Your Best (and Worst) Spots to Watch Fourth of July Fireworks

Written by NYPress on . Posted in Lifestyle, News Our Town, News Our Town Downtown, NY Press Exclusive, Our Town, Our Town Downtown.


Macy’s Ignite the Night returns to dazzle New Yorkers with its famous display

I’ve never been one for backyard fireworks.

I remember all those Independence Days as a kid where my friends would whip out some sparklers, a lighter, and a twinkle in their eye, only for us to act out that scene from Hot Rod and stare at a flickering dud until we lost interest (Language rules restrict me from linking to it on YouTube, where I searched “Hot Rod fireworks” and clicked the third one down). But it didn’t take many major disappointments for me to realize the iridescent box of colors in which the sparklers were contained was an empty promise. I quickly gave up the practice.

“Oh, you bought $400 of Roman Candles? Good idea.”

Macy's Fireworks 2010 - photo by Barry Yanowitz

I guess I was spoiled as a kid, though. Instead of wasting our money on some overpriced birthday candles, my family decided to invest in the Disney Vacation Club– a timeshare, similarly overpriced, that pretty much locks up your vacation destination for the next four decades. Since I was five months old, I’ve not gone on a family vacation outside of Orlando. I used to be like this, now I feel like Charlie bit me. Not until I rebelled and went to college all the way in Tampa did I explore other parts of Florida.

(Now we have a house in Celebration, FL, about 30 seconds from Disney World, and I’ve fallen back into that funky Floridian pattern. Help.)

The reason I have no interest in those sparklers, though, is because Disney does do one thing right, and that thing is fireworks. Music synchronization, laser shows and spherical TV screens fashioned to look like a globe accompany the wonderfully choreographed fireworks, and I make sure to catch at least one show every time I go. Heck, I was just there two weeks ago, staring up at the sky with twinkles in my eyes (literally) and getting my ears blasted by incessant explosions.

Perhaps the only fireworks show that I’ve seen that rivals Disney’s expertise, though, is Macy’s Ignite the Night Independence Day fireworks. And fortunately for us, they’re in two days.

Assuming you aren’t blind –not really sure what you’re doing here if you are– the only flaw to a great fireworks show is an obstructed view. So, fortunately for you, fair reader, I have compiled a list of optimum viewing areas (anywhere with a clear view of the Hudson) for this year’s 36th annual Ignite the Night in hopes of sparing you from a strictly-audible fireworks show on Wednesday, which is not nearly as fun.

The barges that set off the fireworks float along the Hudson, between 18th and43rd St, and this means that any of the following spots are a good spots:

-        The West Side Highway, of course – anywhere on the water along the highway is probably the best place to be. There will be plenty of fellow viewers, and everyone will be watching together

-        Riverside Park – host of Hudson Warehouse’s wonderful Shakespearean plays, the park has plenty of great seats and views of the skies. Some of the walls get pretty high off the ground, though, so I wouldn’t recommend making them impromptu seating

-       Hoboken- Except for some really cool, shape-specific versions, fireworks are, for the most part, enjoyable from all angles, so Hoboken is just as good a spot as any

-        Pier 84

-        You can purchase access to the U.S.S. Intrepid for an Independence Day party and a perfect spot to see the show

-        A friend’s place. Obviously the best, least hectic, and most comfortable. If you don’t have one in the neighborhood, it might be worth making one, even if only to use them for their view.

Bad spots:

According to the Macy’s website, East River Park, Battery Park, Battery Park City, and all piers except 84 are not viewing spots for the fireworks show, so, of course, avoid those.

I recommend checking out the official website, as Macy’s provides a ton of information regarding the event. They’ve even gone as far as creating a Macy’s Fireworks App, which purports to make your viewing as seamless as possible.

I’m thinking I’ll be at Riverside Park.

–Nick Gallinelli

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