Washington Bridge

The Washington Bridge is a 2,375-foot (724 m)-long arch bridge over the Harlem River in New York City between the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx. The span, opened in 1888, connects 181st Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Washington Heights, Manhattan, with University Avenue in Morris Heights, Bronx. It carries six lanes of traffic, as well as sidewalks on both sides. Ramps at either end of the bridge connect to the Trans-Manhattan Expressway and the Cross-Bronx Expressway.

Washington Bridge
Wash Br Harlem water jeh.JPG
Main arch over Harlem River; secondary arch over Metro-North Railroad and Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx
Coordinates40°50′49″N 73°55′41″W / 40.84694°N 73.92806°W / 40.84694; -73.92806Coordinates: 40°50′49″N 73°55′41″W / 40.84694°N 73.92806°W / 40.84694; -73.92806
Carries6 lanes of roadway; two sidewalks
CrossesHarlem River
LocaleManhattan and the Bronx, New York City
Maintained byNew York City Department of Transportation
DesignArch bridge
Total length2,375 feet (724 m)
Longest span510 feet (160 m)
Clearance below134 feet (41 m)
OpenedDecember 1, 1888; 131 years ago (December 1, 1888)
Daily traffic57,011 (2012)[1]
Washington Bridge is located in New York City
Washington Bridge
Location in New York City

The bridge is operated and maintained by the New York City Department of Transportation. It once carried U.S. Route 1, which now travels over the Alexander Hamilton Bridge.


The total length of the bridge, including approaches, is 2,375 feet (724 m). The parallel main spans of the steel arch bridge stretch 510 feet (160 m) over the Harlem River, providing 134 feet (41 m) of vertical clearance and 354 feet (108 m) of horizontal clearance. The tidal maximum (mean higher high water) is 4.9 ft (1.5 m) and extreme low water is -3.5 compared to mean lower low water.


Ernest Lawson's painting Spring Night (1913)

This two-hinged arch bridge was designed by Charles C. Schneider and Wilhelm Hildenbrand, with modifications to the design made by the Union Bridge Company, William J. McAlpine, Theodore Cooper and DeLemos & Cordes, with Edward H. Kendall as consulting architect.[2][3] The original design was pared down to bring the bridge's cost to $3 million. The bridge features steel-arch construction with two 510-foot-long (150m) main spans and masonry approaches. Construction began in 1886, and the bridge opened to pedestrian traffic on December 1, 1888. The plan had been to open the bridge to vehicular traffic on February 22, 1889 — Washington's Birthday and the centennial anniversary of the first Presidency — but the full opening was delayed until December 1889.

Washington Bridge and Harlem River Speedway, early 20th century

In 1913, a young architect named John Bruns is reported to have jumped from the Washington bridge and lived. He was quoted at his trial: "Why, Your Honor, it was a nerve test. Some friends had been taunting me on my lack of nerve because I had never married, and as we talked over the matter I made a bet that I would dive from the bridge."[4]

After completion of the George Washington Bridge in 1931, traffic off the bridge into the Bronx traveled over the Washington Bridge. Starting in the 1940s, ramps were built to connect the western end of the bridge to the 178th Street and 179th Street Tunnels leading to the George Washington Bridge. This allowed traffic to and from New Jersey to bypass the congested local streets of Upper Manhattan.

The Alexander Hamilton Bridge was planned in the mid-1950s to provide a direct connection between Robert Moses's proposed Trans-Manhattan and Cross-Bronx Expressways and to accommodate the additional traffic resulting from the addition of the six-lane lower level to the George Washington Bridge. The completion of the Alexander Hamilton Bridge in 1963 diverted much of the traffic away from the Washington Bridge.

The Washington Bridge underwent reconstruction from 1989 to 1993.[2][3]

Public transportationEdit

The Washington Bridge carries the Bx3, Bx11, Bx13, Bx35, Bx36 bus routes operated by New York City Bus.[5]

Entrance to Washington Bridge, 1898

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "2012 New York City Bridge Traffic Volumes" (PDF). Retrieved September 23, 2014.
  2. ^ a b New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Dolkart, Andrew S.; Postal, Matthew A. (2009). Postal, Matthew A. (ed.). Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1.
  3. ^ a b White, Norval; Willensky, Elliot & Leadon, Fran (2010). AIA Guide to New York City (5th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 570. ISBN 978-0-19538-386-7.
  4. ^ "Diving 135 feet off Bridge, cries "I'm all right!" Bruns says his plunge from Washington Structure was a Nerve Test". The Evening World. June 21, 1913. p. 5.
  5. ^ "Bronx Bus Map" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. September 2017. Retrieved April 24, 2018.

External linksEdit