Tower Lights - Ray Dwyer

Next Tower Lights and Flag Display:
Monday July 4, 2016
Independence Day

I have been photographing the George Washington Bridge since I was a teenager. My first photograph of the bridge was taken with my 35mm rangefinder film camera.  This engineering marvel is just a few miles away from my childhood home. 

Many have photographed the GWB over the years.  There are some outstanding photographs posted on social media websites such as Facebook, Instagram, 500px and Flickr.  Those images should inspire all of us to strive to capture our own masterpiece. 

A little history of the bridge...

The George Washington Bridge (GWB) spans over the Hudson River and connects Fort Lee, New Jersey to Upper Manhattan.  Construction began in 1927, and the completed bridge opened to vehicle traffic four years later in 1931.  The estimated cost of the bridge construction was $75,000,000. When the bridge first opened it was a single deck bridge, though the second lower level was anticipated in the original design. 

The bridge was first known as the Hudson River Bridge before being named after George Washington just prior to its official opening. 

The lower deck, or lower level as it is now known, opened in 1962, increasing its capacity by 75%.  The GWB is the busiest bridge in the world - seeing over 106,000,000 vehicles each year.

The GWB was designated a National Historic Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers in October 1981.

Special Days for Photographing the GWB

Beginning in 2006, the GWB flies the world's larges free-flying American flag from the western tower on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, President's Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day.  The flag is also flown each year on September 11th. On its website, the PANYNJ has published a George Washington Bridge Facts page. The schedule for the lighting of the of the GWB tower lights is provided on the page as well.  To view the page click the link here.

The necklace lights are typically white, though the Port Authority has occasionally changed the light colors for special occasions.  In April the necklace lights are blue for Autism Awareness Month and the lights turn pink in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Locations for Photographing the GWB

From the beginning photographer, to the most experienced professional, viewing and photographing the structure of the bridge standing tall above the river has been a favorite destination for many years.

There are several good locations for capturing the beauty of the bridge.  Views from both the New Jersey side and the New York side are sure to capture the imagination of every photographer.  I hope this page is useful for those considering a visit to the GWB.   

Please note that this page is currently highlighting viewing locations on the New Jersey side of the bridge. I will be posting some New York locations soon. 

Fort Lee Historical Park - Fort Lee, New Jersey

At the north-east corner of Fort Lee Historical Park, a lookout provides an elevated close-up view of the George Washington Bridge.  The viewing point is on the south side of the GWB. This is perhaps the most popular viewing location on the New Jersey side of the bridge. 

Just about anytime you visit this lookout, you are sure to find other photographers and visitors capturing their own images of the bridge. 

When visiting the lookout, you should resist the temptation to jump over the safety railing. This is not only unsafe, but it can land you a hefty fine and possibly a required court appearance.

Access to the lookout is from the park entrance on Hudson Terrace in Fort Lee.  Visitors should plan around the park hours, which are from sunrise to sunset on any given day.  The Palisades Interstate Police usually lock the park entrance gate just after sunset.  That said, you should be aware that night time photographs from this location may be difficult, or even impossible on some nights.  

There is also an admission fee to access the park between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year.  The minimal fee varies between weekdays and weekends.

Ross Dock - Fort Lee, New Jersey

Ross Dock is located along the Hudson River on the north side of the George Washington Bridge.  It offers spectacular views of the bridges span over the river from a lower vantage point. 

A boat launch just to the north of the picnic area offers additionally unique views of the GWB. Automotive traffic to the boat launch is restricted to vehicles with boat trailers, so you will have to walk to the boat launch if you wish to check out this vantage point.  An easy, flat walk along a paved roadway will take you about 10 to 15 minutes from the picnic area to the boat launch area.  Signage in the park will guide you to this destination. 

The park is open during daylight hours and is accessible on the north side from the entrance ramp at the eastern end of East Palisade Avenue in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey and from the south side at an entrance gate on Hudson Terrance in Fort Lee.  The Fort Lee entrance is the shortest of the two entry points.  As you drive, bicycle or walk along Henry Hudson Drive - the approach road - you will pass directly under the GWB about mid-way on your way to Ross Dock. 

This location - like Fort Lee Historical Park is typically closed after sunset.  It is important to remind everyone - if you see a locked gate, don't go around it.  Tickets have been issued to those in the park after hours and after the gates are closed. 

Like Fort Lee Historical Park, there is also an admission fee to access the park between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year.  The minimal fee varies between weekdays and weekends.

Palisades Interstate Park - Fort Lee, New Jersey

Another interesting and lesser known vantage point to view the GWB is from Palisades Interstate Park, located on the north side of the bridge.  This park typically presents more pleasing bridge viewing during the winter months when the trees have lost their foliage. 

Trails within the park lead to several lookout points above the Hudson River.

Just as with the railings in Fort Lee Historical Park, you should resist the temptation to jump over the safety railing. This is not only unsafe, but it can land you a hefty fine and possibly a required court appearance.

This park is accessible from a stairway on Hudson Terrace just past the GWB underpass, or from a walkway located at the north-eastern end of the park at the north end of Central Road in Fort Lee.  The Hudson Terrace stairway leads up to the GWB walkway to the right, or the park entrance straight ahead of you at the top of the stairs. 

Veterans Park - Edgewater, New Jersey

Travelling south along Hudson Terrace from Fort Lee the roadway will merge into River Road in Edgewater.  About a mile down the road you'll approach a traffic light at the intersection of Glenwood Avenue.  Veterans Park is located to the east, just off Glenwood Avenue.  

Following a paved walkway around a baseball field on the north side of the park, the path will take you around the park at the edge of the Hudson River.  From the walkway by the river is where you'll witness some great views of the full span of the GWB spanning over the river. 

Rockefeller Lookout - Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

I found this viewpoint last year while traveling along the Palisades Interstate Parkway.  This lookout provided an elevated view of the GWB from the north with a breathtaking view of the lower Manhattan skyline.  The Empire State Building is standing almost dead center of the GWB from this viewing location, which adds to the dramatic impact of a bridge view from this location.

Access to the Rockefeller Lookout is from the northbound side of the Palisades Interstate Parkway.  The lookout is about 3 miles north of the GWB.

While there is no railing at this lookout, the limits of the walkway are clearly defined by a rock wall.  Stay on the western side of the wall.  If you are found on the other side of the wall, you'll be sure to receive an expensive fine that you just might have to sell a few lenses to cover the cost of the penalties. 

Closing Thoughts...

Safety First. All of the locations recommended here are well patrolled by the authorities, however you should always be aware of your surroundings.  Some of these places get quite dark in the evening hours - you'll need a flashlight just to find your way back to your car. Always respect the posted restrictions and park hours for each location, and NEVER jump over a safety railing.  The GWB is a sight to be seen.  Be safe and enjoy your visits.

A much deserved "thank you"...

I would like to extend a sincere "thank you" to my contacts at the Palisades Interstate Park Commission and the Palisades Interstate Police Department for their assistance in providing me with some of the information that is presented here.  They are professionals and are tasked with keeping everyone that visits the parks safe.  Please always follow the rules and show every one of these officers the respect they deserve.  

The Shameless Pitch...

This page is intended to help the reader capture their own spectacular bridge photograph. Should you be interested in any of my photographs - prints of all my photographs presented on this page and throughout this site are available for purchase.   To see more of my George Washington Bridge photographs, click here.  Thank you for reading my blog. 

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