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A room with a (water) view

Want an apartment with a good view? Then one of the first things you’re probably expecting to see from the window is the Empire State Building. There’s no denying that a view of the iconic Manhattan skyline is one of the most sought-after treasures in NYC real estate, but it’s not always what you see when you look up that makes or breaks a good view. If you want to see some of the most eye-popping scenes in the city, look down.

That’s what you would do if, for example, you lived along the FDR or West Side Highway, where extensive views of the East and Hudson rivers are in high demand and come at a premium. It’s easy to forget in this city of skyscrapers that the water that surrounds New York can make a great view. Every borough has its own waterfront, and places along their shores are some of the best-selling properties in the city.

The East River is one of the components that make Richard Lawrence’s view from his Long Island City apartment so special.

“I have an unobstructed view of a park, a river, midtown and the sky,” said Lawrence, 59, who lives on Center Boulevard. “It’s like living in a work of art. I’m reminded of the Monet paintings that change with the season and time of day.”

And the funny thing is, it may be those who live in Manhattan who most wish they could live where Lawrence does: The most commanding water views in the city won’t be found in the busiest borough.

The reason?

“The water views from Brooklyn and Queens tend to be jaw-dropping and make people feel that they can sit in their living room and be a part of the New York City they have seen on TV and in the movies,” explained Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats. “Views from Manhattan tend to lack that dramatic, sweeping effect.”

Buildings near the waterfront in the outer boroughs also tend to be new luxury high-rises “with the latest and greatest in finishes and amenities,” Malin added.

But it’s not always easy to tell how much more an apartment with a water view is worth than other places, said Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers. It may be more important to some people than others.

“When appraising an apartment with a water view, the operative phrase is: ‘It depends,'” Miller said. “A view is subjective – it’s not like square footage or number of bedrooms.”

He pegged the value of apartments with a water view at somewhere between 10% and 30% higher than apartments without one. But, of course, there are views – and there are views.

“Unobstructed views are the most valuable – [and] that little gas station between you and the river can always be torn down and replaced by a condo,” he said.

Like everything, though, there is a price to getting a shot of the river, as Alan Rosen has found.

Rosen, 65, takes in the beauty of the East River and the Williamsburg Bridge from the window of his apartment off the FDR. But not so majestic is the noise from the highway, which he said gets “intense” at times. Major roadways line the shores of the five boroughs, and places that get a good view of the rivers are likely going to be in earshot of the traffic noise. Still, he said, the view is worth the disruption.

A water view didn’t top Matthew Mazur’s “must-haves” list when he was looking for a place on the Upper West Side. But the view of the Hudson River from his Riverside Drive pad has proved to be the thing that he and his wife most appreciate.

“My wife says that our view reminds her of the Bosporus Strait in [her native home of] Istanbul,” said Mazur, 36. “We love the traffic of the tug boats and barges and the constantly changing colors of the water and the sky.”

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