Crossing the East River

Williamsburg Bridge
Williamsburg Bridge

December 19, 1903
New Yorkers Celebrated the Opening of the Williamsburg Bridge

Have you ever ridden in a horse-drawn carriage? Can you imagine what it would be like to cross a bridge during rush hour with everyone in a carriage instead of an automobile? The Williamsburg Bridge was one of the last major bridges built for the horse and carriage, as well as for pedestrians and bicyclists. On December 19, 1903, New Yorkers celebrated the opening of the Williamsburg Bridge, the second suspension bridge to span the East River. (The Brooklyn Bridge was the first.) How is the bridge used today?

The 1,600-foot Williamsburg Bridge connects Manhattan to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Until the 1920s, the Williamsburg was the world’s longest suspension bridge. As times changed, the bridge became a route for trolley cars and trains. Today, cars and buses have replaced the trolley cars. Instead of a train, more than 90,000 riders a day cross the bridge on the subway. Although the horse-drawn carriage has been relegated to the past, you can still bicycle or walk across the Williamsburg Bridge just as New Yorkers did more than 100 years ago.