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 85 acres of 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 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.
38 thoughts on “Where to Photograph the New York City Skyline at Night”
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very beautiful photo and spectacular
THESE ARE AWESOME PICTURES. IF YOU LOOK CLOSELY AT THE THIRD PICTURE, IT LOOKS LIKE THERE IS A DRAGON’S FACE IN THE CLOUDS. SWEET.
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!
Thank you so much!
Great pics. My favourite landmark in New York is Brooklyn Bridge ;-). I love the Lover’s lock photo. I did a couple during the day: https://www.facebook.com/ebourneimages/photos/pcb.637374653072253/637374299738955/?type=3&theater
Such Stunning photography.
Thank you! I’m really happy you like it.
i really like the shot with the lovers locks. It is a nice perpective! 🙂
I also took some photos at Brooklyn Bridge Park on my trip to NYC last year . You can see some of the shots here:
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!
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!
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!
Hi Robert! Welcome and thanks for spending time. I’m completely unfamiliar with the area and glad to have a recommendation. I’ll have to check it out. Thank you!
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 🙂
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.
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
Ok.. will check it out. 🙂
You make me want to be doing that right this minute!
Couldn’t have asked for a better compliment Elen!
Thanks for the post, with great photos, and good info about where to get good photos! I really love the profile pic at the top of your blog site!
Hi Marlan- So glad you enjoyed the post and find it useful. And thanks about the pic! My friend Christopher Michel took it when we were on safari in Kenya in 2013.
Thanks for your reply! tc
Great picture of the lovers’ locks, I have’t seen that before…
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.
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.
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.
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;-)
You got it Robin!
Reblogged this on gavalolife and commented:
Amazing post! Great ideas for photographing in NYC!
I’m glad you enjoyed! Thanks so much.
Why thank you Julz! Have a great night. 🙂
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.
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.
Look forward to seeing some of them 🙂
spectacular. I like the second one most.
Thanks! I’m glad you liked it. 🙂