Police took more than two hours to clear the crossing. It reopened at around 6 p.m. As buses full of those in custody rolled off the bridge, the crowd chanted: "Let them go!"
It was unclear how many arrests were made. Reports from the scene varried from a few dozen to more than 100.
At the height of the protest, about 100 cars were left stuck as the crowd covered the span from end to end.
One irate driver, a Ground Zero construction worker, blasted the pedestrians.
"I work my ass off all day, and these goddamned hippies close down the Brooklyn Bridge so I can't get home?" he said. "This ain't right!"
The rowdy protesters, who have repeatedly tussled with police in the two weeks they have spent occupying downtown Manhattan, made their way through the rain from Zuccotti Park to City Hall, where the New York Police Department locked the gates to City Hall Park and diverted them elsewhere.
The crowd then bottlenecked at the entrance to the bridge, tying up traffic as they slowly oozed across in a bid to get to Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Demonstrators are railing against corporate greed, global warming and social inequality, among other grievances
Some bold-faced names have shown up at the Occupy Wall Street protests, including Susan Sarandon, Russell Simmons and Cornell West, but at least one got a cold reception earlier Saturday.
Embattled Congressman Charlie Rangel tried to lend his support but was chased away by a heckler.
Rangel had begun an informal speech to the crowd when a man began taunting him and then coming towards him, witnesses said.
City Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn), was standing nearby as the incident unfolded.
"Charlie was saying how they need to have more people down here to support this. That's why he was there," Barron said. "This heckler came out of the crowd and went after him."
As Rangel backed away from the pushy protester the crowd came to his rescue, swamping the heckler and chanting in response, "Everyone has the right to speak."
A Rangel spokeswoman denied that the congressman was chased away.
"He knows people are frustrated and hurting badly from the financial meltdown," spokeswoman Hannah Kim told the NEW YORK POST. "He is glad that he went."