The New York City Five Bridges Run

As an interesting option for a long training run, runners can put together routes that combine traversals of multiple of the city’s bridges. In this article we describe a route that traverses five major bridges – the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro bridges over the East River plus the Pulaski Bridge that links the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.

We describe an 11.5-mile route starting on the Hudson River in Tribeca and finishing in Central Park. If you want a longer run, you can easily tack on a piece of the Hudson River trail at the start or some running in Central Park at the finish. The trail traverses parts of Brooklyn and Queens and includes a roughly 5-mile piece of the NYC Marathon route from Williamsburg through Queens and across the Queensboro Bridge. There is a detailed printable map of this route, including public transit connections, in the Fun on Foot New York City downloadable map set available for a nominal charge at www.funonfoot.com.

Start at the Hudson River trail at Chambers Street and West Street in Tribeca. Cross West Street via either the pedestrian overpass or the street-level pedestrian crossing. Immediately on the left is a park with restrooms in the left corner.

Continue along Chambers Street, switching at your convenience to Warren Street, the next parallel street south, to the intersection of Broadway and Warren Street. Continue along the line of Warren Street into the park by City Hall. Exit the park at the intersection of Park Row and Centre Street. Cross the street to join the walkway onto the Brooklyn Bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge is steeped in history (see the book Fun on Foot in New York) and the only problem with it now is the enormous number of tourists who flock there and congest the walkway. Fortunately, most of them do not go far and the crowds thin towards the Brooklyn side.

As you approach the Brooklyn end of the bridge the pedestrian trail forks. Take the left ramp which leads down to some stairs which exit onto the sidewalk of Prospect Street under the bridge. Go left along Prospect Street, right into Adams Street, and left along and across Sands Street to the entrance to the pedestrian walkway of the Manhattan Bridge. This bridge crossing is uncrowded and exhilarating and you can run as fast as you wish.

The pedestrian ramp terminates at the intersection of Canal Street and Bowery. Cross Canal Street and go one short block to the right to enter Chrystie Street and follow the little “greenbelt” between Chrystie and Forsyth Streets along the edge of Chinatown. It is not so pretty these days, but offers reasonable running conditions for such a highly populated area, and there are restrooms along the way. Turn right along Delancey Street to the Clinton Street intersection where the Williamsburg Bridge walkway starts.

The Williamsburg Bridge walkway is another excellent place for running, with plenty of room for all and bicyclists separated from pedestrians on their own pathway. Use the pedestrian pathway on the south side of the bridge. Complete the crossing and exit the bridge down the right-side ramp and stairs to Bedford Street. At this point you start following the route of the NYC Marathon.

Go left along Bedford Street through the heart of Williamsburg. You can use restrooms at the Metropolitan Pool and Recreation Center and in McCarren Park. At Lorimer Street go straight ahead. The NYC Marathon course goes left into Manhattan Avenue here but that is a very busy, congested street so we suggest going a further short block east and going left into Leonard Street. Go right into Greenpoint Avenue to rejoin the marathon course and then left into McGuiness Boulevard.

Cross the spacious Pulaski Bridge, passing the halfway mark of the NYC Marathon and entering Queens. Go left into 48th Avenue and then right into Vernon Boulevard. At 10th Street bear right and enter eastbound 44th Drive. Before reaching Jackson Avenue go left into Crescent Street. This brings you to the point where the NYC Marathon would enter the road ramp onto the Queensboro Bridge. However, without the streets closed we cannot go there. Instead, go right one block to 27th Street where there is a pedestrian crossing allowing you to cross to the northern side of the bridge approach. Go left and you will find the entrance ramp to the Queensboro Bridge pedestrian and bicycle walkway.

The Queensboro Bridge crossing is exhilarating and little different from the experience crossing this bridge in the marathon (except for much less traffic on marathon day). The walkway ends beyond First Avenue but you are forced to loop back and exit the ramp at the intersection of First Avenue and E 60th Street. Go right under the bridge to E 59th Street and go right along that street westward to Central Park for a total distance of 11.5 miles at the Avenue of the Americas park entrance.