The title says it all. I'd like to make a time-lapse video in New York City, but most buildings do not allow tripods. Does anyone know where I can use one 'from above'?

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    I can use it from above means that you are referring to a sky scraper? Jan 19, 2014 at 5:49
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    I don't know of any buildings. One idea might be to stay at a hotel in a sky scraper and take the time-lapse out your room window
    – Phil
    Jan 19, 2014 at 10:11
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    In case you or anyone is interested, I've added this as a good example of a "crossover question" of interest to two different Stack Exchange sites. See my ideas on meta. Jan 25, 2014 at 15:48

3 Answers 3


This may be better suited for photography.SE

Generally speaking your requirement of time lapse photography you will need a permit if you will be on city property and explanation of restrictions.

When it comes to private buildings access to using the observation deck or the roof is regulated by the building owner. Normally places with accessible observation decks forbid tripods without a special permit because they take too much space. There are blogs that make suggestions on what to do instead.

So the option you choose is up to you.


Ideally you'll want a place like Top of the Rock. However, they have a 'no tripod' policy, like Times Square and the Empire State Building.

HOWEVER, The Top of the Rock does allow you to take a tripod but without extending the legs - read this guy's experience doing this. So potentially you could try it and just extend them ever so slightly and get away with it.


How high do you need to be? Have you considered shooting from a higher street or bridge, such as the High Line, the bridge outside Grand Central Terminal, or one of the bridges like the Brooklyn Bridge?

Be sure to consider the security of your camera equipment when it's in one place for a long time, whether inside or outside a building. Don't take your eyes off it for a minute. This is one reason why the view from a hotel room may be a better option (but hard to arrange the exact floor and outlook, you might be at the back overlooking alleys!).

(update) However, setting up a full-size tripod on a sidewalk is only allowed if it's quite wide at that point (leaving at least 8 feet for pedestrians), and other rules, see NYC Filming rules (link from comment by @Karlson).

  • The view from a hotel room should be easy to arrange by booking the hotel room?
    – gerrit
    Jan 20, 2014 at 10:03
  • @gerrit, I meant that a hotel room with the right outlook is hard to arrange, especially in a busy/expensive city. Getting the exact room you want with the right view is partly luck (they may have none of the right rooms left). I've updated my answer to clarify this.
    – Rob Hoare
    Jan 20, 2014 at 18:37
  • Where on the Brooklyn Bridge would you set up the camera for the timelapse photos? Plus to the best of my recollection it's city property so to use a tripod for an extended period of time you need a permit.
    – Karlson
    Jan 23, 2014 at 12:32
  • Please see examples in: nyc.gov/html/film/downloads/pdf/moftb_permit_rules_QA_final.pdf. Fully extended tripod will take up about 4-5 feet at the base.
    – Karlson
    Jan 23, 2014 at 19:09

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