Along the East River you will find various bridges connecting Manhattan to other boroughs. One of those bridges is the Queensboro Bridge, also known as the 59th Street Bridge or Ed Koch Bridge.
On the northern side of the bridge, you will find a pedestrian walkway and bicycle lane for those that wish to cross the bridge without a car. During a walk or bike along the pathway you will get views of the East River, Roosevelt Island, the tramway, and various buildings of the NYC skyline.
This guide will talk through how to take part of a walk or bike ride across and what to expect (and look out for) along the way.
1) Queensboro Bridge Background
Before talking through the walk across the Queensboro Bridge, I thought it may be useful to give a little bit of background about the bridge itself.
→ The bridge is known as a double decked cantilever bridge and was completed in the year 1909, after around 6 years of construction.
→ It connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Queens over the East River, spanning between the Upper East Side and Long Island City.
→ In the middle of the East River, below the bridge, you will find Roosevelt Island. While you cannot walk directly from the bridge onto Roosevelt Island, you will be able to take in the view on your way across.
→ For much of its history it was simply known as the Queensboro Bridge (or 59th Street Bridge). However, in 2010, NYC decided to rename it as the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge (named after a former mayor).
→ The bridge spans 3,724 feet in length and comprises of 9 lanes (4 on the upper level and 5 on the lower level), and 1 lane for pedestrians and bicyclists. Including the approaches, the total length comes in at 7,449 feet.
→ As of today, there is just one shared pedestrian and bicycle lane on the northern part of the bridge. Currently, construction is taking place to open up a pedestrian only lane on the southern side of the bridge. Estimated completion for the project is year-end of 2023.
2) Pedestrian and Bicycle Entrances
Whether you are planning to bicycle across or walk across, you will enter on the same pathway from Manhattan or Queens. In the future though, do expect this to change as the new pedestrian pathway opens up.
Queensboro Bridge Manhattan Side Pedestrian Entrance
On the Manhattan side of the bridge you will find the entrance to the pathway on the southeast corner of 60th Street & Queensboro Bridge Exit. As you are walking on 60th Street from 2nd Avenue to 1st Avenue you should see the entranceway on your right hand side.
Closest Subway: 59th Street Subway -> 4/5/6/N/R/W
Queensboro Bridge Queens Side Pedestrian Entrance
On the Queens side of the bridge you will find the entrance of the pathway at the intersection of Queens Blvd N and Crescent Street.
Remember, at both entrances (for now), pedestrians and bicyclists enter at the same entrance. Be careful as you are making your way on as it can be a bit hectic with everyone merging onto the pathway.
Closest Subway: Queens Plaza Subway -> N/W/7
3) Helpful Things to Know
Here are some helpful things to know about the pathway along with some tips to better prepare you for a visit.
→ The total length of the pathway is just under 1.5 miles. Expect a walk across to take around 30 minutes with no stops. If taking photos along the way, plan on spending a bit more time on the bridge.
→ There are no restrooms, food, drinks, or souvenirs sold on the bridge itself. However, once you arrive in Manhattan or Queens, you should find anything you are looking for.
→ Since the bridge is elevated over the river, it can get windy at times. Be sure to come prepared with appropriate attire based on weather conditions.
→ You will also find the pathway directly next to the car lanes (separated by a barrier). This is different from some other bridge walks, where you are above or below the actual cars.
→ The pathway is technically split into 4 lanes – two for bicyclists and two for pedestrians. If walking from Manhattan to Queens, the walking path will be on your left (closest to the water) and the bicycle path on your right (closest to the cars).
→ Since this is one open pathway, it can get dangerous with pedestrians and bicyclists all in one. If you are trying to overtake someone in front of you, be sure to take a quick glance behind you as bicyclists may be speeding down the pathway.
The above two points should be resolved in the future when they split the pedestrians and bicyclists into two completely different pathways.
Photography Note: If you are coming to take some photos, just note you will find fencing throughout the walk across. There are parts where you can still get clear shots across in either direction, but it will take a bit more of ingenuity.
» Check out this helpful guide that talks all about the best places to stay in New York during a visit
4) Queensboro Bridge Walk Highlights
While by no means is the Queensboro Bridge walk / bike the most scenic of bridges around the city (such as the Brooklyn Bridge walk), it still does have its unique highlights. As you are making your walk across be on the lookout for some of the top spots along the way.
Once that southbound pedestrian lane opens up, I will be sure to update this article to give you more highlights and views to expect on the other side.
Roosevelt Island Tram
The tram connecting Manhattan to Roosevelt Island is one highlight that no other bridge walk will have. As you are making your way across the bridge, you will see the bright red trams coming and going in either direction.
Since Roosevelt Island is in the middle of the East River, the views of the trams will happen in the first portion of the walk (if starting in Manhattan).
I enjoyed taking some photos of the trams with the bridge and Manhattan skyline in view, as well as get a couple nice reflection photos off of the nearby glass buildings.
As you are getting closer to Roosevelt Island, you will also be able to frame the tram right in the middle of the East River. From there though, the trams will start their descent onto the island and you will move onto the next portion of pathway.
If you have time before or after your Queensboro Bridge experience, feel free to head onto the tramway itself. The entrance is just a few minutes’ walk from the Manhattan side entrance.
Roosevelt Island offers a whole bunch for its visitors including a walkway full of Manhattan skyline viewpoints, Cherry Blossoms in the springtime, and the Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park.
As you are walking across the Queensboro Bridge pathway though, you should be able to see the view from above.
1st Avenue & York Avenue Views
It is rare to be able to get elevated views straight down the middle of an avenue. But as you make the walk up on the Queensboro Bridge pathway, you will have views of both 1st Avenue and York Avenue looking northbound.
You will be able to enjoy the tree lined streets with the cars, taxis, and pedestrians down below surrounded by high-rises on either side.
East River Bridges
Along the walk along the bridge, you will come across views in either direction of even more bridges. To the south will be the Williamsburg Bridge and to the north will be the Roosevelt Island Bridge, Robert F Kennedy Bridge, and Hell Gate Bridge.
World Trade Center
While the north side views of the pathway are easier to enjoy, you will also be able to get views looking southbound too. Now, these views won’t be perfect as you have multiple lanes of traffic and fencing obstructing the view from time to time.
However, I did find it interesting that some of the most iconic buildings of the NYC skyline can be seen from the walkway.
One of the buildings that you should get frequent views throughout is the World Trade Center. While it will come into view several times during a walk or bike ride, the views closer to the Queens side were better. This is because there is less fencing blocking the view on this side of the bridge.
Empire State Building
You will also get some views of the Empire State Building throughout a walk across. Similarly, these views will come and go but you certainly will be able to take it all in.
The last main building you will be able to catch a view of is the Chrysler Building. This one should go hand in hand with the views of the Empire State Building as they are in the same general area.
As you get closer to the Queens side of the bridge, you will be able to get vaster views of nearby Long Island City. While the skyline doesn’t hold up to the Manhattan side, I still found some good shots to take along the way.
The Pathway & Bridge
Last but not least is the pathway and bridge itself. I enjoyed taking in the panorama looking back at Manhattan closer to the Queens side of the bridge. Here you are really able to get the pathway in view with the bridge above, and the NYC skyline out back.
As you get farther along the pathway, you will begin to lose some elevation and be welcomed to the street level. From here, you can decide to walk back across, hop on the nearby subway, or maybe visit the Queensbridge Park along the river.
So, if you are looking for a more under the radar activity to do in NYC, then opt for a Queensboro Bridge walk. It should give you a different perspective than some other walks around the city, and makes for an easy thing to do if you are around the area.
If you have any questions or comments about the walk, be sure to add them down below. Also, be sure to check out some other New York itineraries and guides up on the site like the top things to do in Central Park.
Have fun out there and safe travels!