Walking, New York City
New York is a big city and there will be many times when you need to take to public transport to get from one place to the next, whether subway, bus or taxi. But please do try to explore as much as you can on foot. There are many aspects to this wonderful city that just can’t be appreciated any other way! The deep canyons created by the towering skyscrapers of Midtown; the quaint cobbled streets in parts of Greenwich Village and the other historic districts; the smells from the cafes and various food vendors; the displays in shop windows, both big department stores and neighbourhood corner shops; the amusing signs and colourful neons; and perhaps most of all the people. I confess I loved eavesdropping on other people’s conversations as we walked – snippets like “of course you have a dog, this is New York” brought the city to life for me.
Working out your route is relatively easy, thanks to the helpful grid pattern of the streets in most of Manhattan (see my General tip). But don’t expect to get from A to B too quickly. Depending on the time of day there will be many other people walking the same streets (it might be helpful for them as well as you if you try to avoid the rush-hour as much as possible) and there are also numerous distractions to slow your progress – but then, that’s the point! There really is no better way to experience the buzz that is New York.
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!!
I'm a big fan of exploring by foot, but NYC is a large city and not as walkable friendly as many other cities. There are just way too many people out and about and too much ground to cover. But if you take the time and have a well thought out plan you can discover lovely parts of the city on foot. Some of my favorite are LES, Chinatown, Village, Chelsea, NOLITA, Midtown, UWS, UES just to name a few. There are so many quaint little shops, bars, restaurants you'll miss if you use public transport.
NOTE: Noooooooo....don't do it!! Ladies, please don't wear those "tacky" little flip-flops, cross-trainers (especially white), and those horrid flats to walk around a fashionable city like New York City (or any other city, especially Paris), no matter how tempted you are!! It's just not trendy or stylish!!! (Okay, the jeweled-toned flats are cute).
So grab your most sylish comfy shoes and get out there and explore!!
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.
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,....
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.
Coming from Chicago where 8 blocks=mile, I initially misjudged the distance between my destinations. Approximately 20 north-south blocks=mile (eg 20th to 40th Street) and 10 east-west blocks=mile.
Once you get above Greenwich Village, Manhattan is laid out in a grid (like Chicago), with numbered streets running east-west and numbered avenues running north-south. The avenues are a little trickier than streets, Lexington, Park and Madison are tossed in between 3rd and 5th Avenue and some develop names around Central Park.
I found the attached website that tries to explain the numbering system, the top part of it seems much too complicated for the average visitor, if you are looking for an address, get the cross street and you should be fine.
Walking has to be my favorite way to get around this city. You can see the simple little changes as you move through neighborhoods. Find places you weren't looking for but are glad you found. Even a closer or better alternative to whereever you were going.
And for people watching being on the streets is the place to be.
Just be courtious. Stay to the right if you're meandering or walking and gawking. Tourists are great and help the city. But please remember we are late for work in have places to go.
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.
The Borough of Brooklyn, which is home to a population of 2,300,000 people, is the most populous of the five boroughs. Brooklyn was founded by the Dutch, who originally named the borough Breukelen, or broken land, in 1636. Some of the neighborhoods and historic landmarks in Brooklyn include Bay Ridge, which is populated largely by Italians and Irish. Sunset Park is largely Latin American and Chinese. Bedford-Stuyvesant is home to the largest African-American community in New York, and Williamsburg has the largest population Hasidic Jews. The Greenpoint neighborhood, the furthest north, is home to large Polish, German, Ukranian, and Russian populations.
While Brooklyn is home to some of the most diverse neighborhoods in New York City, it also contains some of the most treasured historic sites. Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, is still an active Army base. It was here that Confederate Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee served as young officers in the 1830's. The Lief Erikson Parkway, near 67 Street, is named for the Viking navigator who is believed to have reached North America 500 years before Columbus.
Although the NY Yellow cabs are easy to track down and cheap to dash around the city we really enjoyed walking. The first few days of our holiday was speant mainly on foot exploring NY , giving us a real feel of the place. The main advantages are that you can stop and pop into any shop or cafe and take time out. We covered so much ground on foot and you find out things ans see things that may pass you by if you were in a cab. All i will say is take some blister plasters! Plus you can walk off those excess pounds you ate at breakfast!
New York is a city to walk.
Yes, we tried the subway, cabs, the train and the bus, but we loved walking the most.
You see so much more when walking and get a much better idea of the neighbourhood and community this way.
This is a city with swarms of people, so we tried to make sure we pounded the pavements (sidewalk!) when it was not rush hour.
You also do not get the full effect of how tall the buildings are without walking... you just wish by in transport.
Getting around New York is easy. I think it's quite interesting and great to just take a walk around the city.New york is a very easy place to stay. Street names are very systematic and within 3 hours you can easily find your way.Just remember to grab a map and remember which street you start your walk.
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