (8,558 ft)
Uptown Hudson Tubes 1908 1,700 m (5,500 ft) Hoboken-Morton Tunnels
Port Authority Trans-Hudson
North River Tunnels 1910 1,900 m (6,100 ft) part of New York Tunnel Extension
Amtrak and New Jersey Transit
Lincoln Tunnel south tube: 1957
center tube: 1937
north tube: 1945
south tube: 2,440 m (8,006 ft)
center tube: 2,504 m (8,216 ft)
north tube: 2,281 m (7,482 ft)
NJ 495/I-495

Other bridges and tunnels

Bridges and Tunnels by use

The relative average number of inbound vehicles between 5 am and 11 am to Midtown and Lower Manhattan are:

  1. Queensboro Bridge: 31,000
  2. Lincoln Tunnel: 25,944
  3. Brooklyn Bridge: 22,241
  4. Williamsburg Bridge: 18,339
  5. Queens-Midtown Tunnel: 17,968
  6. Holland Tunnel: 16,257
  7. Brooklyn Battery Tunnel: 14,496
  8. Manhattan Bridge: 13,818


  1. ^ "Port Authority of New York and New Jersey - George Washington Bridge". Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  2. ^ George Washington Bridge turns 75 years old: Huge flag, cake part of celebration, Times Herald-Record, October 24, 2006. "The party, however, will be small in comparison to the one that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey organized for 5,000 people to open the bridge to traffic in 1931. And it won't even be on what is now the world's busiest bridge for fear of snarling traffic."
  3. ^ "2008 NYSDOT Traffic Data Report". New York State Department of Transportation. Appendix C. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 


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