Endless Nights Under The NYC Lights
Welcome back to another one of my photo journals! The who includes: My homies Joe: @Sportynice11, Christian: @Tremulant, and Emil: @emltbll. If you are unfamiliar, I suggest you check out their Instagram accounts. What was I doing there? Well, it’s been 3 years since the last time I visited NYC so I figured I was overdue. As for the why, it should be mentioned that 70 Pine, and the iconic abandoned City Hall Station were huge reasons for the trip, more on those later.. With the particulars out of the way lets get this going.
In September I arrived at La Guardia around 11:30pm and it all started. After landing, I hit up Christian (He’s from Vegas but was spending the month out in NYC) and set plans to meet up later. I took a cab to Brooklyn to my Air B&B that never ended up happening but in retrospect, it was all for the best. After waiting around for awhile I decided to start walking towards the Manhattan Bridge where we planned on meeting. After dodging and hiding from workers cleaning the road directly below us, we arrived at the top. I wanna note this was the first suspension bridge I’ve climbed on the East Coast. I was ecstatic. After getting some long exposures we decided the only option was to wait another hour for sunrise. We hid down below until the time was right. We popped out the hatch to see a pretty cloudless sunrise. The first of many cloudless sunrises/sunsets during my visit. We got some shots quick then I decided to climb 1 of the 4 balls on the top before we made a very quick get away.
We got down, walked back to Brooklyn to get some coffee and went our separate ways with plans to meet up later. I decided to head back into Manhattan to get some sleep in Washington Square Park. On the way back over the bridge I saw a guy shooting and struck up a conversation. We ended up walking to the well known 9th St Path Station to shoot the stairs. He is a world traveler and his name is Mike: @Mike7_Photography. After which we parted ways and I ended up in W.S.P for that nap I was looking for. A couple hours later I woke and went on a hunt for spiral stair cases. After exhausting some resources and not coming up with much, I decided to consulted Google.
After wrapping up at Barney’s I decided to head to Times Square to see if a roof I was on 3 years prior was still open. To my delight, it was. Years earlier we got chased out before I got any photos so I always felt some type of way about not getting anything from it. It was pretty bright still but on the cusp of sunset so I decided to get down and come back 30 mins later. The outcome was moodier, plus a cloudless sunset.
After getting down to street level and watching the spectacle that is Times Square, I met back up with Christian and was introduced to Emil. We got some $1 slices and decided to hit another roof near by. After shooting the popular vantage point we decided to try and get higher up (the lights/roof go up another maybe 60-80ft). To our knowledge, it hasn’t been done by local photogs, which had extra appeal. If i’m wrong, my bad… I just haven’t seen any of the heavy hitters posting it. I’m sure glad we figured it out because it was one of my favorite roofs of the whole trip.
The next day was pretty chill, I walked around Brooklyn and waited for Joe to fly in from KC where we met up at our Air B&B in Bushwick. After getting some food we took the train to Times square and hit a roof to kill some time till Christian came to meet up.
Now with Christian, we hit the spot I had done the day before, but this time we went all the way to the top and hung out till it started raining. One dollar slices followed and we decided that since it was raining, the subway was our only option. Up until this point, it was uncharted territory for us all. Despite every single person we asked about the legendary City Hall Station telling us it was too hot we decided to go for it anyways. We had a rough idea of where it was and after some patient lingering around in one of the stations, we dropped onto the tracks and made a run for it. Between trains we hid, and planned our next move. It has to be mentioned that the NYC system is probably one of the dirtiest places I’ve ever been.. However, you can’t help but feel some type of way about the historical significance of dirt that’s over a century old, in one of the most epic displays of human ingenuity found anywhere in the world. It was such a rush to finally find the platform and climb up to a location that I’ve wanted to visit for at least 5 years. Not more than a minute after arriving a train came around the corner. It also has to be mentioned that I’m extremely grateful to have the quality camera and lens that I have. The below photo with the train was shot at 8k ISO, and hand held at 1/13, f/4.
The following day after a couple hours sleep, Joe and I woke up and went to take in some touristy vibes through China Town, and Little Italy before taking the train up to Times Square/Central park to scope a huge white crane next to Columbus Circle. Not long after we found ourselves inside the site and navigating our way up to the cat walk that connects the crane and the building. It’s noteworthy that Kendrick Lamar was playing a show in Central park and we got to hear the whole thing while in the construction site. With that said, and it being a Saturday night there were at least 6 helicopters flying around the Times square/Central park area. As much as we wanted to climb the crane to the tip of the boom, our best judgements got the better of us and we decided to play it smart. Regardless, it was still victory in our eyes and I have no regrets.
With this being my last night in NYC we decided to keep going hard. We took the train south to the Williamsburg Bridge. We got to the access point and realized there were already some young kids coming down. They said they couldn’t figure out how to do it and after they saw us go for it, they left quickly as to not create a commotion. I doubt those kids will ever read this but thank you for your etiquette. We made it to the highest point we could and were up there for a few minutes. We spotted a 3 wheel police car drive up to where we gained access. The police car had it’s cherries on, then slowly reversed about 50 yards back and turned all of it's lights off. That spooked us and we made an insanely hasty exit. Easily the sketchiest of my 10+ years exploring. We decided that crossing over the entire bridge on the beams (the beams are several stories above lanes of rushing traffic) to the other side of the pedestrian path would give us the greatest distance from the police. After getting down we walked past the car, and to our surprise they took no notice. I did escape with 1 hand held 5k iso photo, so I guess that just means maybe someday I’ll have to go back.
With adrenaline pumping we decided that there was only one thing left to do, and one of the main reasons I made the trip to NYC… I will admit we had help from a friend via IG DM. After doing everything we had to do, we made it to the penthouse and up into the actual spire where we camped out. With alarms set, we got a few hours of sleep before climbing through the hatch. I’m all for hitting spots solo, but for me, sharing an experience of this magnitude (950ft above the heart of New York’s Financial District,) the culmination of everything Joe and I have done together in NYC, and Chicago… It will forever be a truly unparalleled experience.
I want to thank you for reading along, or just looking at the photos. Until next time!