New York City is full of suspension bridges—Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg, George Washington, Triborough, Verrazano-Narrows, Whitestone Bridge, and the Throgs Neck. But which one was built first? And which one is the newest of the bunch?
New York's oldest suspension bridge is also its most popular. The Brooklyn Bridge was designed by German engineer and famed bridge architect John Augustus Roebling, and it was the first East River crossing to connect Brooklyn with lower Manhattan. After 24 years of construction, the bridge opened in 1883 and for a while, it was the longest suspension bridge of its time. Today, the approximately 1.1 mile long bridge is one of New York City’s most visited and recognized landmarks. So much so, that the Department of Transportation is even considering expanding the bridge’s pedestrian paths to alleviate congestion from all those visitors.
The young'un of the group would be the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, simply referred to as the Verrazano by many New Yorkers. It was designed by Swiss-American engineer Othmar Ammann, and was the last major city project to be overseen by the ever-controversial Robert Moses. The double-decker bridge connects Brooklyn to Staten Island and is the longest bridge in New York City—and, indeed, the entire country. Opening in two phases, the upper level debuted in 1964, and the lower opened five years later in 1969. It’s named after Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano—though his name is famously spelled wrong, causing people to ask MTA to fix the error. Though there aren’t any pedestrian pathways on the Verrazano Bridge, the site is occasionally opened up to pedestrians during big events like the annual TCS New York City Marathon.
The two bridges vary greatly in style; the Brooklyn Bridge features Gothic-style archways, stone anchorages, and a wood-planked pedestrian pathway. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge has towering anchorages as well but its design is more minimalist, though it's illuminated by 262 LED lights that really make it sparkle in the night.