Last week, I was driving down West 24th Street when I noticed something…
They’re tearing down the West 24th Street skybridge.
Once connecting the two buildings that comprised the now defunct International Toy Center, the southern building at 1107 Broadway is currently being converted into luxury condos. While there’s certainly no need for the bridge anymore, I’m sorry to see it go.
I love Manhattan’s skybridges, the kind that connect two buildings over busy streets. They’ve always reminded me of a future New York as imagined in the early 1900s, a time when it seems everyone expected the city’s thoroughfares to ascend with the tallest skyscrapers. Below, William Robinson Leigh’s 1908 Visionary City…
Sadly, the 21st century requires a decidedly grounded passage through Manhattan. However, a handful of skybridges can still be found around Manhattan that speak to that futuristic city that never was. Here they are:
The East 24th Street Skybridge
This is one of my favorite Manhattan skybridges, connecting 1 Madison Ave and 11 Madison Ave:
Decked out in gorgeous stainless steel, the bridge was erected at a time when both gargantuan buildings were owned by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.
Today, the offices are primarily occupied by Credit Suisse, with the tower portion soon to become an upscale hotel. No word on whether the bridge is still in use, though working lights can be seen from the street.
The Staple Street Skybridge
Manhattan’s lowest skybridge is nonetheless one of its most photographed.
Located on an archetypal New York alley lined with wonderful brick buildings and zig-zagging fire escapes, the Staple Street skybridge was built in 1907 to connect 9 Jay Street to 67 Hudson Street, which were then the House of Relief medical clinic, run by New York Hospital.
On the north side, the skybridge actually angles out…
…to wrap around the side of 67 Hudson:
To this day, 67 Hudson Street still houses medical offices:
Also, be sure to look to the third floor of the 9 Jay Street annex…
…where you’ll see a terra cotta emblem from its New York Hospital days.
The West 32nd Street Skybridge
Another one of my favorites dates to a time when the Macy’s flagship store had a rival just a block away.
This gorgeous three-story (!!) copper skybridge was built in 1925 to connect the Gimbels Department Store (today, the Manhattan Mall)…
…to an annex at 116 West 32nd Street.
The art deco skybridge is no longer in use, though someone was able to snap a few photos of its interior this past June.
The West 15th Street Skybridge
Our next skybridge is located where the Oreo cookie was invented.
Though most know it today as Chelsea Market, the enormous, block-sprawling complex was once home to the bakeries of Nabisco (from National Biscuit Company, formerly the New York Biscuit Company).
In 1930, this skybridge was built to connect the bakery to Nabisco’s offices across the street.
Today, the skybridge is no longer in use. I was told the bridge is boarded up on the annex side; no word on the Chelsea Market side. I love the arched windows and zig-zagging motif below:
In fact, Nabisco liked skybridges so much…
The 10th Avenue Skybridge
…They built another one! Head around the corner and you’ll find Nabisco’s second skybridge, which connected the bakeries to a second office building on the west side of 10th Avenue.
Girded in an aluminum art deco motif, the skybridge runs above the rail tracks which once brought goods to the factory, since transformed into the High Line elevated park.
The Pine Street Skybridge
Probably the least photogenic of the bunch, the two-story skybridge on Pine Street connects 70 Pine Street to 74 Wall Street, infamous for being the former headquarters of AIG.
AIG purchased the properties in 1976, though I couldn’t find any mention of when this unremarkable skybridge went up.
Today, as 70 Pine Street undergoes renovations into luxury condos, cardboard covers the windows of the bridge. No word on whether it’ll remain in place.
Fun sidenote: when walking by the towering 70 Pine Street building, be sure to look above the entrance…
…where you’ll see a miniature model of the building:
The Lexington Avenue Skybridge
On the Upper East Side, Hunter College has several modern skybridges connecting its campus buildings, one of which can claim the prize for being the only skybridge in the city that crosses two different streets…
…first, spanning Lexington Ave…
…then, angling north-west…
…and continuing across 68th Street to connect with the school’s original building.
The 60th Street Skybridge
Not to be outdone by Gimbel’s, Bloomingdale’s also has a skybridge of its own on 60th Street.
Once connecting the flagship store to an office across the street, the annex is reportedly no longer in use by Bloomingdale’s, and the bridge has been sealed.
Another digression: I love this row of original Bloomingdale’s buildings wedged between the larger department store complex. The uniform white paint almost make them feel like ghosts of their former structures.
The New York-Presbyterian Hospital Skybridges
The last bunch takes us up to New York Presbyterian Hospital, which is home to at least six different skybridges by my count…
Four crossing Fort Washington Avenue…
…and two more spanning Riverside Drive.
My favorite thing about the NY Presbyterian skybridges? Unlike nearly every other example on this list, people are actually still using them.
PS – Did I miss any? Be sure to let me know! Note: I’m specifically talking about inter-building skybridges that cross active streets or avenues (as opposed to pedestrian bridges crossing highways/streets, or inter-building skybridges that do not cross active streets).
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