Where to Photograph Stunning Views of the New York Skyline at Night

There are few cities with the grandeur and magical quality of the New York skyline at night. Its skyscrapers and bridges light the night like a fairytale. Along the east and Hudson rivers are a couple of easy to get to parks with public transportation, as well as great spots for capturing some of the best views of NYC.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85 acres waterfront wonderland replete with rolling hills, playgrounds, picnic areas, restaurants, outdoor movie nights, and a myriad of special events. You can take pictures from virtually anywhere along the riverfront but here’s a quick guide to some of the best spots. (Check the map below for a quick view.)

Old Pier 1 for an Iconic View of the New York Skyline at Night

Manhattan Skyline
32mm f/22, 30 sec, ISO 100

If you look at Instagram for Manhattan cityscapes, no doubt you’ll see dozens of pictures taken at the old Pier 1 next to the Salt Marsh where pilings from back in the days still stand. Depending on the time of year and day, it can look very different.

Be sure to get there before sunset. This is a popular sight and a lot of photographers line up to take pictures.

Harbor View Lawn

People on the lawn in Brooklyn Bridge Park sitting on blankets looking at the Manhattan skyline with the World Trade Center, WTC, in the background. New York City.
40mm f/20, 2:20sec, ISO 200

Walk a short distance from Pier 1 to Harbor View Lawn and you there is a completely different mood to capture with couples picnicking on the grass in the foreground.

Brooklyn Bridge Lookout

Further north is the Brooklyn Bridge Lookout. This is a very busy part of the park mainly because it’s near a number of eateries including the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, Shake Shack, Starbucks, Grimaldi’s Pizza, and for more special occasions the high-end restaurant, River Cafe.

Empire Fulton Ferry Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park-5340.jpg
40mm f/11, 30 sec, ISO 100

For this view, make your way past the lookout to the north side of the bridge, almost near its base at the edge of Fulton Ferry Park.

Jane’s Carousel

Next to Jane’s Carousel is this view to the Manhattan bridge.

En Route to Pebble Beach

27mm f/18, 1:30 sec, ISO 100

A walkway from Jane’s Carousel skirts the shore to Pebble Beach where a people sit on concrete steps, stadium-style to watch the sunset. Midway, you can see the carousel, Brooklyn Bridge, and the World Trade Center, among other skyscrapers.



How to get to Brooklyn Bridge Park

Public transportation is the best way to reach the park. There’s virtually no parking for non-residents.

Visitor Information

SubwayBus
A, C to High Street (Blue line)Bus 15 toFulton Ferry Landing
F to York Street (Orange line)Bus 63 Loop road on Pier 6
2, 3 to Clark Street (Red line)Bus 61 Atlantic Ave. & Hicks St.
R to Court Street (Yellow line)Bus 67 Jay St. & York St.
2, 3, 4, 5 to Borough Hall (Red line / Green line)

Gantry Plaza State Park from Manhattan

30mm f/10, 7.4 sec, ISO 100

A 15-acre park with views of mid-town Manhattan including the United Nations and the Empire State building. You’ll also find restored, historic gantries which used to load and unload rail car floats and barges. They make interesting shapes to shoot through too if you want to use them in the foreground.

View of midtown Manhattan from Gantry Plaza
35mm at f/10, 20 seconds, ISO 100

How to Get to Gantry State Park from Manhattan

Visitor information

SubwayBus
7 to Vernon Blvd – Jackson Avenue  B61 and Q103 buses to Vernon Boulevard and Jackson Avenue 
G Train to 21st Street – Jackson Avenue 

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Pier 1 Café

For a different perspective, there’s a cafe along the boardwalk on the upper west side of the city from the boardwalk around Pier i Café. It’s not from a distance as you have on the east side but from below.

Great thing about the location, once you’re done you can sit down and have yourself a drink.

16mm f/22, 30 sec, ISO 160

How to Get to Pier 1 Café

Subway

Take the 1, 2, or 3 Lines to W 72nd Street. Walk to West End Ave and W 70th Street. Continue on W 70th Street until you reach Riverside Blvd then walk South to W 68th Street then follow walking directions. (Note: W 68th Street does not connect to Riverside Blvd, thus we suggest the W 70th Street route). (Source. Piericafe.com)

Bus

Take M72
cross-town to W 70th Street and Riverside Blvd (last stop.) Walk South to W 68th Street then follow walking directions.

Foot

Walk to Riverside Blvd. (not Riverside Drive) and W 68th Street. Find the path to the right (North) of the playground. Walk down the path (West toward the water), it will bring you into Riverside Park South and to Pier i Café.

Visitor Information


Photography Gear to Capture New York Skyline Photos at Night

To really make the most of the city skyline at night you’ll want to bring a wide-angle lens. I use my Canon 16 -35 mm f2.8 as well as my 24-105 mm f4 to give me flexibility with composition.

Bring a tripod, in low-light, you’ll want it for stability and the long exposure you’ll need to make an image.



37 thoughts on “Where to Photograph Stunning Views of the New York Skyline at Night

  1. christysdiaryblog says:

    Incredible pictures of an incredible city! Just got brought back to New York in an instant 🙂 I posted a little something about New York on my blog a few days ago: maybe you can go and check it out!

    • Susan Portnoy says:

      Thanks a million, that’s my favorite of the group. Something a tad different from a location that is waaaaaay over shot but a great time.
      Thank you for the link. I really like your work. I don’t have much experience with cityscapes and architectural photography and am trying to practice more. If you’re ever back in NYC..lets go shoot together!

      • JBphotography says:

        Sure, that would be awesome! I hope i’ll find a way to visit this beautiful city soon again… 🙂
        You’re right. The photo with the locks is nice because it’s something special. I’ve never seen this perspective before! And as far as i can judge your experience with cityscapes & architectural photography i think you’re doing just fine!

  2. Robert Doyle says:

    Just found your blog and will do some further exploring, but I went right to this one. If you haven’t already taken photos there already, another good viewpoint is in Astoria, just up from Socrates Sculpture Garden and Rainey Park, and continuing in places all the way up to Astoria Park. I recently moved out that way and there are great photographic opportunities!

      • Robert Doyle says:

        You are very welcome Susan! I used some of the shots from that in my most recent blog. I like that area too because you also (depending on where you are) have Roosevelt Island as a backdrop too, not to mention bridges, one of my favorite subjects 🙂

      • Susan Portnoy says:

        I checked out the blog.. looks great. Is there anyway to scroll through the 88 images or do you have to open each one individually? Couldn’t see any way to do it but the latter.

      • Robert Doyle says:

        Thanks! At the bottom is a gallery which you can open the first and keep clicking next to see them all. This was a milestone blog so that is why there is so many! Normally I only have no more than 10 or so

    • Susan Portnoy says:

      Thank you.. I think it’s my favorite of the bunch. I was pretty proud of myself on the angle and the shadow of the tiny lock to the far left. LOL In Paris, the gov’t just took down all the lover’s locks. There were so many (thousands) that it was actually messing with the stability of the structure.

  3. Robin S. Kent says:

    Hi, Susan. Great post on Brooklyn Bridge Park. Excellent night images. I love that place. Where are those pilings? I’ve not seen them on my visits. I read in the NY Times that Pier 6 is opening up some new sections in August. SInce you ask for a link to shots from there, here it one: http://www.photographybykent.com/#mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=15&p=7&a=0&at=0
    I plan to be back in NYC September 14-17, maybe we could link up for some shooting. We’re still deciding on locations, but since it’s been a while since we’ve been to Brooklyn, that’s one probable destination.

    • Susan Portnoy says:

      Hi Robin – That whole area is under massive construction. A couple of big lux apartment buildings are half finished right next to where the park starts.

      The pilings are right in front of where it says “Squibb Park & Bridge. http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/pages/map

      I would love to shoot with you when you’re in. However, there is a chance I’ll be back in Kenya.. Lets make sure to keep in touch. Also, Leanne will be in NYC at that time too. You should meet up with her too. If I’m in town.. it would be great for the three of us to get together.

      • Robin S. Kent says:

        Thanks, Susan. Hope it works out. I’ll keep in touch. Also will check with Leanne and see if the 3 of us can sync up. Also thanks for the info on the pilings. I’ll check that out. And in your post, you asked for ideas on faviorite places in our home locations. There are many here in Washington DC. Let me know the day, and I’ll give you the place;-)

  4. leecleland says:

    The one where you bumped the camera on a long exposure has given the image a wonderful textured look. You always have beautifully sharp images with natural colour so this one was a lovely surprise.

    • Susan Portnoy says:

      I was surprised too. It was just a tap so at least the outline of the images are mostly still in tact which is why I liked it. I’m going to try some experiments with that “technique” (LOL) in the future and see what I come up with. I kinda dig it.

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