Walking, New York City
Fancy a free walking tour? Well every Thursday at 12.30pm meeting at the Empire State Building 5th Avenue entrance, you can take advantage of this walk exploring around 34th Street.
The walk is organised by the 34th Street Partnership.
When travelling around New York your feet are a good way so you can take in more of the atmosphere and the general feel of the place. You can appreciate the different buildings and get a better sense of direction. We walked down Broadway from Union Square to Battery Park at 7:00am in our breakfast hunt, which was very strange. Not many people about surprisingly, although the odd office worker here and there would say hello as they passed.
NYC has a big personality but, comparatively, the city is a reasonable size.
You can walk from Downtown (Wall Street) to Times Square in a couple of hours, depending on how many times you stop to see all the true NYC sites you will only be able to see walking. :)
That being said, the Subways are dirty but efficient if you want to get to a specific area then walk around it. They're also pretty safe (use common sense obviously but...)
Bring Purell and use it - you won't look silly. A LOT of people use it.
If you read my tips from travels throughout the world, you will see a common theme: walk as often as possible to see the local people, architecture, food, etc. New York City is certainly no exception. Manhattan is very walkable within the main sightseeing areas. You will have to jump in a cab or take a subway train occasionally to move from one neighborhood to another, but once there, give your legs a workout. You'll be glad you did!
The best to experience New York is of course walking. Since Manhattan is pretty big, you can't walk all of it, so the best option is take the subway to the area you want to explore and continue on foot afterwards.
My favourite walking spot was on 5th Avenue: lots of people, lots of shops, ... this was the New York I knew from TV.
But of course NY is so much more than just this part, have a look at my must see's to discover other areas like Greenwich Village, Harlem, The Bronx,....
Here is a tip for all the newcomers getting around the city...walking -- NOTE: walking AVENUE to AVENUE are loooong blocks; walking STREET to STREET are short blocks. So if you don't mind walking to your destinations, go for it. It's good exercise and more than likely you might run into an interesting shop, cafe, gallery, etc. you wouldn't have seen if not walking. Some areas, such as Broadway - 42nd Street, all have convenient places to browse and shop. Get your comfy shoes on.
It was a beautiful spring day and we strolled through Central Park, enjoying the tranquility and the squirrels.
Feeling a little parched we grabbed an outside table by the lake at the Boathouse.
Whilst relaxing with a glass of wine a gondola went by.....
Hmmmm.......how much wine had we drank!!
How many times have I called information, gotten the address, and said quickly, "wait can you tell me the cross street ---" Click.
Here's a simple way to figure it out yourself. Just gotta be able to do simple math:
Take the number of the Avenue Building, drop the last digit, divide the remaining number by 2, and add or subtract the number below. That's the Cross Street.
Av. A, B, C, D: add 3
1st. & 2nd. Av: add 3
3rd Ave: Add 10
4th Ave: add 8
up to 200 add 13
up to 400 add 16
up to 600 add 18
up to 775 add 20
775 to 1286 drop last figure and deduct 18
Up to 1500 add 45
up to 2000 add 24
6th Ave: deduct 12
7th Ave: add 12 (Above 110th St. Add 20)
8th Ave: add 9
9th Ave: add 13
10th Ave: add 14
11th Ave: add 15
Amsterdam Ave: add 59
754-858 deduct 29
858-958 deduct 25
above 100th St. deduct 30
CPW: divide house # by 10 and add 60
Columbus Ave: add 60
Lenox Ave: add 110
Lexington Ave: add 22
Madison Ave: add 27
Manhattan Ave: add 100
Park Ave: add 35
Park Ave. South: add 8
Pleasant Av: add 101
St. Nicholas Av.: add 110
RSD: divide house number by 10 and add 72 up to 165th St.
West End Avenue: add 60
Get your metrocard. Its a pass that you swipe like a credit card on the subway, bus system.
It is priceless to just jump on and off the public transportation system.
The subway system was really ok to use. It was not bad at all. The rumors are exaggerated.
It is clean enough. And the tile mosiacs on the walls at each stop are really worth the trips on the system.
I was originally going to avoid the subway system but it is just so fast and convienient.
The subways and buses both run every 5-10 minutes. So don't worry about waiting.
And if you really want to there are hundreds of taxis all over the streets.
One of the great mysteries is, if so few New Yorkers have cars, how come there's so much traffic?
It can be intimidating for a first-time visitor to cross streets like a native. Just keep in mind that we've got years of practice. The natives are easy to spot... we're the ones who stand three lanes into traffic before the light changes.
Warning to newcomers -- I'm sure you're from some gentle place where pedestrians have the right of way, and cars actually stop for them. That's not New York. You've got to stay alert, and remember that lots of people here only consider a traffic light to be a "suggestion." Look both ways, even on a one-way street, or you're likely to be plowed down by a racing bicycle messenger.
You'll be relieved to hear that you've still got plenty of time after the Don't Walk sign starts flashing.
Walking in Manhattan :
-If you study the map you'll notice the rectangular grid pattern starts north of Houston St; to the south, the pattern becomes more and more random.
-Streets run east-west and are numbered going up as you head north, Avenues run north-south, their numbering starts in the east, with the exception of avenues A to D in the East Village.
-Sixth Ave = Avenue of the Americas.
-Broadway also runs north-south, but it's twisting so it's not always between the same 2 avenue numbers.
-East of Fifth Avenue : there's no Fourth Ave except for a short distance south of Union Square (14th St). Between 3rd and 5th there are 3 avenues in midtown : Park Avenue, flanked by Madison Ave and Lexington Ave. Don't worry, this will sink in.
Plan your walking routes : know where you'll start and end on the map + the avenues / streets you'll be crossing. It's hard to get lost that way, but when in doubt don't hesitate to ask directions - New Yorkers just love showing off how well they know the city. It's a thing called pride I guess :)
When you're in an area where the street pattern is between random and grid, like in Greenwich Village, you may notice things like 12th St crossing West 4th St. Huh ? This alone is a reason not to venture out there without a map - you need to plan the route, or you'll lose precious time.
DON'T stop in the middle of the sidewalk all of a sudden to pull out your 3'x5' map. Other than blatantly giving yourself away as a tourist, people will inevitably bump into you. Remember, this is a fast paced city so you should at least try to 'go with the flow", especially during rush hours. Step aside if you need to look something up, or you'll just annoy everyone.
Safety : pay attention to see if no car is nearing from a corner behind you as you cross the street, and when in doubt make eye contact with the driver. Most accidents in Manhattan involve people getting hit by cars / taxi's. I've seen it happen and it's never pretty.
Plan ahead, pay attention and you'll be fine.
Most places are in walking distance in Manhattan, and to be fair, it's quicker than getting a cab! What you've seen on TV is true! Taxi's are backed up all through NY, cut each other up and constant horn blaring...and yet they move at snail pace because of the amount of traffic. It is statistically quicker to roller blade or walk round than get a cab!
A great way to get around the city is just simply walking! Many things will be within walking distance from where you will stay. Obviously, if you're on the Upper West Side and trying to get to the financial district, it may not be the best idea, but if you're trying to go about 10 city blocks, walking is a great alternative to waiting for a bus or cab or subway.
Walking is another good option in Manhattan, streets are easy, they are numbered with the lowest numbers in the south counting up to the north. And the avenues which go from north to south have letters, and often aslo a name (Park Avenue, Avenue of the Americas, etc.)
20 uptown/downtown blocks and 10 crosstown blocks equal approximately one mile.
Manhattan total area in square miles: 22.7.
Manhattan length: 13.4 miles [21.5 km] long.
Manhattan widest point: 2.3 miles [3.7 km].
Manhattan narrowest point: 0.8 miles [1.3 km] at narrowest point.
And if you want free transport without walking, take the ferry to Staten Island and enjoy the amazing view of the skyline and the statue of liberty.
Walking is definitely the cheapest (sometimes fastest) and best way to explore Manhattan. Make sure you wear your most comfortable shoes. however during the week (9-5 rat race) I have seen women walking FAST in heels! Amazing! Watch out for the potholes, almost twisted my ankle.
During the summer, lots of women wear the cheap chinese slippers found in Chinatown, flip flops and platform rubber slippers...anything goes, as long as you don't get blisters!
When taking pictures of skyscrapers, don't do in the middle of the street, move to the corner or near street sign. People need to get to work!
There are 'lanes' on the street too...try not to walk TOO slow.
Try to walk single file line, 3 or more across is being selfish on the sidewalk.
There are no buttons on the stop lights, when there are no cars, it is okay to cross the street...just make sure you don't dawdle in the crosswalk, a cab or car might hit you.
During the day you can see people reading morning paper while walking!
At night there saxaphone players, bums playing the 'drums' etc...anything goes which is what makes it unique and interesting. Never a dull moment...