Gantry Plaza State Park is a 12-acre park along the East River in Queens, NY. From here you have a clear view of the midtown New York City skyline, and the park itself is also makes for interesting photographs.
Getting to Gantry Plaza State Park
The park is located on the East River along Center Blvd. between 49th Ave. and 47th Rd. in Long Island City. The Long Island Expressway is just a few blocks away; those driving westbound would get off at the Van Dam Street exit, and those driving eastbound would get off at the Pulaski Dr./Borden Ave. exit. I visited on a weeknight and found parking one block away from the park within minutes.
Nearby subway stops are:
- 7 train, Hunters Point Avenue Station
- G train, 21st Street Station
Certain Long Island Rail Road lines stop at Hunterspoint Ave.
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The View at Gantry Plaza State Park
This park provides a great view of the midtown Manhattan skyline. You can see the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the United Nations.
Hours of operation are 8 am - 10 pm and if you arrive during these times you can go out on the walkways that extend into the river for unobsructed views of the skyline in front of you, as well as views up and down the river.
If you arrive after 10 pm the park's walkways will be closed, but you can still shoot the skyline from the public sidewalk. This shot was taken late at night after the park had been closed and roped off:
The walkways out onto the water are great for shooting the sunset. Since you are looking west towards Manhattan, the sun will set behind the buildings creating a silhouetted skyline. One of the nicest sunsets I have ever seen in New York was from this vantage point.
A tripod is very useful in Gantry Plaza State Park. Not only can you use it to get long exposures during and after sunset, but the extended shutter speeds are also useful for creating a smooth, whispy texture on the waters of the East River. This effect is my personal preference over the choppy water surface that shows up at fast shutter speeds.
If you do not have a tripod, there are many chairs, benches and other surfaces on which you can rest your camera in order to take long exposure shots. Just don't drop your camera in the river.
You'll find a use for all your lenses here. Aside from the standard mid-range focal lengths, you can use ultra-wide angles to to create super wide images encompassing the entire visible skyline, as well as telephoto focal lengths to isolate individual parts or even single buildings.
A Different View of the Skyline
Gantry Plaza State Park is a nice place to visit for a different perspective on the NYC skyline. It's not as heavily visited as Brooklyn Bridge Park so there will be less people around, and you'll get a point of view on the skyline that is not seen as often as the classic "Brooklyn Bridge shot".