Top New York Rooftops to Take Photos From

NYC Skyline photo tour

New York City is one of the largest concrete jungles in the world, with photo-worthy locations around every corner. In a previous NYC Photo Safari post we provided a lengthy list of the places in the city where you can get a good photo. A lot of the best places in the city are actually on the top of tall buildings, where photographers can experience great views of the breathtaking New York skyline. In an article on Yoreevo by real estate expert James McGrath, he claims there is more than 13,500 high-rise buildings that are above six stories high – a feat that is unmatched across the world. While not all of those rooftops are accessible to the public, New York is famous for its rooftop food and culture scene, which present plenty of opportunities for photographs. 
If you’re talking about iconic rooftops in New York City, the Empire State Building is at the top of the list. This iconic building has view decks on the 86th and 102nd floors. The observatories provide a spectacular view of the city that you can’t get anywhere else. One thing you’ll have to do before scheduling a trip there is to check the weather, since the best place to take photos is the outdoor viewing deck on the 86th floor. The best time to go to the Empire State Building is on a clear and dry day.

The Rockefeller Center is another well-known rooftop destination in the city. This historic building houses the NBC studios and the Radio City Music Hall. It’s also home to a number of works of art such as the famous bronze sculpture of Atlas. The best view however is at the top. The ‘Top of the Rock’ is a six-level observatory that provides views to popular landmarks in the city like the Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park. The Digital Picture suggests the best time of day to visit the Top of the Rock is during sunset. Try to be at the top of the building at least thirty minutes before sunset to give you enough time to prepare to get a good photograph. 

If you’re more into sipping cocktails while taking photos of beautiful skyline views, a NYC rooftop bar might be the place for you. At the top of the Flatiron Building is a bar called 230 Fifth. Come up during the evenings to take photos of the beautiful rooftop garden against a backdrop full of twinkling lights. The bar is open all year round, equipped with inflatable igloos in winter and heat lamps for the summer. Travel and Leisure states that the bar offers a happy hour on weekdays from 2-7pm, so you can sip some great value cocktails while snapping the New York skyline.

Another bar you might want to check out is La Piscine. The bar is located on top of Hotel Americano, nestled in the center of the city’s Chelsea district. The New York Times Style Magazine explains that to get to the top, you have to pass through a glass elevator located outside the hotel. The view from La Piscine offers a more gritty landscape of New York overlooking industrial Chelsea. The poolside bar frames the skyline in the most beautiful way, making for a really stunning photograph.

Now that you know where to go to take the best photographs in the city, another important step is knowing when to go. Many photographers suggest taking rooftop photos a little before sunset, so you can try shooting both in the day and in the night. Our NYC Photo Safari chart for sunset and sunrise times will be a useful tool in knowing what time you should start heading up to the rooftops. Planning ahead when preparing to take beautiful photos of the NYC skyline is half the battle, so make sure you’ve done your research before clicking the shutter.