How Many Bridges Circumnavigating Manhattan?

By Vladimir Brezina

Some of the Manhattan bridgesIt’s interesting to look occasionally through the search terms that people have entered to reach your blog. And recently, quite a few people have been arriving at Wind Against Current with the query “how many bridges circumnavigating Manhattan”. They’ll have been disappointed in not finding an answer—until now!

Another popular query is “how many islands in New York City”. Unfortunately, that question does not have a definite answer—it depends on what you consider an island, and on the state of the tide.

But “how many bridges circumnavigating Manhattan” does have a very definite answer. And the answer is…

20½.

Here they all are, in photos taken on our many kayak circumnavigations of Manhattan, counterclockwise starting from the Battery.

Manhattan Bridges

1. Brooklyn Bridge

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2. Manhattan Bridge

Manhattan Bridge

3. Williamsburg Bridge

Williamsburg Bridge

4. Queensboro (Ed Koch) Bridge

Queensboro Bridge

5. Wards Island Bridge

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6. Triborough (Robert F. Kennedy) Bridge

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7. Willis Avenue Bridge

Willis Avenue Bridge

8. Third Avenue Bridge

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9. Park Avenue Bridge

Park Avenue Bridge

10. Madison Avenue Bridge

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11. 145th Street Bridge

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12. Macombs Dam Bridge

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13. High Bridge

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14. Alexander Hamilton Bridge

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15. Washington Bridge

Washington Bridge

16. University Heights Bridge

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17. Broadway Bridge

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18. Henry Hudson Bridge

Henry Hudson Bridge

19. Spuyten Duyvil Bridge

Spuyten Duyvil Bridge

and finally the biggest one of them all,

20. George Washington Bridge

IMGP2380 cropped smallGeorge Washington Bridge 2

That’s only twenty. What about that half?

20½. Roosevelt Island Bridge

which spans only the eastern half of the East River, the channel between Queens and Roosevelt Island. Here seen with a seal—

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87 responses to “How Many Bridges Circumnavigating Manhattan?

  1. Vlad, A nice refresher! Thanks! I can’t believe we didn’t photograph them all when Jeanie and I paddled around last month. I guess we will just have to do it again! Ha!

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    • I guess you will!

      I actually also found that, despite so many circumnavigations, I did not have any photos of some of the more boring bridges (whereas I have hundreds of photos of the Brooklyn Bridge, for instance). So a while back I made a point of taking at least one photo of each…

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      • Have you seen any of the Harlem River bridges open for vessels?

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        • Well, the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, which is an Amtrak railway bridge, opens all the time—in fact I believe it’s supposed to remain open by default, unless a train is coming (as opposed to all the others, which remain closed unless somebody calls for them to open). It has to open because it is only a few feet above the water, so almost nothing—except for kayaks, of course!—can pass otherwise.

          But I’ve never seen any of the other bridges open. All of them, except the really high bridges, can open, and presumably some of them, especially those in the lower Harlem River, do so on occasion because, when there is construction, there are sometimes fairly large tugs and construction barges moored past them. But normally the largest boat that goes through the Harlem River is the Circle Line, and that can pass under all of the closed bridges except for the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge.

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        • “Except for kayaks” and canoes, “of course!”. Ha! A gaggle of wake makers were circling at the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge when we rounded the bend by Columbia. Like an organism to small for the filter medium we slid under the bridge and were safely on the New Jersey shore by the time they “opened the gates”.

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        • :-) That’s how it is!

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      • Now I know it was the 145th Street Bridge that a welcoming committee of three sent us a message from. A New York greeting. Ha!

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  2. Wow! That many! Great pictures!

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  3. Gerald Blackstone

    Hi Vlad Good work Can Steve Blumling, Phil Giller and I distribute this to our Manh Circ participants next July Thanks, Jerry Blackstone

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  4. These shots are so cool!!! I love them. Portland only has 7 bridges in the city itself.

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    • If you include all the tributary waterways of the harbor, NYC probably has at least 50 bridges, quite possibly many more. Again, it kind of depends on what you mean by a bridge…

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      • Johna Till Johnson

        Hmm… I smell a project! “How many bridges in NYC?” Could be fun finding out!!

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        • Actually, “How many bridges in NYC?” has been in the Wind Against Current drafts folder for a couple of years now. That was my first thought. But I soon realized that “All Bridges of NYC” was going to be impossible to complete, as I kept coming up with ever more bridges and certainly I had no photos of most of them. But “All Bridges Around Manhattan” was a tractable subset…

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  5. very informational and interesting. great pictures as always! thank you.

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  6. Thanks for that guys. It’s good to know each and every one in case you are stuck somewhere and need assistance. Now we have good reference marks.

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    • If case you have to climb onto a bridge and call for a pizza delivery, you’ll be able to tell them which bridge to deliver it to. No joke—this is New York, after all! We almost did that once…

      Thanks, Taino!

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    • Johna Till Johnson

      You’re most welcome! It’s funny, I still can’t remember whether there are 15 or 16 in the Harlem… I can never keep count while paddling.

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  7. It’s so refreshing to know someone who is so enthralled by NYC, as I have always been. I pinned your photo of the George Washing Bridge on my New York City Pinterest Board at http://www.pinterest.com/gaylealstrom/new-york-city/. I hope you don’t mind.

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  8. Thanks. There are so many urban paddling opportunities. I’ve taken my maiden urban kayak camping, “Kayamping”, voyage and just loved it. I love the juxtaposition of the simple craft against the complexity of “civilization.” Nicely down and great pics.
    d

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    • Yes, I enjoyed your “urban kayaking” post!

      The fun thing about paddling in NYC is, you can have the urban paddling experience, encounters with big ships, nature, wildlife, surf, and the open ocean, all in the course of a single day trip :-)

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  9. Enjoyed the wonderful tour of the 20 and 1/2 bridges! Great photos.

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  10. This has to be one of the BEST BLOGS EVER !! ♛♛♛♛♛. I have a fraction of your viewers but I wanted to save it as special so I re-blogged you , great post , both of you!

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  11. Reblogged this on V A S T L Y C U R I O U S and commented:
    Great Blog ! Congratulations to you both on such knowledge , determination and buoyancy !!

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  12. They’ve added a few since I lived there. Quite a few. Hard to imagine how they could find room for more, but I’m sure they will. GREAT post.

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    • When did you live here? The most recent bridge was opened in 1963, and most (or their predecessors) have been in place since the early 20th century. But it’s easy to forget that many of the Harlem River bridges are there…

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  13. I didn’t realize that there were so many bridges. Oh wow!

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  14. Just wondering how many bridges are railway bridges?

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    • Two are railway bridges: the Park Avenue Bridge and the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge. High Bridge is a former aqueduct, and Wards Island Bridge is a pedestrian bridge. The rest are all road bridges, although in several cases they carry subway trains as well.

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  15. What a great post, not sure which one’s my favourite as there’s some right corkers there! 10/10 for cayaking underneath a bridge in the snow though! ;)

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  16. That is alot of bridges for one city. Just goes to show how big New York is.
    In the first one, the water looks pretty choppy. You are brave to take your camera out there!

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  17. That’s a lot of bridges. Very interesting :)

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  18. Reblogged this on Flickr Comments and commented:
    frizztext: I adore Vladimir Brezina’s morning sports: with a canoe round Manhattan!

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  19. the seal at the Roosevelt Island Bridge is a brother / sister (?) in mind with you addicted to the same preferences!

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  20. I had to try and pick a favorite…”High Bridge”…and the impressive George Washington…
    You’ve seen them all…do you have a favorite?

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  21. Hello there. We spent the whole morning on the topic of Manhattan bridges. The half-bridge was really interesting! We saw it on streetwiew in Google, with joints and control. Suddenly we caught sight of the four chimneys from Rawenwood power plant, and we came to think of Conspiracy Theory (1997) with Mel Gibson who shouts, Geronimo.
    Great post, thanks.

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  22. I lost count so I’m glad you were keeping track :) Great bridges! I have one of my own today (well, not my own personal one, you understand!)

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  23. amazing pictures ! And I only knew the 4 first of the list, of course…Thank you very much to bring us with you in your navigation ;-)

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  24. I love bridges, so I really enjoyed that post! Thank you! :)

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  25. Well done. So many bridges!

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  26. This is awesome….I’ve done the Circle Line Tour and the guide said 20 bridges, but I now realize you are a better guide :) I love your picture of the GWB with its golden hue….as I type this I can see its twinkling lights in the distance.

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    • No, the Circle Line guide was entirely correct, as the Circle Line always passes through the western channel of the East River past Roosevelt Island, and so never goes under the Roosevelt Island Bridge…

      The twinkling lights of the GWB are indeed very inspiring—lucky you! :-)

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  27. Thanks for the lesson Vlad….now I know another guide in NYC :)

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  28. Thought you New Yorkers don’t do anything by half!! ;-)

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  29. Wow – thanks for the link with the bridge links (triple entendre).- excuse the pun. Great map! I love the architecture of bridges with a special affinity for suspension birdges. Great photos of RFK and I love the sun hitting the George Washington bridge. The 1/2 bridge kept me in suspense. Happy Monday Vladimir.

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  30. Wow. So many bridges. New York is just so big at everything. Thanks

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  31. The Washington bridge = you wouldn’t even know you are in NY. Good post – a little bit different from the norm…

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