Gantry Plaza State Park
Long Island City, Queens, NYC
Gantry Plaza State Park on the East River bank in Long Island City, NY offers an expansive view of the eastern side of Manhattan. Compared to other spots where one may take postcard pictures of the New York City skyline, it is also probably the easiest to get to -- it is just one subway stop away from Grand Central.

Gantry Plaza on what locals call Hunter’s Point was created in 1998 to take advantage of the dramatic view. The once derelict riverbank festooned with abandoned factories, rotting wharves, and graffitied cranes was transformed into a modern park attraction complete with high-rise condominiums.

During the height of the American railroad, Hunter’s Point was a hub for transporting goods. Cranes hoisted rail cars from barges on the river and placed on land which then continued their journey on the Long Island Railroad. Pepsi Cola’s bottling plant with the big Pepsi Cola sign was also nearby.

After the decline of the railroad -- brought about by the switch from coal (which was transported from Pennsylvania mines by rail) to oil (which was imported from the Middle East) as energy source, the growing popularity of automobiles, and the efficiency of highways -- factories and cranes at Hunter’s Point came into disuse. By the 70s, the waterfront was abandoned.

At around the same time, artists were being driven out of SoHo in downtown Manhattan by the rising cost of rent. They congealed at Hunter’s point where rent was cheap, “loft space handy, and proximity to Manhattan excellent”. (source: New York Magazine) Since then, Long Island City “has among the highest concentration of art galleries” in New York City. (source:

Then, realizing that the artists were sitting on a goldmine, developers came and built Gantry Plaza State Park.

If you are ever in New York City and absolutely have to have a souvenir picture of its skyline, visit Gantry Plaza State Park. You’ll find it very modern and mixed with curious relics -- the hulking cranes and the cursive Pepsi Cola sign are restored -- from another time. And the stunning view -- one of astounding human achievement -- is something you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

Click on a picture to enlarge.
Midtown Manhattan skyline seen from Gantry Plaza State Park.
Stargazing deck chairs and high-rise condominiums at Gantry Plaza State Park.
Gantry from which the plaza got its name.
The Pepsi sign was dismantled in 2008 and relocated to make room for the park. The Pepsi bottling plant was closed in 1999. In the distance is the 59th Street Bridge.
Manhattan through the gantry.
It was once unthinkable to dip your toes in the polluted East River. Today, the wildlife is back.
Long Island City (with Gantry Plaza State Park at the waterfront) seen from Manhattan (at the 37th Street Esplanade).
Sunrise at Long Island City.
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