Despite all the excellent transportation options, New Yorkers – take charge lot that they are – prefer to get around on their own two feet. Walking is free from traffic snarls, train service delays, and, after all, have you seen what happens around here on any given block? Who’d want to miss any of the action?
While the canyons of buildings and sidewalks dense with people may feel enormous, Manhattan is only 13.4 miles long and 2.3 miles wide. It was established on a grid system, so there is a logical pattern, but you’ll want to set out with a detailed street map. Manhattan is bordered by the Hudson River to the West, East River to the east and the three blanket divisions are Uptown (north of 59th St.), Midtown and Lower Manhattan (below 14th St.). Avenues run North and South starting at 12th Street on the west side with Fifth Avenue as the center point. Streets run east and west and begin at 1st Street in the East Village.
While the surface area seems manageable, each neighborhood is its own unique world where you can easily lose yourself in for a good part of the day. Uptown strolls include historic Harlem and the Upper East and Upper West side for museums and access to Central Park. If catching a Broadway show, explore Times Square and Hell’s Kitchen in Midtown, and drop in on galleries and restaurants in Chelsea. Lower Manhattan is packed with enclaves rich for exploration. Expect to get lost in the confusing (but entertaining) maze of little streets in the West Village, shop in SoHo (South of Houston) and TriBeCa (Triangle Below Canal St.), and head to the East Village and gritty Lower East Side, home to cafes and neighborhood dive bars. Down at the tip you’ll discover the South Street Seaport, Battery Park City and the Financial District. From here you can amble over the Brooklyn Bridge suspended above the East River and cross into Brooklyn.
New Yorkers don’t walk so much as they seem to hustle down streets. You don’t have to adopt this pace, but do follow the flow of traffic on the sidewalks and step aside if you need to check your map. Wear comfortable shoes, and stay alert – if you turn down a street that doesn’t feel safe, trust your instincts and find a more heavily traveled block.