Everyone’s eyes were trained on a patch of horizon between two other iconic skyscrapers — the MetLife Building and the Chrysler Building.
Finally, the sun rose and the eclipse was visible — if a little hazily — through the cloud cover.
“You could hear the entire audience react at the first viewing of the sun,” said Jean-Yves Ghazi, president of the Empire State Building Observatory. “Everybody was gasping and it was absolutely magical.”
In the Summit One Vanderbilt observatory in Midtown, nearly 1,400 feet up, Katherine Troche of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York and some friends watched the first 20 minutes of the eclipse before a thick fleet of clouds overtook the sky.
“Then the oohs and ahhs turned into ‘Aww, mans,” she said.
But in the opinion of Ms. Troche, who lives in Elmhurst, Queens, her group caught the best part of the eclipse: the devil’s horns effect. When the red horns appeared in the sky, some of her fellow eclipse-watchers yelled in wonder and excitement.
While some went vertical in Manhattan, others left the city in the hopes of getting a better view.
Mike Kentrianakis, a lifelong eclipse chaser, watched the eclipse in Greece, N.Y. There he saw the two horns of the eclipse rise above Lake Ontario like a double sunrise.
“It was brilliant, like a molten lava caldron above the deep blue ripply waves,” said Mr. Kentrianakis, who was too excited to sleep the night before. He said the sky seemed to make the birds go berserk, flying wildly across the sky.
He kept his eyes glued to his camera screen for the entire eclipse, pausing only once to give two eclipse glasses to a pair of people he noticed watching the sky through their fingers.