When and Where to Capture the Empire State Building Lit Up Blue for Columbia Grads

The night of April 30, the Empire State Building will glow blue and white for Commencement. Here’s where to capture the best photos with it.

April 21, 2021

It’s a Columbia Commencement tradition not to be missed: On the night of April 30, from sunset until 2:00 a.m. (EDT), the top of New York’s iconic Empire State Building will light up blue and white in honor of Columbia’s graduates. 

But where best to capture photos of and with the Empire State building? We asked the expert: University Photographer Eileen Barroso, who has been taking pictures of Columbia grads with the building for years and years. 

And don’t forget! If you aren’t able to get out and about to take your Empire State Building pictures, you can always observe the celebration of our grads on the Empire State Building Live Stream.

Here are five great spots to take your photos the night of Commencement:

34th Street and 7th Avenue

A group of friends poses at 34th Street and 7th Avenue with the Empire State Building.

36th Street and 5th Avenue

A Columbia grad poses with friends and family at 36th street in front of the Empire State Building.

Weehawken, NJ Boulevard East

The New York City skyline as seen from New Jersey with the Empire State Building lit blue.

Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center

The Empire State Building from above in a light blue sky.

26th Street and 5th Avenue

A gaggle of graduates pose near Flatiron with the Empire State Building.

The Empire State Building image ® is a registered trademark of ESRT Empire State Building, L.L.C. and is used with permission.

Looking for more photo opportunities ahead of Commencement? Don't forget to sign up for your spot on the Grad Walk and download your virtual grad kit

Before you go, don't forget to check out these other stories in preparation for Commencement 2021: