When navigating your way through the hectic New York streets you might limit your vision to only what’s in front of you, and for good reason. Crazy cabbies and daring cyclists weave in and out of every possible inch, without a moment’s notice. But if you take a moment to look up, you might just notice a unique remnant of city building from an earlier era: skybridges. Skybridges are examples of the city’s push to tempt the creative boundaries of architecture. These nifty throughways can reside just a few short stories above the street, while others daringly traverse the city skyline.
The King’s Dream of New York was a fictional illustration created in 1908, and depicted a New York City filled with overpasses and bridges connecting adjacent buildings. The King’s View was illustrated as a fictional piece of art, but in many ways foresaw a multi-modal New York accesible via air, railway and sea. Skybridges were the first manifestation of this idea and inspired architects to think above street level.
Staple Street Skybridge
The Staple Street skybridge was designed in 1907 by Robertson & Potter in order to help the New York City Hospital House of Relief. The House of Relief expanded its facilities across the street and in doing so, sparked the idea of an elevated thruway connecting the two buildings. Today a well known fashion designer, Zoran Ladicorbic, owns it. Ladicorbic uses this skyrbidge to connect his apartment to his fashion studio.
The Herald Square Skybridge
The Herald Square skybridge has a beautiful copper tone and was designed in 1925 by Richmond Shreve and William Lamb. Shreve and Lamb’s skyway sits three stories above the street. Both of these architects helped design the Empire State Building later on in their careers.
Chelsea Market Skybridge
The Chelsea Market Skybridge originally connected the Nabisco factory and its neighboring office building. Now the skybridge serves two private office spaces and is not accessible to the public.
Downtown Brooklyn Skybridge
Philadelphia artist, Stephen Powers, who also goes by the street name ESPO, painted this street art installation on the skybridges of an old Macy’s garage on Hoyt Street. Entitled “Love Letter to Brooklyn,” the painted phrases are inspired by conversations the artist and his team had with people passing by, referencing Brooklyn as home, such as “Born Busy as Brooklyn Bound B” and “I am made to leave, I am made to return.”
Bloomingdale’s on 59th Street
Bloomingdale’s rents their skybridge from the city of New York and must pay rent annually. They are not allowed to demolish the structure but must upkeep and renovate it according to its physical needs. This skybridge connects Bloomingdales shopping center to its business offices across the street. This skybridge is accesible to the public through the Bloomingdales entrance on the third floor.
Forest Hills Skybridge
Station Square, Forest Hills NY
Station Square was opened in 1906, located in the neighborhood of Forest Hills in Queens. It is situated on 71st Avenue between Austin Street and Burns Street. It is one of the oldest operating railway stations in New York City. Interestingly enough, the railways predate subway expansion by thirty years. On July 4, 1917, former President Theodore Roosevelt made his “Unification Speech” from the steps of this very station.
Grand Central Station
Grand Central captures the essence of the King’s View of the city of New York. Entering Grand Central Station is like entering a microcosm of the city. Underpasses, overpasses and escalated roads wrap around the building like vines on a tree. Unlike the rest of the locations, the photos above do not show an actual skybridge, but hold true to the over-overarching message of the King’s View, which envisioned a city with multi-modal transportation snaking through the interior and exterior of the city’s infrastructural skeleton.
Hunter College is located on 68th and Lexington and has a series of skybridges engineered by John Shmerykowky. These skybridges connect the West, East and North buildings on the third and seventh floor. These relatively new additions allow students to travel to each building without having to leave campus. If you are not a CUNY (City University of New York) student you can gain access by acquiring a visitors pass from Hunter College.
Midwood High School
Midwood High School
Similar to Hunter College, Midwood High School constructed a skybridge in order to unify the urban campus. Midwood High School like many other city campuses, are faced with the dilemma of keeping students off the busy city streets. By implementing a skybridge, students no longer need to exit the campus, which ensures the safety of the faculty, students, and local residents. This skybridge is not accessible to the public.
There are just a sampling of the rich architectural variety that skybridges come in. Next time you’re walking around New York City, don’t forget to look up!