Lovely, empty skybridges linking city buildings

They’ve been part of New York City since the 19th century: short, enclosed bridges that look like railway cars (and could make for pretty cool little apartments) connecting one building to another.

Functional yet decorative, these skybridges still exist all over the city—many in unusual corners and alleys.

Skybridgestaplestreet

One of the loveliest is this skywalk in Tribeca. Built in 1907, it linked New York Hospital’s House of Relief (such a wonderful name for a medical facility), at the corner of Hudson and Jay Streets, to a new hospital annex across Staple Street, then an industrial alley.

The annex housed a stable and laundry facility; you can imagine early 20th century nurses carting sheets and gowns and blankets back and forth across the skybridge day after day.

Skybridgechelseamarket

The transverse in Chelsea near Tenth Avenue has cathedral-like windows that let in lots of light.

Since 1930, it has connected the former Nabisco factory (today’s Chelsea Market, where the Oreo was invented!) to a former Nabisco office building.

Skybridgemetrolifetower

This gem on 24th Street between Madison and Park Avenues, bridging the Metropolitan Life Tower to the MetLife North building (no longer occupied by MetLife, though), has a graceful arch and appropriate Art Deco touches.

It almost looks like an old-school diner in the air.

Skybridgegimbels

Perhaps the most striking of all is the copper skybridge at the former Gimbels building on 32nd Street. Constructed in 1925, it actually resembles a bridge; it linked the main Gimbels department store to a new annex across the street and three stories into the sky.

The Bowery Boys recently posted a fascinating and rare glimpse inside this mostly abandoned walkway over Herald Square. Gimbels is long gone, but the transverse remains, and the photos are ghostly.

[Bottom photo: Wikipedia]

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8 Responses to “Lovely, empty skybridges linking city buildings”

  1. MostlyFive0 Says:

    Thanks for sharing. Loved the link to the look inside. Thanks.

  2. tomgeorgearts Says:

    Hey that’s a wonderful idea to use them for apartments; if they were no longer used..!

  3. Ellen Levitt Says:

    Very pretty. I am including 2 in my upcoming book Walking Manhattan (walking tours throughout Manhattan)

  4. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I love them; tiny cathedrals of commerce in the sky.

  5. Mykola Mick Dementiuk Says:

    There’s also one in the New School on 11th-12th Sts, overlooking the garden/resting spot between inner buildings. When I worked there in the 1960s it was a way for the New School employees to get to the lunchroom on the 5th or 6th floor with the garden below.. But I wonder if its still there?

  6. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I’ll take a look! Thanks Mick.

  7. James Says:

    There was one in Brooklyn connecting the Abraham & Straus Department store with an office building.

    Around late 1969 to early 1970 I was chased by a knife wielding madman across the bridge and into the office building escaping by slamming a steel door into his face and locking it behind me. I recall seeing his deranged face through the reinforced glass window while he attempted to get at me. He left and later stabbed a young woman
    in the back as she climbed the subway stairs leading to the A&S basement. The next day a photo appeared in the front page of the Daily News depicting the woman with the knife protruding from her upper back shoulder area.

    Downtown Brooklyn at that time was not a very nice place.

    I moved out of the city a few years later.

  8. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Holy crap, that is a terrible story! You were almost killed on a skybridge.

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