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Thread: Sunset watching in NYC

  1. #1

    Default Sunset watching in NYC

    October 13, 2002
    Golden Rules

    THIS city works too hard and too late to make sunset-watching a priority. But at dusk, on busy street corners where there is open sky, people will look up, point west at a fuchsia smear and shake their heads, as if to ask, "Where did that come from?"

    Only a few regularly see the sun set.

    "It almost looks like you're getting into heaven," said Sarah Sanchez, an executive receptionist who works in a 52nd-floor office in the Viacom building at Times Square, where sunsets are so exquisite that young workers for MTV and Nickelodeon gather almost every night in offices with the best views. "It really makes my day."

    But most New Yorkers have less access and may want more than the accidental glimpse. Which leads to the question: Is there any science to help determine what will be a good sunset in the city, where are the best places to watch, and when is the perfect moment to show up?

    The bad news is that seeing the sunset well takes a big effort: bike rides, subways, long walks, and, of course, money. Furthermore, the city is too big, and the weather too erratic, to make such a quest even slightly systematic.

    The good news is that the season is now. Though a few experts prefer summer, many believe that the most exquisite sunsets in this city happen in autumn.

    One reason is that the air in autumn can be stagnant and humid. This increases the atmosphere's haze and pollution, which in turn help give the effect of a big ball of fire.

    "It's one of the few good things about air pollution," said Tony Barnston, head of Forecast Operations for the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction in Palisades, N.Y. "A silver lining."

    Second, for bands of color that change from pinks and golds to melancholy blue, you need a certain amount of clouds. Not too many in the west so that that they block the sun, but enough within, say, 20 miles from where the person is watching to reflect the sun going down.

    Naturally, you must face west, across the Hudson toward New Jersey. (Since Manhattan is tilted, west is really slightly south toward the Statue of Liberty.) You must be on time. (This week, the sun sets around 6:15.) And the higher you are, the better and longer your view.

    Sadly, some people say that the best places to watch are gone. The trade center featured indoor and outdoor observation decks as well as Windows on the World, on the 107th floor of 1 World Trade Center.

    "Sometimes they were so brilliant in red and orange, it was like the entire horizon was lit up," said Glenn Vogt, a former general manager of Windows. "Heaven forbid you were sitting at a meeting when the sun went down, because everything would stop.

    "I miss those sunsets," he added. "They took away the sunset."

    In fact, few skyscrapers have public observatories anymore. The city's highest buildings, like the Chrysler Building and MetLife, offer no view for hoi polloi. A number of hotels and restaurants cost big money or make viewing cumbersome. At the Rainbow Room on the 65th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, to face directly west requires ordering dinner. At the bar some distance away, the only real option is to order a $6.50 club soda and squint past busboys and customers.

    In what is once again the city's tallest building, the Empire State Building's observation deck remains. On a cloudy Wednesday in September, it took 25 minutes, a winding line, two humid elevators and $9 to get to the 86th floor, just in time to see the big orange ball go down.

    Visibility was 10 miles (according to a sign downstairs), giving the view of "the gently rolling hills of the Ramapo Mountains and beyond," as the brochure says. Five people tried to elbow their way into a desirable spot on the ledge. The gate that blocks the view produces a caged-in feeling that makes meditative spacing-out harder to achieve.

    Yet the sunset's intensity almost made one forget these drawbacks. At 7:04, the underbelly of one gray cloud turned electric white, causing streaks the color of baby aspirin. At 7:30, clouds of lavender, periwinkle and violet were still morphing atop a swath of light blue sky. Meanwhile, the sky in the east was dark.

    Though not open to the public, Trump Place at 220 Riverside Drive, where a two-bedroom apartment can rent for $7,000, allows a select few to catch the sunset. On a cloudless evening recently, the clouds ignited just past 6:30, and streaks of pink, yellow and cream lingered for nearly an hour, long after night had fallen below. For a day without clouds, it was pretty spectacular.

    YOU could hate Donald Trump for these exclusive buildings. They are unaffordable for most, and they annoy people in neighboring apartments who lost their views because of them. But you could also thank him for Pier I, near West 70th Street. Costing more than $8 million, Pier I accompanies the Trump Place development and extends 850 feet into the water to give an expansive outlook up and down the Hudson amid the westerly wind. A view that's not quite as spectacular can be had at the 79th Street Boat Basin.

    The Sunset Tour given by Manhattan Kayak Company gets you even closer to the earth's curve. At 6:42 one recent evening, the sky was streaked with light blue and gray clouds; the sun was a ball, the color of a taxi. Slowly, it slunk lower, while a horsetail of white, pink and orange swiped the sky. The water was red, and the George Washington Bridge glittered in the distance.

    Amazing views of the sunset can also be seen from Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights. At the elevated terrace near the entrance, which overlooks the Hudson, elderly people and men in yarmulkes carrying books of scripture watch the orange ball from benches. Despite the whir of traffic from the nearby West Side Highway, the canopy of overhanging trees makes the scene deeply serene.

    Some New Yorkers swear by the sunsets visible from Battery Park. Others vote for the Brooklyn Heights Esplanade, or the foot of Coffey Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn, both of which offer a view of a glowing Statute of Liberty in the distance.

    In fact, there are so many nooks and corners that it could take a lifetime of attention to find the best places in the right weather. But it is possible. The sun sets every day.

  2. #2

    Default Sunset watching in NYC

    Sunset-watching from World Financial Center's North Cove Marina on 27 October 2002.

  3. #3

    Default Sunset watching in NYC

    A great sunset in Astoria Park, Queens:

  4. #4

    Default Sunset watching in NYC

    Sunset-watching near the gantry of the float bridge of New York Central Railroad at 69th Street, next to Trump Place. March 2002.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    NYC - Hoboken

    Default Sunset watching in NYC

    Thank you for the Astoria pics, makes me homesick for the area. *My new favorite place to see the sunset is at Perry West. *The best place is in front of the peir they are building directly in front. *Pull up a seat and watch the sun go down; trust me this is something you will not regret (best to take a loved one).

  6. #6


    Sunset over Hudson river. 2 September 2005.

  7. #7


    Top of the Rock - the observation deck atop the GE building. 29 October 2005.

  8. #8

    Default November 5, 2005

    View from Long Island Expressway in Queens

  9. #9


    Sunset watching from Staten Island Ferry, with Statue of Liberty.

  10. #10
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Glasgow, Scotland


    what time does the sunset at new year time? will it be same as dec1st ie 6.15

    as i goin next friday and would love to see bit of sunset action !!! also where bouts does it set ie hudson side or what !!!!!!

  11. #11


    Quote Originally Posted by scotslass
    what time does the sunset at new year time? will it be same as dec1st ie 6.15

    as i goin next friday and would love to see bit of sunset action !!! also where bouts does it set ie hudson side or what !!!!!!
    Sun will set about 4:20PM on January 1. I would advise you to watch from Battery Park. Get there no later than 4PM to enjoy the whole show.

  12. #12


    Quote Originally Posted by scotslass
    as i goin next friday and would love to see bit of sunset action !!!
    A great spot is the Brooklyn Bridge walkway, especially at this time of year.

    I took this in Nov 2004

  13. #13


    Focal length: 22mm
    Aperture: f/11
    Shutter: 1/250
    ISO: 200

  14. #14


    Waterfowl enjoying the sunset at the pier 32 pilefield.

  15. #15


    Sunset watching in NY Bay, on board a ferry from Fulton Landing in Brooklyn to Battery Park City.

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