Little Italy

Getting Around

Getting around "mid-town Manhattan"

There are many ways to get around in New York City, such as taxis, buses, the subway, driving and walking. But no matter how you do it, it is good to have an idea of how the city is laid out, if for no other reason than to ensure that the taxi drivers don't try to rip you off.

But first, a recommendation

The best way to get from one place to another in New York is the subway. It is easy to navigate, fast, safe and cheap.

DO NOT take a pedi-cab! You can see them in many places and they will try to get you to take a ride, but it will cost you as much as $25.00 to go 20 blocks.

The taxis used to be a good deal but they have gotten too expensive also.

And even the carriage rides in and around Central Park are not worth the money. The best way to see Central Park is to take a walk through the park in the morning, with the grass fresh with morning dew and thin crowds. Much better than smelling the horse in front of you in a carriage.

The grid

Mid-town Manhattan is exactly what it says — the middle of Manhattan. The streets are laid out in a grid pattern which makes it easy to get around. The streets run east-west and the avenues run north-south. The streets are numbered from 1st Street in the south, with the numbers increasing as you go north. The avenues are numbered with 1st Avenue on the east side of Manhattan and increasing as you go west. Most of them are one-way, but a few, such as 42nd Street, are two-way streets.
You will see many New York City addresses listed as "West 47th Street" or "East 47th Street". 5th Avenue is the divider between east and west. Any addresses listed as "East ..." will be east of 5th avenue, and the "West ..." addresses are west of 5th Avenue.

The complication

They have complicated this somewhat, by inserting some avenues that are not numbered, like Lexington Avenue, Park Avenue and Madison Avenue, for example. Some of the avenues have a number and a name, such as 6th Avenue, which is also known as "The Avenue of the Americas".
And then there is Broadway. It runs mostly north-south, but it cuts across all of this on an angle.
Oh, and I haven't found an avenue labeled 4th Avenue. Between 3rd Avenue and 5th Avenue, there is Lexington Avenue, Park Avenue and Madison Avenue, but I do not know if one of these is also supposed to be 4th Avenue.

Not as bad as it sounds

With all of that said, they have made things easy by putting street signs at every intersection. The location of the signs, that is which corner at the intersection you can find the sign, varies from intersection to intersection, but it will be there somewhere. An avenue that has both a number and a name will have two signs at each intersection.
So, as long as you keep your orientation as to which way is north, you can get anywhere as long as you know the street and avenue at the nearest intersection.

An example

For example, lets suppose you want to go to a restaurant and you know it's on 51st Street between 6th and 7th avenues. You're standing at the intersection of 42nd street and 3rd Avenue and you are hungry. 51st Street is a higher number than 32nd Street, so you start walking north. Once you get to 51st Street, you turn left (west) and once you pass 6th Avenue, you start looking for the restaurant.

The rest of the city.

Below 1st Street is what is known as Lower Manhattan. This part of Manhattan is laid out more haphazard than what I explained above, so be sure to have a map if you are going to explore this part of the city.
Lower Manhattan is divided into several neighborhoods, many of which you have probably heard of. The main divider between Mid-town and Lower Manhattan is Houston Street. (This is pronounced like "HOUSE", not like the city of Houston.) The neighborhood just below this is called SoHo (SOuth of HOuston). SoHo is mainly on the west side of Manhattan. The east side here is called the Lower East Side. In between is Little Italy. Other neighborhoods below these are China Town and TriBeCa.
Above Houston Street on the west side is Greenwich Village, and on the east side is the East Village. Most of the rest of Manhattan has neighborhoods with names also, such as Chelsea, Gramercy, Stuyvesant and so on. Harlem and Spanish Harlem are further north, above Central Park. As you walk through all of these neighborhoods, you do not see any kind of separation between them. You will see more Chinese restaurants in China Town, for example, but otherwise you will not know when you pass from one neighborhood to another.

Google Maps

Google has added a nice feature to their maps of New York, and some other cities. When you enter information to get directions from one place to another, you have the option of getting driving directions, walking directions or public transit directions. When you do this, it tells you how to get to the subway entrance, which trains to take, and how to get to your destination from the subway exit.
This map shows how to get from Grand Central Terminal to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The google maps web site also provides text directions explaining how to get from one place to the other.
If you click on the - you will see it better, or click on View Larger Map to see it full size in google.

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Contents © Copyright 2001 Author: Lee Briggs except where noted. All rights reserved.