The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) was built in the 1940s and 1950s. The construction of the BQE bisected Hicks Street, separating the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill from Red Hook and Columbia Street Waterfront District. There are several points at which one can traverse bisected Hicks Street to cross from Columbia Street Waterfront district to Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill. There are flat crossings for pedestrians and vehicles in Cobble Hill (Congress Street and Kane Street) and in Carroll Gardens (Sackett Street and Union Street). In this post, I will examine the one pedestrian-only crossing, and the most elaborate of the crossing – the Summit Street Bridge, which connects the Columbia Street Waterfront District side of Hicks Street to the Carroll Gardens side.
This article will feature photographs from a walk that I took across the Bridge on the evening of May 19, 2021.
The Summit Street Bridge on a Map
Thanks to the great violence that was done to Hicks Street in Carroll Gardens in the 1940s and 1950s, the Summit Street Bridge is needed to cross over the BQE from one side of Hicks Street to the other. To be clear – it is a bridge over the BQE from Summit and Hicks Streets In Carroll Gardens to Summit and Hicks Streets in the Waterfront District. Below, you will see the Bridge on a map:
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If you ever happen to be meeting on someone on Hicks Street between Hamilton Avenue and Congress Streets, be sure to clarify which side of Hicks Street. Between Hamilton and Congress, Hicks is divided between Columbia Street Waterfront District (close to the East River) and Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill respectively (Degraw Street separates Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill). Hicks Street is unified in its Red Hook and Brooklyn Heights stretches. Hicks Street in Brooklyn Heights is quite pretty.
Some Background Information on the Summit Street Bridge
A March 19, 2011 article by Forgotten New York detailed the history of the Summit Street Bridge:
The pedestrian bridge at Summit Street was built when the BQE was, in the early 1950s, and at that time, there was still some leeway for a little embellishment. The bridge has an arched grace about it, and the distinctive bridge posts that look like bishops staffs, appropriate with the venerable St. Stephens Church [as] the backdrop.
According to Bridgehunter.com, the Summit Street Bridge in Carroll Gardens was completed in 1952. It is a steel stringer bridge. Its longest span, in the center of the bridge is 79.1 feet. The total span is 122.1 feet. The deck width of the bridge is 8.9 feet.
Background on Sacred Hearts & St. Stephens
The church referenced in the forgotten New York piece is a magisterial Roman Catholic church called Sacred Hearts & St. Stephens. The church, which had been dedicated in its original form in 1875, suffered a terrible fire on January 10, 1951. It was rebuilt and rededicated on November 23, 1951.
While I do not know for sure, I will venture that the location of the large church played a role in the decision to build the Summit Street Bridge. The Bridge is only three and four blocks away from flat Hicks Street crossings at Union Street and Sackett Street, respectively. Hamilton Avenue, three blocks away in the other direction, also bridges the two halves of Hicks Street, albeit in a less pedestrian-friendly way.
A May 19, 2021 Trip Across the Summit Street Bridge
I took a number of photos of the Summit Street Bridge on the evening of May 19, 2021. See my photos and discussion below. You can refer to the map I posted earlier in the article for location references.
I took all of the photos with the Open Camera App on my Motorola Moto e6 phone. My colleague, Victor V. Gurbo, valiantly edited them to make them amenable to publication despite their inherently mediocre quality.
Approaching the Summit Street Bridge From Hicks and Woodhull
This first picture depicts approaching the Summit Street Bridge from Hicks Street and Woodhull Street in the Columbia Street Waterfront District. The stairs to access the Bridge from the Columbia Street Waterfront District side are on Hicks between Summit and Carroll and are not visible in this picture.
A View of the Bridge Span and Sacred Hearts & St. Stephens
Before crossing the street to approach the steps, I took a picture of the bridge span and Sacred Hearts & St. Stephens. You can see the Summit Street Bridge’s arch and the beautiful church well in this picture. My capturing the back of the blue car driving by was unintentional – unlike my photo of a red car on Roosevelt Island.
The Planter-Box “Summit St Bridge” Sign
I am now on the Summit Street Bridge proper. Sometime during the past year, this planter box appeared at the foot of the Summit Street Bridge on the Columbia Street Waterfront District side. The box doubles as a sign for the Bridge. It looks very nice and it is useful in light of the fact that I do not think the bridge’s name is particularly well-known. Trash tends to collect around the planter box, but the plant is doing well.
The Bridge Span from the Columbia Street Waterfront District Side Between Summit and Carroll
Because I was not sure I would be turning this photo series into an article, I forgot to take a picture of the Summit Street Bridge ascent from the Columbia Street Waterfront District side. Rather than a ramp, the ascent on both sides of the Bridge feature steps (you will see the steps on the other side). For this photo, I was standing on one of the steps on my initial ascent of the bridge, capturing the bridge span from the opposite side from my earlier photo. Note that the bridge as a 12-foot and 9-inch clearance for vehicles passing under it.
This photo reminds me a bit of my photo of the first part of the Manhattan Bridge pedestrian walkway on the Manhattan side, which I featured in an earlier article. The Summit Street Bridge has a different feel, however. In my Manhattan Bridge post, I noted the contrast between the hectic lead-in to the pedestrian walkway and the first stretch of the Manhattan Bridge on the Manhattan side. In contrast, the lead-in to the Summit Street Bridge is peaceful on both sides. It bridges some of the quieter parts of Columbia Street Waterfront District and Carroll Gardens. The only unpleasantness in the area is the BQE traffic.
The Sun Sets Over Columbia Street Waterfront District
I completed my ascent of the Summit Street Bridge. The initial stairs run alongside a small residential building. However, once one completes the steps (from the Columbia Street Waterfront side), there is a nice view of Summit Street heading toward the water. I took the opportunity to take this picture of the setting Sun.
(It would have been better if I took a picture of the steps, but what can you do?)
The Longest Span
I turned around from my Sun picture and took another picture. This is the center and longest span of the Summit Street Bridge, bridging both sides of Hicks Street to connect Columbia Street Waterfront District to Carroll Gardens. It is taking us right to the entrance of Sacred Hearts & St. Stephens.
I noted that there were steps on my ascent on the Columbia Street Waterfront District side of the Summit Street Bridge. You will have to take my word for it. The steps were very much the same as the steps you see here.
I do not like the steps on the Bridge. The spacing and height is awkward. It is difficult to maintain a natural gait. This is the Bridge’s most questionable design decision. The peculiar steps on the Triborough Bridge are much better for walking
Leaving the Summit Street Bridge
This is the end of our bridge journey.
I entered the Summit Street Bridge on Hicks and Summit Street.
I used the Bridge to cross from Hicks and Summit to Hicks and Summit.
After making it across the Bridge, I had to cross Hicks street and Summit street.
How many times must I cross Hicks at Summit?
This crossing is sometimes busy, but fortunately for my photo-taking, it was not busy on the evening of May 19, 2021.
Do note the sign for the church on the left side of the picture behind the parked car.
I hope you enjoyed our trip across the Summit Street Bridge. It comes off as a bit of a peculiar way to cross Hicks street in that it is very close to the simple and flat crossings at Union and Sackett Streets. However, it is an interesting looking little bridge, and it receives a decent amount of foot traffic (in my estimation, at least). Perhaps people like the exercise, or, like me, they enjoy crossing bridges.
I took these photos on a whim and did not plan them carefully for an article. I may post a follow-up article in the future with some angles of the Bridge (and the first set of steps) that I did not cover in this post.