New York City, one of the world’s magnificent metropolises, has long captivated filmmakers, writers, and photographers hoping to capture its stunning architecture and vibrant spirit. Although you might not create another great movie about NYC, you might feel inspired at least to share some of your experiences of the trip on your social media accounts.
Here’s our guide to a few of the most popular Instagram spots in New York City, along with a local’s tips on taking pictures that will capture your followers’ attention and boost your likes.
1. Top Of The Rock
Taking a shot of Manhattan from the Empire State Building is a great way to get an overview of the city in all directions, but you’ll miss one important element: the Empire State Building. To get a much better view, walk 16 blocks north (about 20 minutes) to Rockefeller Plaza and purchase your Top of the Rock ticket.
Upon reaching the 67th floor, take the stairs up to the observatory on the third floor to enjoy an amazing view of Central Park on one side and Lower Manhattan ( which includes the Empire State Building) on the other side.
2. The Oculus
Even though the exterior of the new PATH station and shopping hub in New York City is controversial (some dislike the abstract shape resembling a winged dove), Santiago Calatrava’s Oculus remains one of the most striking structures in the city.
The mall’s interior has been a favorite among Instagrammers, who often head up to the upper level to snap photos of the futuristic rib-like skylight rising from the ceiling.
3. Brooklyn Bridge
If you want a classic view of the Brooklyn Bridge, you should visit Pebble Beach in the riverside Brooklyn area of Dumbo, where you can see the bridge in all its glory alongside the Manhattan skyline in the background.
Taking your photo at sunset will let you capture the twilight glow behind the city, but be prepared to compete with a few wedding parties. For those of you with a more artistic bent, you can walk up onto the bridge itself and take a picture of its stunning cabled arches (be careful to stay to the left of the walkway, as a cyclist might hit you).
4. Manhattan Bridge From Dumbo
You’ve probably seen at least one photo of this famous view on Instagram. When you stand at the corner of Water and Washington streets in Dumbo, you’ll see two red-brick warehouses framing the Manhattan Bridge perfectly. If you want the best shot, align the bridge legs so you can see the Empire State Building in the distance.
5. Flatiron Building
As one of the city’s most unusual architectural landmarks, the Flatiron Building can be difficult to photograph since it’s perspective changes hugely based on where you stand within it. Alternatively, if you want a view that shows off the triangular shape of the structure, consider standing on the traffic island at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 24th Street.
If you’d like to capture the building’s eastern flank, stand on the edge of Madison Square Park (you’ll also be able to capture some foliage from this vantage point). It is best not to take your picture early in the morning; otherwise, shadows cast by surrounding buildings will appear on the Flatiron.
When in Madison Square Park, make sure to stop at the original Shake Shack location (if you don’t mind the line). If you’re looking for a more classic touch to New York, check out the vintage 1929 luncheonette, Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop, on Fifth Avenue.
6. Times Square
Whether you love it or hate it, Times Square is an integral part of New York City’s identity. There can be a lot of tourists in the Theater District, making taking pictures of the neon heart of the district difficult. As an alternative, take the elevator to the 8th-floor Broadway Lounge of the New York Marriott Marquis, from which you can see Times Square from above.
If you want an even better view (albeit a little more expensive), reserve a table at the hotel’s 48th-floor revolving restaurant, The View.
7. Chrysler Building
You can take a good photo of the Chrysler Building, surrounded by a typical New York streetscape, following Lexington Avenue north a little while beyond 37th Street. If you would like a nearly uninterrupted panoramic shot of the stunning Art Deco skyscraper, proceed to the northeast corner of 44th Street and Third Avenue.
What makes it the best? Not many tourists know about this spot, so you won’t have to fight for elbow room for your ideal Instagram shot.
8. Grand Central Station
After you’ve relived memorable movie moments in Grand Central Station’s main concourse, don’t forget to admire the building’s magnificent Beaux-Arts architecture. Alternatively, take a stroll up to the east or west balconies for a panoramic view of the hustle and bustle and photograph the scene (pro tip: the constant stream of people makes a fantastic Boomerang).
For those who prefer the finer details, take a picture of one of the magnificent chandeliers or the opal-faced clock (estimated to be valued at more than $10 million) on top of the booth. Make sure you take your photos during the day so that you can take advantage of the natural light that streams through the arched windows during the day.
9. The Brownstone Stoop
It’s impossible to think of a more New York City vignette than the brownstone stoop, which has the advantage of being the easiest photo to capture with so many options.
While the West Village is a good place to take your picture, you’ll find a lot of tourists there. Rather, choose a Brooklyn neighborhood known for its brownstones, such as Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Fort Greene, or Clinton Hill.
As the weather heats up, you will see the locals socialize on their stoops and likely find a handful of books – folks leave their unwanted books on the stairs for anyone to pick up.
10. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir
Honestly, you could spend all day taking Instagram pictures in Central Park, but for a particularly beautiful viewpoint, visit the eastern edge of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.
It’s a great spot for capturing the magnificent skyline of the Upper West Side, along with the expansive body of water in the background. As you make your way back to the subway, keep an eye out for Frank Lloyd Wright’s stunning Guggenheim museum to snap for your Instagram.
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