The Navigator

NYC’S FIVE MOST BREATHTAKING SKYBRIDGES

A skybridge connecting the American Copper Buildings, the first built in the last 80 years, may also be the most dramatic

By JOHANNA ROTHSEID

Skybridges, the covered walkways that link two buildings far above street-level traffic, are breathtaking for their urban planning practicality and engineering audacity. Hundreds of feet above city streets, the walkways both protect pedestrians from cold weather and make for quick access between buildings. In New York City, the structures debuted in the late 19th century and caught on in the early 20th century with architects who added shops to these walkways, imagining a city where pedestrians kept their distance from street traffic.

Now, in a gorgeous architectural back-to-the-future moment, the skybridge is returning to New York at the American Copper Buildings, the undulating pair of residential towers currently under construction at 35th Street and First Avenue. Forty stories up, you’ll see the first skybridge completed in the city in 80 years. The skybridge not only houses a 75-foot lap pool, Turkish bath and gym; it’s also a nod to a certain type of New York City nostalgia – one forever grounded in the city’s futurist fantasy.

While American Copper is stepping forward, look back on 5 New York City skybridges you’d be crazy to miss.

TRIBECA

Perhaps the most famous skybridge in New York is the Staple Street skybridge, built in 1907 as part of New York Hospital, and connecting to its medical clinic. The bridge is the city’s lowest, anchored just above the second floors of two brick buildings and spanning Staple Street. The building and walkway were sold in 2015 to a private buyer, but don’t let that stop you from sauntering to TriBeCa for a wow-worthy picture.

PHOTO: ISAAC SILVERA/UNTAPPEDCITIES.COM

stanton street skybridge

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS

New York-Presbyterian Hospital laid the groundwork for future skybridges by installing six of them on their Washington Heights campus. Hospital staff members use the walkways to go in-between medical buildings for work and emergencies. Visitors can experience them too, either during a campus visit or in a cab ride down Riverside Drive, where passing under the slanting skybridges makes for an aesthetic commute!

PHOTO: SCOUTINGNY.COM

metropolitan life skybridge

Chelsea

Did you know that the building that houses Chelsea Market was originally the Nabisco factory? Head to 15th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues to see the art-deco skybridge that once connected Nabisco’s factory to their offices.

PHOTO: DAN DELUCA/FLICKR.COM

chelsea skybridge

HERALD SQUARE

A century ago, Gimbels department store moved to New York City and set up shop in Herald Square. They then hired Shreve, Lamb & Blake, the Empire State Building’s architects, to design a copper skybridge connecting the main store to its shopping annex. Gimbels is long gone, but you can still mosey past Broadway to 32nd street and 6th avenue to give your regards to this gorgeous walkway.

PHOTO: MICHELLE YOUNG/UNTAPPEDCITIES.COM

gimbel's skybridge

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN

It’s time to say goodbye: For the past 5 years, street artist Stephen Powers’ multi-surface mural, “Love Letter to Brooklyn”, has emblazoned the old Macy’s parking garage and skybridges in Downtown Brooklyn. However, the lot was sold in 2015 and the skybridges, along with the mural, are being removed. Sadly, we’ll no longer see Brooklyn-inspired stanzas when walking down Hoyt Street — marking the end of an era in New York.

PHOTO: MICHELLE YOUNG/UNTAPPEDCITIES.COM

brooklyn skybridge

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