Manhattan Entrance: Park Row, nr. Municipal Bldg.
Brooklyn Entrance: Cadman Plaza.
Get in the pedestrian lane, ignore the dizzying din of cars below, and snap some unforgettable shots of the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, and the New York Harbor. Of course, with its trademark soaring arches and steel cables, the bridge itself is an excellent backdrop.
Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Above the Brooklyn Queens Expressway between Remsen and Orange Sts., Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn.
This scenic walkway, featured in many a Woody Allen film, is where Brooklynites come to gaze on their sister borough—the less homey, but still awe-inspiring, Manhattan. It’s also the quintessential viewing point of the city’s defining landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Bowling Green Park, between Broadway and Whitehall St.
This 7,000-pound bronze statue, inspired by Black Monday (October 19, 1987), was created by New York City artist Arturo DiModica in 1989 and has become synonymous with Wall Street. And because of its, shall we say, bullish underside, it’s one of the city’s most photographed pieces of public art.
59th St. to 110th St., between Fifth Ave. and Central Park W. (enter at 72nd St. on east or west side).
One of the city’s premier destinations for both natives and visitors, Central Park is bursting with bucolic woodlands, arch-covered waterways, and photo-ready landscape architecture. For starters, try the meticulously groomed, fifteen-acre green lawn at Sheep Meadow; the ornate Angel of the Waters fountain at Bethesda Terrace; the panorama of Turtle Pond from the top of turreted Belvedere Castle; or the John Lennon–inspired “Strawberry Fields” mosaic.
Along Canal St., from Bowery to W. Broadway.
Still dominated by immigrants, its bustling main artery (Canal Street) is the closest some of us may ever get to the People’s Republic. Fruit peddlers, fresh-fish vendors, and shadier shops selling knockoff bags line the streets, adding to the visual stimulation of a neighborhood where even the McDonald’s sign is in Mandarin. Lucky you if you visit during Chinese New Year.
405 Lexington Ave., at 42nd St.; 212-682-3070.
Of the countless skyscrapers visible from the Empire State Building’s observation deck, this one may be the most romantic. The Chrysler Building is a true Art Deco monument, its polished chromium nickel gleaming even when the sky’s cloudy. Keep your eyes peeled for the stainless-steel eagle gargoyles roosting on the 59th and 61st floors.
Empire State Building
350 Fifth Ave., nr. 33rd St.; 212-736-3100.
Once the tallest building in the world, this 102-story, limestone-and-granite-covered monolith is constantly awash in colored lights. On a clear day, views from the 86th-floor observation deck stretch as far as Massachusetts.
175 Fifth Ave., nr. 22nd St.
A striking triangular sliver, this historic landmark of the so-called Ladies’ Mile fans outward from Fifth Avenue to Broadway, with its rounded, prowlike front measuring only six feet across. Shaped like an old-fashioned iron, the building has been captured by photographers Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, and countless tourists.
Fort Tryon Park
Cabrini Blvd. and Ft. Washington Ave.; 212 795-1388.
This upper-Manhattan green space sits atop a wooded hill that grants views of the Hudson River on one side and the Bronx on the other. The park houses the breathtaking Cloisters, the uptown branch of the Met, where monastery gardens and medieval stone columns imported from France surround a priceless collection of tapestries and artifacts.
88th St. and E. End Ave.; 212-570-4773.
Itself a photo op, this historic landmark and official home to New York City’s mayors provides excellent panoramas of the East River, the Triboro and Queensboro Bridges, and Randall’s and Roosevelt islands. The best shots are to be taken from Carl Schurz Park, the former private gardens of the mansion.
Grand Army Plaza
The intersection of Flatbush Ave., Eastern Pkwy., Prospect Park W., Brooklyn.
Brooklyn’s version of the Arc de Triomphe, the plaza’s 80-foot arch is elaborately carved and ornately decorated, with dramatic bronze sculptures such as Lady Columbia and her chariot (an allegorical representation of the United States). Bronze relief panels of Presidents Lincoln and Grant line the plaza walls and the Bailey Fountain adds to the picture-perfect scene.
Grand Central Terminal
42nd to 44th Sts., between Vanderbilt and Lexington Aves.; 212-697-7713.
Inside the Grand Concourse, warm and welcoming light diffuses into the underground space via Roman triumphal-arch windows reaching 60 feet high. Don’t forget to look up: A firmament of constellations covers the restored ceiling.
1071 Fifth Ave., at 89th St.; 212-423-3500.
The unusual spiral shape of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece has been luring visitors since 1959. Gaze up the inner spiral ramp to catch Wright’s take on the rigid geometry of modernist architecture. Circular shapes repeat throughout the building, from the spiraling rotunda to the oval columns.
70 Lincoln Center Plz., at 62nd St.; 212-875-5000.
At 16.3 acres, it’s the largest performing-arts facility in the world, and the site of soaring structures that radiate around a glorious signature fountain, used to great romantic effect in Moonstruck.
151 W. 34th St., at Broadway; 212-695-4400.
It started in 1858 as a fancy dry-goods shop on 14th Street and Sixth Avenue, and has grown into the most recognizable department store in the country. Ornate holiday windows and a famous Thanksgiving Day parade only add to its charm.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Ave., at 82nd St.; 212-535-7710.
Not only is the building itself an impressive feat, but the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, open May through late fall, is one of the most unique outdoor sculpture spaces in the city. It’s also where museumgoers grab a drink and enjoy the incredible views of Central Park.
New York Stock Exchange
18 Broad St., at Exchange Pl.; 212-656-3000.
Built in 1903 with towering neoclassical columns, the Stock Exchange epitomizes America’s capitalist ethic. The Broad Street façade, draped since September 11, 2001 with a massive American flag, is crowned with a 22-foot sculpture representing Integrity, with the figures of Agriculture and Mining to the left, and Science, Industry, and Invention to the right.
Rockefeller Center and Top of the Rock
Rockefeller Plz. at 50th St.; 212-332-6868.
This nineteen-building complex in midtown is rife with photo opportunities. Around the winter holidays, there’s the Art Deco GE building and its adjoining sunken ice rink overseen by Paul Manship’s golden statue Prometheus — not to mention the enormous Christmas tree and Radio City Music Hall’s brightly lit façade. Views of the Empire State Building and far, far beyond beckon from the 70th-floor viewing platform, known as Top of the Rock.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
14 E. 51st St., at Fifth Ave.; 212-753-2261.
Located across from Rockefeller Center, St. Pat’s is one of the city’s most spectacular architectural sights, modeled in a mélange of Gothic revival styles with two soaring, 330-foot-tall spires.
Staten Island Ferry
Manhattan: Whitehall Ferry Terminal , 4 South St., at Whitehall St.; 718-727-2508.
Staten Island: St. George Ferry Terminal, 1 Bay St.; 718-727-2508.
As if a free boat cruise isn’t a great deal already, the Staten Island Ferry also offers waterside views of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
Statue of Liberty
1 Liberty Island; 212-363-3200.
Though access to Lady Liberty has been limited since 9/11, the crown is open for visitors. If the 377 steps up to the top are too daunting, there’s a glass covering that makes it possible to take in the view from lesser altitudes.
Broadway and Seventh Ave., from about 42nd to 47th Sts.; 212-768-1560.
Visitors flock to see the biggest Broadway shows, shop at megastores, eat at over-the-top theme restaurants, or just gaze up at the giant TV screens and billboards that illuminate the sky.
River Ave. at 161st St., the Bronx; 718-293-4300.
Baseball fans don’t just head to the House That Ruth Built for a game; they also stop by Monument Park for a picture with their idols. This secluded garden beyond the left-field fence proudly displays plaques of Yankee greats from Babe Ruth to Don Mattingly.