The bridge has three masonry piers, and the approach spans are made of steel. The sidewalk features four shelters with cast-iron piers, while the bridge itself has a "graceful" profile with "ornate" iron railings and two stone pavilions.
The bridge was designed by consulting engineer William H. Burr with Alfred Pancoast Boller, who was particularly responsible for its aesthetics, and Paul W. Birdsall, and was constructed in 1893-95 at its original location as the Harlem Ship Canal Bridge between Upper Manhattan and Marble Hill. The bridge was to be replaced by a new double-level bridge that would accommodate the extension of the IRT Broadway - Seventh Avenue Line, so in 1905-08 it was disconnected and floated down the Harlem River (June 1906) to its current location, where it was placed on a central pier and an additional span was added to it on the western approach, all under the supervision of chief engineer Othniel F. Nichols. The bridge opened to traffic on January 8, 1908.
A new, wider bridge was constructed between 1989 and 1992 to replace the decaying previous structure. The new bridge used a portion of the superstructure latticework of the original bridge.
On June 12, 2008, the New York City Bridge Centennial Commission organized a parade to mark the centennial anniversary of the bridge. The event was attended by Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Jr. and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.