1/ Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge Park / Dumbo
Coordinates: 40°42'11.9"N 73°59'46.3"W
Location: There are many spots where to photograph the silhouette of Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn. The easiest is probably the view from the north corner of the Pier 1 of Brooklyn Bridge Park. That way you get clean view of the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan with no disturbing objects in the view. If you are, however, a photographer who seeks a bit more challenge, you can follow the path around the East River - it will take you from under Brooklyn Bridge through Dumbo. You can try for instance framing the One WTC between the pillars of Manhattan Bridge. Or if you want to meet less people, try to photograph from the other Piers than number 1 as well. The view will change slightly.
How to get there: The closest subway station is High Street - Brooklyn Bridge station (lines A, C) - if you walk north-west via Old Fulton street, you will get to the Pier 1 in 500m.
Timing: You can visit this location both in the morning and in the evening. In the morning, you are going to get a beautiful reflection of sunrise in the skyscrapers, while in the evening there is a possibility of having a beautiful colorful sky after sunset.
Fees: You don’t need any money to enter the Park nor to walk the path around the East River.
Risks & Bans: There are places you are not allowed to enter, for instance the stony beaches next to the East River. Police patrols check the location regularly, so don’t try.
Tips & Tricks: Come before sunrise to admire the colorful reflections of the sky in the windows of the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan.
2/ Lower Manhattan from New Jersey
Coordinates: 40°42'53.1"N 74°01'59.2"W
Location: The classic spot to photograph Lower Manhattan from New Jersey is from the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway.
How to get there: The station closest to the view is probably the Exchange Place (line PATH).
Timing: Good during both morning and evening.
Fees: Again, no entry fee, you just need to buy the tickets for PATH if you are travelling from Manhattan.
Risks & Bans: It can get cold and windy by the river, so don’t forget some warm clothing to keep you warm while waiting for the right moment.
Tips & Tricks: If you want to travel a bit further, you can visit the Empty Sky Memorial in New Jersey. It is more to the south and it is a great place to frame the view of Lower Manhattan skyscrapers. Plus, once you are there, you can spare a quiet thought commemorating those who died during the 9/11 tragedy.
3/ Brooklyn Bridge
Coordinates: 40°42'14.7"N 73°59'39.9"W
Location: Brooklyn Bridge is one of the classical places to visit even if you don’t consider yourself a photographer.
How to get there: Depends whether you walk from the Manhattan of Brooklyn side of the river. The closest subway station in Brooklyn is High Street - Brooklyn Bridge station (lines A, C) and from Brooklyn you enter the bridge for instance via stairs from under the bridge from Prospect street. On Manhattan the choices are wider, you can walk from the Brooklyn Bridge City Hall Station (lines 4, 5, 6) of Fulton Street (lines 2, 3) or Chambers Street (lines J, Z).
Timing: Brooklyn Bridge is also one of the places you can admire (and photograph, of course) during both morning and evening. However, be prepared that the bridge gets really crowded during the day, as well as in the evening.
Fees: No entry fee, just your patience when visiting during the day.
Risks & Bans: During the day/evening you have a smaller chance to use the tripod without it being kicked by tourists passing by.
Tips & Tricks: The best places to photograph from are the corners where the footpath goes around the bridge pillars. Here, you get above the road so you can compose the classic yellow cabs on the streets together with the silhouette of Lower Manhattan in the background.
4/ Empire State Building
Coordinates: 40°44'53.9"N 73°59'07.5"W
Location: The first of the two great places from which to view New York from above, the Empire State Building offers breathtaking views.
Additional information: This skyscraper was finished in 1931 and became the tallest building of New York twice - first time in the moment when it was finished and second time after the collapse of the North Tower of World Trade Center after the attacks of 9/11.
How to get there: You can find it on the corner of 5th Avenue a West 34th Street. The closest subway stations are: 34 Street-Herald Sq Station (lines D, F, M, N, Q, R, W), 33 St (lines 4, 6) or 34 St - Penn Station (lines 1, 2, 3).
Timing: If you want to enjoy the moment when the sun meets the horizon, choose the evening hours. The Observatories are opened 365 days a year, but the first entry is at 8AM, which is late for sunrise.
Fees: The prices change nearly year by year, currently (2018) the ticket for single entry to the 86th Observation Deck for one adult starts on $37.
Risks & Bans: Be careful what you bring with yourself! At the bottom of the tower you have to pass the security the same way as if you are at the airport, so no sharp things in your backpack! Especially not the red swiss knife some of us carry everywhere. Tripods are not allowed here!
Tips & Tricks: Sunset is really the best opportunity to get great pictures from this place!
5/ The Top of The Rock
Coordinates: 40°45'33.3"N 73°58'45.5"W
Location: It is really hard to say which one of these great views - Empire State Building Observation deck or the Top of The Rock is better, as both have something to offer.
Additional information: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, also called Comcast Building (former names: RCA Building till 1988 and GE Building till 2015) is 122m shorter than the Empire State Building, but it offers amazing views nevertheless!
How to get there: The closest subway station is 47-50 Streets - Rockefeller Center Station (lines D, F, M).
Timing: The same applies here - as the opening times start at 8AM, it is better to enjoy the evening photography session here to watch the golden light flood the streets of New York.
Fees: General admission is $36, but during the sunset hours you will have to pay $5 extra…
Risks & Bans: Again! Be careful what you bring here. If you wait in the queue for half an hour and then have the choice to either give up your favorite knife or turn around and come back another time, it won’t be a nice experience. Tripods are not allowed here!
Tips & Tricks: Personally, I prefer this view, as it is closer to the Central Park than Empire State Building and you have a great view of the amazing green part of New York as well as the Lower Manhattan on the south view. As the tripods are not allowed here, it might be a bit difficult to take a decent picture after sunset, but if you are on the top view, you can use the hedge of the railing to lay down your camera to be more steady!
6/ Central Park - Bow Bridge view
Coordinates: 40°46'31.6"N 73°58'12.5"W
Location: Central Park is a real gem of New York and the Bow Bridge is a real gem of Central Park. Being the longest bridge of the park, it is great to watch and photograph the bridge with its reflection in The Lake.
How to get there: The best subway station for this photo spot is 72 St (lines C, B). You have to enter the park next to the station and walk towards the Cherry Hill fountain, then down the hill to the bridge itself. Cross the bridge and turn right, follow the path and always turn to the right. It will lead you to the place where you can see the bridge from the peninsula in The Lake. The best view is not marked on Google Maps, but there is a proper path, so you don’t need to walk through the bushes.
Timing: During sunrise you can first see the light flood the buildings in the background, and, if you are patient enough, the bridge itself as well.
Fees: There is no entry fee to the park. However, the squirrels might try to persuade you there is a “nuts fee” if you want to share the place with them ;-)
Risks & Bans: If you are discovering this place before sunrise, a flashlight might be handy.
Tips & Tricks: If you want to enjoy the park without tons of tourists, choose the early morning. You will meet only joggers, dog walkers and squirrels there!
7/ WTC Transportation Hub - Oculus
Coordinates: 40°42'41.1"N 74°00'40.2"W
Location: A blinding white building from both outside and inside - this is an awesome opportunity for great architectural photographs!
Additional information: From the outside the main station house, called “the Oculus”, looks like a giant Stegosaurus skeleton whitened by time. It was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and opened in 2016.
How to get there: The closest subway is… wait a moment, the subject itself is a station! Path Station World Trade Center (lines E or PATH) or Cortlandt St (lines R, W) is also nearby.
Timing: You can shoot almost anytime in the interior of the terminal, but for the exterior you need the sun to be a bit higher due to the tall buildings all around.
Fees: No entry fee to the terminal.
Risks & Bans: It is not recommended to use the tripod inside as the place tends to be crowded and there are security guys everywhere. Most of the times the tripod is not necessary anyway, as there is plenty of light.
Tips & Tricks: The structure of the building both inside and outside offers many possibilities - if you use a telelens, you can find many clean architectural compositions.
8/ Times Square
Coordinates: 40°45'32.0"N 73°59'06.6"W
Location: Times Square is one of the busiest places in New York during the day. At the first glance these crowds don’t invite one to take pictures, but once you spend there a while, you will find it very interesting. There is a tribune for tourists to get above the crowds (although the tribune itself is of course also crowded).
Additional information: The nickname Crossroads of the World says it all.
How to get there: Times Square-42 Street (lines N, Q, R, 1, 2, 3, 7) is the most used station to get to Times Square, but the 49 St (lines N, Q, R) is perhaps closer, at least to the northern part of Times Square.
Timing: Located “deep” under the tall buildings, it offers neither sunrise nor sunset possibilities. You’d rather visit this place with all the crowds during the day and spare the sunrise / sunset times for places where you can make more use of the light.
Fees: As long as you stay on the street and don’t enter any shop, you will not need to pay anything.
Risks & Bans: Careful, very crowded during the day!
Tips & Tricks: If it rains, the Times Square is a great source of colorful reflections. Don’t be upset if the weather is terrible - just grab your umbrella and/or raincoat and create some images full of vivid colors!
Keep in mind that this is New York and be prepared for crowds on every step you take. If you want to avoid those, either choose another place in the world, or get up really early.
We hope you find Vojta’s highlights useful and if you want to use them on your hunt for NYC captures, feel free to download the map in KML file format right into your mobile device!