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.
1000 Surf Ave., at W. 12th St., Brooklyn.
From howling carnies to bursting fireworks to the legendary wood-track Cyclone roller coaster, there’s no shortage of colorful characters and sights to snap along South Brooklyn’s storied boardwalk.
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 (though not the current one) 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 cover the restored ceiling.