Who Walks the Bridge in the Dead of Winter? (And What Are They Wearing?)

The Williamsburg Bridge is my favorite place in New York. During the past six years that I’ve lived here, I’ve walked across it hundreds of times. I remember the first time I did it, and feeling overwhelmed in the best possible way—bikers on the left, walkers on the right, graffiti splashed everywhere—and all that stimulation, combined with the rhythm of the trains passing by, ignited a euphoric feeling in me that still has not gone away. Over the years, the bridge has become my designated destination for the times when I need to clear my head, and I’ve become attached to the architecture of the bridge’s criss-crossed steel beams and the soothing way that light cascades through them.

As I’ve spent more time on the bridge, I’ve realized that it serves lots of different purposes beyond commuting, too—from being a spot for recreation to sight-seeing to good old fashioned loitering. It’s always a busier scene during the warmer months, but for those of us who’ve become addicted to life on the bridge, not even winter’s most frigid mornings can keep us away from it. So I decided to meet my fellow wintertime bridge walkers, to find out more about them. Who are they? Where are they going? What kind of secrets do they have about dressing to keep warm while suspended over the East River? (For starters, everybody except for one person told me they were wearing precisely three layers.) 

Elenore, 45

Destination: I’m going to get lunch at The Butcher’s Daughter.

Bridge-walking frequency: I do it more in the summer because I live over on the Bowery, so I usually run back and forth in the morning. Right now I’m doing anything to try and get this baby out.

Wearing: My coat is Damir Doma, the turtleneck is Jil Sander, my pants are a vintage mens tuxedo style, and my shoes are Ann Demulemeester

Bridge attire strategy: Right now I can only wear what I can fit in because I’m 41 weeks pregnant, so I’m just walking to try to get the baby out. In general, I like to wear something that I feel good but also comfortable in. I kind of wear the same thing all the time. 

Ashley, 21

Destination: 12 Chairs Cafe in Williamsburg. 

Bridge-walking frequency: I’d say probably 4 times a week. When I first moved here, I felt like it was the only place I could get fresh air. 

Wearing: My jacket is Champion and my shoes are Air Force 1s. Everything else is Alo.  

Bridge attire strategy: I kind of always wear my Air Force 1s—shoes are most important. 

Beatrice, 25

Destination: Monument across the bridge, it’s a plaza skate spot.

Bridge-walking frequency: Lately it’s been cold, so not every day, but in the summer every day. It gets you from Manhattan to Brooklyn and it’s free! 

Wearing: Everything I’m wearing is Supreme. Oh, and my Vans

Bridge attire strategy: I mean, I always bring my board. I love that when you finish the steep incline to the top then it’s pretty much a straight shot down. 

Johnny, 21

Destination: I’m just walking over the bridge to enjoy the weather.

Bridge-walking frequency: This is actually my first time walking the bridge.

Wearing: My jacket is from Goodwill, the pin is a picture of my aunt and I when I was a kid. My pants are oversized slacks from eBay and all of my jewelry is eBay too. eBay is a very amazing place, don’t slack on it.  

Bridge attire strategy: There really isn’t a formula of what to wear, just be yourself.

Che, 34

Destination: I’m going downtown to shop with a friend, just cruising, really.

Bridge walking-frequency: I just got to New York not too long ago, but within the last week I’ve come three times and I love it. I walk one way and then turn around and walk back, it’s great for clearing my head. 

Wearing: My cargo pants, turtleneck, and boots are all thrifted, my jacket is my boyfriend’s. These glasses I found on Amazon

Bridge attire strategy: Wear things that are sturdy. Like, these boots are well-traveled, so I wear them when walking long distances.

Emily, 29

Destination: Chinatown. 

Bridge walking-frequency: Every day. 

Wearing: My coat is Max Mara, my pants are vintage and I’m wearing Nikes

Bridge attire strategy: Comfy shoes, always!

Emma and Matthew, 20 and 22

Destination: To Williamsburg to visit a friend.

Bridge-walking frequency: Emma: Probably twice a year; Matthew: Twice a week.  

Wearing: Emma: My jacket is from Forever 21 surprisingly, sweats are from Target, my shirt I made and my shoes are Dolls Kill; Matthew: Nothing I’m wearing is that interesting other than my Nike Blazers.

Bridge attire strategy: Matthew: Whatever I’m feeling that day, really; Emma: We’re both sweats people.

Reginald, 72

Destination: Home to Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.

Bridge-walking frequency: Every single day. 

Wearing: My joggers are by Penguin and my jacket is Aquascutum. My earrings are from Thailand. 

Bridge attire strategy: Nothing specifically, just me.

Photos by Sabrina Santiago.

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