Updated January 2021
There are few cities with the grandeur and magical quality of the New York City skyline at night. Its skyscrapers and bridges light the dark like a fairytale. Along the east and Hudson rivers are a couple of easy to get to parks close to public transportation, as well as great spots for capturing some of the best panoramas of Manhattan.
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. It’s also one of the best views of the New York City Skyline. 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
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 day 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 site and a lot of photographers line up to take pictures.
Harbor View Lawn
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
For this view, make your way past the lookout to the north side of the bridge, almost near its base at the edge of Empire Fulton Ferry Park.
Brooklyn Bridge, Jane’s Carousel, and NYC Skyline
Continuing north from Ferry Park you’ll come to Jane’s Carousel. A walkway from Jane’s Carousel skirts the shore to Pebble Beach where you can sit on concrete steps, stadium-style to watch the sunset with the carousel, Brooklyn Bridge, and the World Trade Center in the frame.
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.
|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
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.
How to Get to Gantry State Park from Manhattan
|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 1 Café. It’s not from a distance as you have on the east side but from below.
The great thing about the location, once you’re done you can sit down and have yourself a drink.
How to Get to Pier 1 Café
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)
cross-town to W 70th Street and Riverside Blvd (last stop.) Walk South to W 68th Street then follow walking directions.
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 1 Café.
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.
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