One of the three suspension bridges that span the East River
. It was the last of the three to be completed, in 1908, following the Brooklyn Bridge
(1886) and the Williamsburg Bridge
(1903). The Manhattan Bridge sits just north of the Brooklyn Bridge, and feeds from Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn and Canal Street in Manhattan. At the Manhattan end is a grand arched entranceway that has fallen into disrepair.
The span contains a lower level consisting of a center roadway flanked by two sets of tracks referred to as the northside and southside tracks). The upper level is a roadway. Both road levels are fed from surface streets as well as the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway on the Brooklyn side and the FDR Drive on the Manhattan side. A nice walkway and bikeway on the south side has recently opened after years of construction.
The bridge was built primarily to serve as rail transit crossing. Initially the Brooklyn Rapid Transit corporation, later the Brooklyn Manhattan Transit corporation, or BMT, operated streetcar tracks on the north side of the bridge and subway system tracks on the south side which emerged from Brooklyn and fed under Canal Street to the Broadway subway. Streetcar service was later discontinued. The BMT was consolidated under city ownership in 1940, and in 1967 the tracks on the south side were connected into the Canal Street connection to the Broadway subway and the north side tracks were routed through the new Chrystie Street connection to the new Sixth Avenue Express line. All subsequent service has been via this new connection, and currently features the B, D, and Q Trains.
Years of trains operating only on the north side tracks have taken their toll on the bridge. Several years ago there was a major reconstruction, and an even more major one is set to begin within a year which may shut down transit service on the bridge altogether, as well as the roadways.