I'm with the Columbia Space Initiative at Columbia University, on the upper east side of Manhattan. We had to drive a couple hours upstate when we launched - FAA regulations prevent launching over a populated area (or in this case, an extremely densely populated area) as well as launching near an airport (NYC is near three). We're too close to the coast anyways, so the winds usually push most predictions out into the Atlantic.
Flying over NYC to take photos sounds fun, but logistically it seems impossible (from the research we've done, anyways). However, if you can get a flight path about an hour upstate, you might still be close enough to catch a glimpse of NYC from 80k ft. I'm not sure, I haven't run the math on that one.
This is our first year participating in gsbc, keep in touch!