High above the city that never sleeps!

With bright blue skies I made a snap decision to head straight to Pier 84 where I could get my hop-on/hop-off Water Taxi ticket (free with my New York Pass) plus they can organise you a ticket for the 9/11 Memorial. Killing two birds with one stone I was on the first boat of the day at 9:00am. It’s an express run that takes you straight to the Statue of Liberty for a quick photo opportunity which was great in the morning light and then drops you off at Battery Park.

From there it’s a short walk up to the 9/11 Memorial site. You have to queue a few blocks away, go through several airport-style security checks and scans before finally making your way to the memorial site. Where the two world trade centre buildings once stood they have created these square waterfalls and in the centre is a hole that you can’t see the bottom of giving the illusion of a bottomless pit while around the waterfalls they have engraved the names of all the people who lost their lives in the attacks.

Towering above the memorial site is the new One World Trade building that is still under construction. At the moment it is 1250ft tall but when completed it will be 1776ft. Why that number you may ask. That was the year that America declared its independence.

I then headed back up to Pier 84 where the SS Intrepid, a retired aircraft carrier that is permanently docked and has been turned into a museum. Once again entrance to the museum was included on my New York Pass card and for a few dollars extra I also got a ticket to enter big silver dome you see on the flight deck.

Inside is the space shuttle Enterprise that had only arrived in New York a few weeks before I did and so I got to see it up close and personal and it’s amazing to think that an aircraft that size can be rocketed into space and re-enter through the earth’s atmosphere. An amazing feat of engineering.

My water taxi ticket was valid for the whole day so after exploring the rest of the SS Intrepid museum I hopped back on the boat just cruised down the Hudson with New Jersey on the right…

…and then around downtown Manhattan. Later in the afternoon, the sun had moved over providing great light for photography of the New York skyline.

After the one and a half hour round trip it was nearing sunset and so I rushed to the Empire State building with plans to get some photos of the sunset from the top. However I slightly underestimated the holiday crowds and arrived to find a 45 minute wait time just to get to the elevators. Then once at the top there was another 25 minute waiting time for the elevator to take you up the last six floors to the observation deck. Just then a steward appeared from a doorway to the left and announced that anyone who wanted to avoid the wait could take the stairs. With the sun sinking and the light fading I didn’t hesitate and was the first one into the stairwell in the centre of the building. I ran up the stairs and was greeted by one of the guides at the top announcing me as the first person up but I didn’t have time to hang around and rushed outside, managed to squeeze through the crowds and get my lens through the wire fencing to catch a shot of the sun setting.

Goal accomplished I relaxed and just enjoyed the views as I waited for darkness to fall and the lights of New York to come on. You aren’t allowed to take a tripod up the Empire State Building so taking long exposure shots isn’t easy but with a bit of patience andย persistenceย I eventually managed to get some shots that I was happy with. This first shot is looking North towards Central Park with the bright lights of Times Square illuminating the buildings just left of centre and cars on 5th Avenue towards the bottom right of the picture.

Looking East, across the East River, there was a full moon low in the sky.

And of course the view of Downtown Manhattan with the Brooklyn Bridge to the left, the new One World Trade in the centre and the Hudson River on the right.

I could have stayed up there all night looking at this view, taking in the magic of the city that never sleeps, New York!

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About Rory Alexander

Ever growing blogger that spent 2 years in living in China, then 6 weeks backpacking around New Zealand and is now back home in South Africa for the foreseeable future.

66 responses to “High above the city that never sleeps!”

  1. Monica Briano says :

    Wow you worked hard for those photos! The world center memorial must have been powerful to see. Thank goodness for great sun light, your photos came out great!

  2. jsinclair1987 says :

    Wow very nice photo’s the skyline shots are my favourties. Any other cities in the pipeline for the future? Chicago perhaps?

  3. Stephen Liddell says :

    Really nice post and photos. It’s like being there!

  4. Tony Marquis says :

    Nice pics, great post. I just wish that NYC wasn’t referred to all the time as “The city that never sleeps”. It does. It is dead after 2:00am until it kicks back again with the early morning street cleaners etc

    • Rory Alexander says :

      Thanks Tony, funnily enough as I was walking around the next morning very few of the shops were open at 8:00am and thought to myself that the nickname was a little strange.

  5. Daniel Dalena says :

    Excellent night shots. It seems like you’re flying around in a helicopter or something, I always forget how tall the empire is.

  6. idreamofeden says :

    I have always been drawn to NY but have not yet been there. Congrats on being freshly pressed, your photos definitely took me there and gave me something to look forward to!

    • Rory Alexander says :

      Thank you so much, I appreciate the comment. Glad to hear my photos made you feel like you were there, objective achieved. There definitely is a draw about New York and you must go if you get a chance.

  7. antheaschronicles says :

    Awesome pics….. makings of a great photographer….

  8. barefoot_med_student says :

    Very cool photos. I visited that part of NYC way back when the memorial site was still under construction. Wish I could go there now.

  9. organoplanet says :

    Reblogged this on kocuvan.com and commented:
    BIG APPLE!

  10. girlandthoughts says :

    Beautiful pictures and great descriptions. I live in England and I hope to visit New York one day ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. theinfinitejourneyblog says :

    oh my goodness! what beautiful photos! did you take these? I think If I was that high up my hands and feet would start to tingle! lol!! kudos for the great photos and being up so high!

  12. the audacious amateur blogger says :

    Lovely to see my home through the flawless photography of a visitor. It gives a new and different perspective. I already heart NY to death but rarely do the “touristy” things like ride the Staten Island ferry. I haven’t even visited the 9/11 memorial… And I personally witnessed the attacks and the collapse of the towers while working downtown the day it happened (which if anyone cares can be read about in my blog lost, The day the devil took over NYC, 9/11 remembered).

    One tourist activity I did partake in, often, was going to the too of the Empire State Building to experience the fantastic, it reaaally never gets old views. I had the luxury of doing this at leisure, for free and bypassing the crazy holiday lines because I worked there and employees were given a free VIP pass. You chose the perfect time to go up. Sunset. Fantastic. Again, thanks for sharing!

    • Rory Alexander says :

      Thanks so much for your considered comment. Sometimes I thought I should have done more real NY stuff and not just the “touristy” things as you say but that is what I associate with NY and so I wanted to tick those off first seeing as I only had 6 days. I can recommend the Staten Island ferry on a good weather day though. I can’t imagine what the 9/11 attacks must have been like to witness but the memorial was well done I thought and worth a visit, for you especially.

      The Empire State is great but for my money I think Top of the Rock was almost better, less people, no barriers or fencing although not as high. So if you haven’t done it yet, I’d say give that a try next ๐Ÿ™‚

      • the audacious amateur blogger says :

        Interesting observation, RE: Top of the Rock vs. Empire State Building. I have been to Top of the Rock but not for a while. Funny, how people who live, born and raised in a city, experience it totally differently from visitors. That is why I don’t really like to give my opinion on what’s “best” of places of I’ve traveled to. I can say How I enjoyed it as a tourist, but living somewhere..is a WHOLE other story.

      • Rory Alexander says :

        Yes a tourist’s view is often very different to that of a local and sometimes you learn something when you see your home town through the eyes of a foreigner.

  13. davidatqcm says :

    Nicely worked weaving of a picture montage and text. welldone and congratulations on your PF, a remarkable achievement. Must be a wonderful feeling when a blog you submitted launches you into the stratosphere of WordPress bloggers.. Well done

  14. fieryskulldiaries says :

    beautiful. i can’t wait to visit nyc with my camera too!

  15. Rangan Datta says :

    Wonderful write up and pix. Its a pity that the Empire State Building doesn’t allow tripods. You must have great difficulty shooting the long exposure shots. Probably a higher ISO solved the problem. By the way which camera do you use?

    • Rory Alexander says :

      Thank you so much. Yes I was annoyed not being allowed my tripod but made a plan to keep the camera as still as possible. I don’t like to use a higher ISO because of noise on the image so shot all these at ISO 100 and 5-10 second exposures. I use a Canon 550D camera.

      • Rangan Datta says :

        5 – 10 sec hand held, you must have hands of steel !!!! great job man.

        Its true ISO increases the noise but in high end cameras (like 5D) the noise is substantially reduced at high ISO.

        I use Nikon D60 and suffers from the same problem. I rarely go beyond 200 ISO.

  16. Humans Are Weird says :

    I really like the photo that’s below ‘down the Hudson with NJ on the right.’ It’s brilliant!

    The sun gleaming through the clouds and shining down on NY does it for me; makes me think of some celestial lordship peaking down at earth through a ubiquitous magnifying lens, while stroking his beard.

    Sweet blog, mate.

    • Rory Alexander says :

      When I saw the sun and the clouds like you described them I had to get a shot and hoped it would come out just as dramatic as it was to see. Cheers for visiting and commenting.

  17. aditamaphoto says :

    wow…
    it’s a great picture…
    especially skyline shoot…

  18. Saajida says :

    Your pictures are stunning ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. littlecitybot says :

    WOW those 2 skyline pics are incredible.

    you highlighted some really cool things to do in NY! the image of the new world trade building really struck me actually…i dunno, in my mind i was like “wow, it’s a bit soon to rebuild no?” but then i realized 9/11 was actually more than a decade ago!! crazy! really interesting stuff. thanks for sharing!

    • Rory Alexander says :

      THANKS. I did all the touristy things but as a first time visitor I felt like I had to do them and next time when I have more time I’ll do some different things. I can’t believe 9/11 was so long ago, it still feels like yesterday. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  20. alterego9221 says :

    I’d love to visit NY someday! Greetings from Romania! ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. phreak says :

    This is beautiful. I really love your pictures — they bring back memories in NYC. I had missed that place a lot. Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. GG says :

    Great photos. just like it the way you see things.

  23. dearestnelly says :

    ironical it may sound, but this is a place i still yet have to explore ๐Ÿ˜€ thanks for the visit & like as well.

  24. Jess @UsedYorkCity says :

    Massive props for running up the Empire State Building! Totally worth it…your pics are gorgeous, and it looks like you had a fabulous time! Come visit again soon!:-)

  25. Suzy says :

    I’m leaving for New York tomorrow so your post got me excited. I definitely want to get up the Empire State Building at night. I have only been up during the day. Your shots look remarkable! That’s pretty impressive without a tripod.

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