Streets and Highways:
Despite New York’s heavy reliance on its vast public transit system, streets are a defining feature of the city. Manhattan’s street grid plan greatly influenced the city’s physical development. Several of the city’s streets and avenues, like Broadway, Wall Street, Madison Avenue, and Seventh Avenue are also used as metonyms for national industries there: the theater, finance, advertising, and fashion organizations, respectively.
New York City also has an extensive web of expressways and parkways, which link the city’s boroughs to each other and to northern New Jersey, Westchester County, Long Island, and southwestern Connecticut through various bridges and tunnels. Because these highways serve millions of outer borough and suburban residents who commute into Manhattan, it is quite common for motorists to be stranded for hours in traffic jams that are a daily occurrence, particularly during rush hour.
New York City is also known for its rules regarding turning at red lights. Unlike the rest of the United States, New York State prohibits right or left turns on red in cities with a population greater than one million, to reduce traffic collisions and increase pedestrian safety. In New York City, therefore, all turns at red lights are illegal unless a sign permitting such maneuvers is present.
New York City is located on one of the world’s largest natural harbors, and the boroughs of Manhattan and Staten Island are coterminous with islands of the same names, while Queens and Brooklyn are located at the west end of the larger Long Island, and The Bronx is located at the southern tip of New York State’s mainland. This situation of boroughs separated by water led to the development of an extensive infrastructure of well-known bridges and tunnels.
The George Washington Bridge is the world’s busiest motor vehicle bridge, connecting Manhattan to Bergen County, New Jersey.
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the Americas and one of the world’s longest. The Brooklyn Bridge is an icon of the city itself. The towers of the Brooklyn Bridge are built of limestone, granite, and Rosendale cement, and their architectural style is neo-Gothic, with characteristic pointed arches above the passageways through the stone towers. This bridge was also the longest suspension bridge in the world from its opening until 1903, and is the first steel-wire suspension bridge. The Queensboro Bridge is an important piece of cantilever architecture. The Manhattan Bridge, opened in 1909, is considered to be the forerunner of modern suspension bridges, and its design served as the model for many of the long-span suspension bridges around the world; the Manhattan Bridge, Throgs Neck Bridge, Triborough Bridge, and Verrazano-Narrows Bridge are all examples of Structural Expressionism.
Manhattan Island is linked to New York City’s outer boroughs and New Jersey by several tunnels as well. The Lincoln Tunnel, which carries 120,000 vehicles a day under the Hudson River between New Jersey and Midtown Manhattan, is the busiest vehicular tunnel in the world. The tunnel was built instead of a bridge to allow unfettered passage of large passenger and cargo ships that sailed through New York Harbor and up the Hudson River to Manhattan’s piers. The Holland Tunnel, connecting Lower Manhattan to Jersey City, New Jersey, was the world’s first mechanically ventilated vehicular tunnel when it opened in 1927. The Queens-Midtown Tunnel, built to relieve congestion on the bridges connecting Manhattan with Queens and Brooklyn, was the largest non-federal project in its time when it was completed in 1940. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first person to drive through it. The Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel (officially known as the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel) runs underneath Battery Park and connects the Financial District at the southern tip of Manhattan to Red Hook in Brooklyn.
The city flag is a vertical tricolor in blue, white, and orange and charged in the center bar with the Seal of New York City in blue. The tricolor design is derived from the flag of the Dutch Republic—the Prince’s Flag—as used in New Amsterdam in 1625.