In Search of Manhattan’s Last Remaining Skybridges

Last week, I was driving down West 24th Street when I noticed something…

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They’re tearing down the West 24th Street skybridge.

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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.

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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

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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:

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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.

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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.

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The Staple Street Skybridge

Manhattan’s lowest skybridge is nonetheless one of its most photographed.

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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.

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On the north side, the skybridge actually angles out…

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…to wrap around the side of 67 Hudson:

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To this day, 67 Hudson Street still houses medical offices:

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Also, be sure to look to the third floor of the 9 Jay Street annex…

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…where you’ll see a terra cotta emblem from its New York Hospital days.

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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.

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This gorgeous three-story (!!) copper skybridge was built in 1925 to connect the Gimbels Department Store (today, the Manhattan Mall)…

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…to an annex at 116 West 32nd Street.

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The art deco skybridge is no longer in use, though someone was able to snap a few photos of its interior this past June.

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The West 15th Street Skybridge

Our next skybridge is located where the Oreo cookie was invented.

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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).

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In 1930, this skybridge was built to connect the bakery to Nabisco’s offices across the street.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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AIG purchased the properties in 1976, though I couldn’t find any mention of when this unremarkable skybridge went up.

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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.

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Fun sidenote: when walking by the towering 70 Pine Street building, be sure to look above the entrance…

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…where you’ll see a miniature model of the building:

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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…

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…first, spanning Lexington Ave…

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…then, angling north-west…

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…and continuing across 68th Street to connect with the school’s original building.

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The 60th Street Skybridge

Not to be outdone by Gimbel’s, Bloomingdale’s also has a skybridge of its own on 60th Street.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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Four crossing Fort Washington Avenue…

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…and two more spanning Riverside Drive.

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My favorite thing about the NY Presbyterian skybridges? Unlike nearly every other example on this list, people are actually still using them.

-SCOUT

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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68 comments

  1. Missed one. This not very interesting one between two buildings of Mt Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, crossing East 17th street. Still in use.
    https://www.google.com/maps/@40.733706,-73.98229,3a,75y,290.98h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sw6fxUTE2ol5JdqoAURFo8Q!2e0

  2. And another more interesting one, at Mt Sinai St Lukes Hospital. Seems that hospitals are prime users of these, for obvious reasons.
    https://www.google.com/maps/@40.805491,-73.961957,3a,75y,114.14h,105.68t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sk03uiLND6O8gNwFADjCnFw!2e0!6m1!1e1

  3. I remember one on West 114(?) connecting two building of St. Lukes Hospital

  4. The Chelsea Market skybridge is open on the CM side, the space is owned by Google and it’s a nice quiet reading area inside now.

  5. There’s one at LI college hospital in brooklyn, on Amity St west of Congress.

  6. There is a great one on Thames Street that you missed.

  7. You should check out Calgary. The entire down town core is connected by ‘sky bridges’ – they call then +15’s and apparently some people who work down town and park underground can go entire winter’s without going outside.

    • It’s pretty cool, a very well connected network of skybridges that lets you access almost any large building in the downtown core. Sadly, Calgary isn’t that interesting to look at in general, and our skybridges certainly aren’t worth a visit.

      • Agreed, in a word bland. They are very utilitarian with hardly any redeeming feature other than being warm in the winter.

  8. Bridge across 65th St. between Vivian Beaumont Theater and the Rose Building (used by NYC Ballet and others).
    http://nyphil.tumblr.com/post/20176542122/like-a-bridge-over-65th-street-tonight-marks-the

  9. get some queens love in there

    https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/969x776q90/539/pXKdm8.jpg

    long island city

  10. Looks like hospitals love them. New York-Presebyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center on the UES has one as well connecting it to the Hospital for Special Surgery. https://www.google.com/maps/@40.764992,-73.953321,3a,75y,127.62h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1st3qrx1OjY4MTT29EfII9EQ!2e0

    Similarly, while not over a street, Mount Sinai has 2 connecting the same two buildings. A 3 story one https://www.google.com/maps/@40.789794,-73.952279,3a,75y,299.78h,109.33t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sW2A6WCN_ekk647Lv3P_Cdw!2e0 and a 2 story one https://www.google.com/maps/@40.790518,-73.953843,3a,75y,123.64h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1seSDbq9HUAGY0SzB015P2YQ!2e0 and

  11. Inside the West 32nd St skybridge. It’s now connected to the IPG offices and you can still access it fairly easily (if you work there).

  12. How about the one in Downtown Brooklyn? Not sure if it’s in use, but it has the best graffiti on it!

  13. Hello,

    I’m from Barcelona, in June I traveled to New York and, walking along Broadway, I saw a bridge on top of two buildings in Thames Street. I do not know if it is the type of bridge you want, but the truth is that it is very high.

    Greetings from Barna.

  14. Not sure if this one qualifies as a Sky Bridge, but there appears to be one in Chinatown at the New York City Criminal Court building in Chinatown.

    http://goo.gl/maps/v7Y8V

  15. I wonder why they are not long in use or in construction? There is on outside my office on the UT campus here in Austin. One one floor up, but bypasses traffic and is much more direct route. I wonder why they fell out of favor?

    • They fell out of favor in many cities because the big public ones are in fact civically terrible things — sucking life off the streets and away from street-level businesses. (The small intra-corporate ones are too expensive for most corporations to construct.)

  16. Strange they no longer use these. In Vancouver, Canada I can think of two offhand in the downtown core that are actively used and accessible to the public. Used by the multi-block Pacific Centre mall to connect to a Holt Renfrew (Basically a Neiman Marcus). Another one as well, if I can recall correctly.

    Too bad they seem to be shutting these down. I really enjoy the look of these, and that 3 story one you have up there is very interesting.

  17. There are a number in DUMBO: the former Jehovah Witness’ buildings have at least 5 – two on Pearl Street, one on Sands Street between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, and two on Prospect Street, one a double decker:

    https://www.google.com/maps/@40.699887,-73.987789,3a,75y,43.27h,93.21t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sfLRYH8JVemiIX8BYKXd2wg!2e0
    and
    https://www.google.com/maps/@40.700687,-73.98854,3a,75y,93.5h,99.75t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sD7u25o4FiV8LzIWzPHIClg!2e0

    There’s another one on Columbia Heights down the block from the promenade:

    https://www.google.com/maps/@40.702076,-73.994568,3a,90y,14.82h,119.43t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sUbqAWvaaLY6my8FvLAxAmA!2e0

  18. How about the skybridge connecting the US Realty and Trinity buildings in lower Manhattan? It’s not covered but it sure is a bridge way up high .. https://flic.kr/p/fpABxf

  19. The skybridges over Riverside drive actually connect 2 buildings of the NY State Psychiatric Institute (which is affiliated with Columbia U/NYPH but is it’s own separate entity), where I worked for several years. One of them connects to the original Institute building, where Alan Ginsberg was committed for 8 months for treatment.

  20. cs still uses theirs was on it a few years ago

  21. At Morningside Campus for Columbia, there are skybridges between Pupin and Shapiro/CEPSR; Mudd and Shapiro/CEPSR. Picture of the first one here , can’t seem to find any picture for the other one.

  22. The Chelsea Market side of the W 15th St skybridge connects to Google NYC space, and it is open to Googlers and their guests. I love your blog, and would be happy to host you on a look inside if you want.

  23. I think there’s a small sky bridge connecting the 2 towers of Millennium UN Plaza Hotel http://www.orbitz.com//hotelimages/595/6595/Millennium-UN-Plaza-Hotel-NY-Hotel-Exterior-20.jpg

  24. Somewhere on the UES there’s an apartment—actually spaces in two separate buildings across the street from one another, connected via a sky bridge. Was profiled in the Times a few years ago. I just can’t remember where it is!!

  25. The 10th Avenue Skybridge is still very much in use. I’ve been across it for work several times.

  26. Isn’t there one connecting FIT class rooms and dorms/museum?

  27. Manhattan Federal Court building has two connecting it to the prison next door and the prosecutor’s office.

  28. Credit Suisse’s skybridge is very much in use right now, since the underground passageway has been closed since Hurricane Sandy.

  29. And don’t forget the skybridge between the Doge’s Palace and the Prigioni Nuove:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridge_of_Sighs

    …oops! Wrong city. ;>)

  30. I wonder why we don’t see more of these?

    The Morgan General Mail Facility, taking up everything between 9th and 10th avenues between 28th and 30th street, has a huge one that entirely covers most of the relevant 29th street block.

  31. Hunter college across Lexington ave.

  32. Yawn!! Check out the Skyways in Minneapolis, MN.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minneapolis_Skyway_System
    The system forms a network of climate-controlled, pedestrian walkways that link sixty-nine full city blocks over eleven miles (18 km).

    Then add St. Paul . . .

  33. Love these. Looking forward to the day you do a piece on the city’s secret passages. For example, the 45th Street entrance to Grand Central Station, no sign or anything, just a door leading to a staircase, then a long passage lined with tiny businesses to the Grand Concourse. May not be there any longer. There was also once a way to make your way from 42nd Street to 46 Street on a rainy day without getting wet. Between 5th and 6th Aves, some buildings had middle of the blocks access.

  34. I work in a skybridge. It’s not very high, but when the new Manhattan Mail Facility on the block next to Morgan Station (have you seen the ‘Parcel Post’ lettering which was uncovered after a windstorm a few years ago?) was built in 1994, the buildings were connected by a 2-floor bridge across 29th street.

    Oh … the Gimbels one used to be very accessible: When Manhattan Mall opened, the food court was on the top floor (can’t remember if it was 6 or 7), which had no restrooms. We had to walk across the bridge to the South building to use the restrooms over there. In a typical TANSTAAFL situation, however, the windows were boarded up with dry-wall.

  35. “My favorite thing about the NY Presbyterian skybridges? Unlike nearly every other example on this list, people are actually still using them.”

    The E24th street is heavily used by the employees of Credit Suisse, who occupies floors in both One Madison and Eleven Madison Ave. The tunnel under E24th street as recently been restricted to most employees and Credit Suisse recently occupied 2 additional floors at One Madison.

    In the heat of the summer, the cold of the winter, and when it rains or snows, the skybridge is the only way to travel between building.

    Factoid: The skybridge connects OMA’s 10th floor with landmark EMA’s 8th floor.
    The Credit Suisse tunnel at E24 St was not closed down due to Sandy. The entrance to the tunnel from the Eleven Madison has been closed due to cost of security. The tunnel is heavily used by the building services and IT crews to bring supplies between the buildings.

  36. At first, reading “sky bridges” I wasn’t sure what was being discussed. Here in Minneapolis our entire downtown, as well as downtown saint paul is completely connected by skyways(As we call them) and I’ve never thought of them as… interesting or optional. Any place that has a real winter practically needs them, esp for us city dwellers. It’s very convenient in Mid-Jan to be able to leave to meet up with friends in shorts and a tee because at no point during the evening will you be outside

  37. The skybridge for 70 Pine Street was so that it could claim 60 Wall Street as an address. That changed when the current 60 Wall Street tower went up. Kinda curious as to why the bridge still exists and if it will survive the Condo conversion.

  38. Scouting NY, you are always ahead of the trend. The New York Times published a story in their Real Estate section today about sky bridges. Although the legality of whether they are real estate or not is very interesting. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/17/realestate/new-york-citys-aerial-bridges.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=Moth-Visible&module=inside-nyt-region&region=inside-nyt-region&WT.nav=inside-nyt-region&_r=0

  39. I was bummed to see the NYT blatantly rip off your idea for a story without attribution. They even linked to the same Bowery Boys photoset. Very sad indeed. Great work on your story, though. I think the NYT should redeem itself by doing a feature on your blog. I bet the readers of the Streetscapes column would be interested in the work you put in here…though they’d have to come up with their own ideas afterward.

  40. Hey! There’s one at the Manhattan Detention Complex. 125 White Street.

  41. The Chelsea Market one reminds me of an old subway car that somehow got jammed between the buildings (in the view from the street, anyway).

  42. Here’s the one at the Manhattan Detention Complex. 125 White Street. Still in use.

  43. Thanks for this! Being from Minnesota (now a NYC resident) I am a little surprised to hear these are called “sky bridges” here. We call them skyways, and they’re immortalized in perhaps the perfect little song about unrequited love by the Replacements/Paul Westerberg: “Skyway”

  44. Oops!, the missing link”

    “The Bridge of Sighs,” at Manhattan Tombs, 125 White Street.

    http://artincommon.net/richard-haas-judgment-of-pao-kung-and-judgment-of-king-solomon-mid-1980s/

  45. Oops!, the missing link”

    “The Bridge of Sighs,” at Manhattan Tombs, 125 White Street.

    http://artincommon.net/richard-haas-judgment-of-pao-kung-and-judgment-of-king-solomon-mid-1980s/

  46. Not sure if this qualifies, but on W27th and 7th ave intersection, FIT connects two of their buildings on opposite streets with a bridge. Should check that out!

  47. Shortly after reading this great article, I went to see a taping of Sesame Street which is filmed at Kaufman Studios in Astoria Queens and what did I find? A sky bridge! Nick, I’m happy to send you the photo I took.

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