Nov 9, 2011

10 Short Walks from Grand Central Terminal

(revised June 2012) Famously crowded Grand Central Terminal functions as a major crossroads for the city, hosting busy commuters as they come and go from the suburbs via the Metro-North Railroad or within the city via a few subway lines, but the terminal also happens to be a good place to launch short walks. With its south side fronting E. 42nd Street and its massive structure interrupting Park Avenue, Grand Central provides quick access to many of the city's most well-known attractions.

Grand Central Terminal
In Grand Central Terminal

The New York Public Library and Bryant Park are only a couple of blocks away from the terminal, a quick jaunt on 42nd Street. And from there, Times Square is just another block or two farther west of the library, its neon shimmering in the distance. One wonders, standing near the intersection of 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, how many souls have been lured away from their well-meaning library studies by the beckoning lights of the Theatre District.

Grand Central Terminal: Before setting out on walks, the terminal itself is worthy of exploration. This heavenly Beaux-Arts style palace of transit, constructed from 1903 to 1913 and successfuly restored in 1998, features grand staircases, chandeliers, a soaring ceiling vault painted in cerulean blue and decorated with a zodiac. The terminal encompasses many shops, fine restaurants such as the Oyster Bar, the sumptuous Campbell Apartment for cocktails, a downstairs dining concourse (essentially a food mall), and Grand Central Market, a gourmet food emporium that is a popular destination for commuters.

Oh, yes, one more thing. Visit the new Apple flagship store in Grand Central Terminal, the largest of it kind in the world.

10 Short Walks from Grand Central Terminal

The following walks from the terminal conclude at another destination worth exploring. If visitors are in town, tell them to go to Grand Central and pass along this list of nearby things to do. The walks includes suggested routes, many of them straightforward.


View Short Walks from Grand Central Terminal in a larger map


1. New York Public Library and Bryant Park, between 40th and 42nd Streets, 5th Avenue to 6th Avenue. The renovated main branch of the NYPL at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street features special exhibitions, an excellent library shop, and the extraordinary sight of people reading amidst the visual splendor in the Reading Room. Multifaceted Bryant Park is one of the most versatile public spaces in the city, adapting its programming to the changing seasons. (see more at the post, Reading for Pleasure.)

Bryant Park in late spring

2. International Center of Photography. 1133 Sixth Avenue. Who doesn't take photographs? Visit the ICP for exhibitions of inspiring photography and the center's shop for fascinating photography-related gifts.

3. The News Building, 220 E. 42nd St. The Art Deco building designed by Raymond Hood is most famous for the comic book-like world globe in its lobby. Clark Kent all the way.

4. United Nations Headquarters. 1st Avenue near E. 44th St. Take a tour of the General Assembly while taking in uncommon views of the East River.

5. Morgan Library & Museum. 225 Madison Avenue. Drawings and manuscripts are the strengths of the museum's collection, but be sure to visit the recently restored McKim Building to bask in the treasures of J.P.'s sumptuous Citizen Kane-like library and study.

6. MoMA at 11 W. 53rd St. serves as its own busy hub, with exhibitions, a renowned gift shop, places to eat, a packed film schedule, and an inspiring sculpture garden.

MoMA Sculpture Garden
MoMA's sculpture garden in autumn colors

7. Rockefeller Center, Saks Fifth Avenue, St. Patrick's Cathedral. 5th Avenue between 49th and 51st Streets. The trifecta - a landmark destination for its architecture and NBC studio tours, a famous 5th Avenue department store, and the city's most prominent Catholic church, all neighbors.

8. Waldorf Astoria. 301 Park Avenue. Even if you're not staying overnight, a walk through the hotel smells like money, as F. Scott Fitzgerald would say, and old New York affluence. (Also, start at the Yale Club next to Grand Central Terminal and walk to Penn Station. You'll follow Nick Carraway's walk from The Great Gatsby.) A walk north of the Waldorf to The Plaza Hotel at 59th and 5th is a good way to extend the adventure.

9. Greenacre Park. E. 51st Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. Hideo Sasaki's masterpiece of a pocket park features a 25-foot waterfall that washes away city stress.

The pedestrian friendly Times Square


10. Times Square. intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue (hard to miss). A walk west from Grand Central eventually leads to this other important crossroad of the city. If people watching is a favorite activity, this one's for you. Now pedestrian friendly.

See Grand Central Terminal's website for food, shops, events, history, and more.

Related:

Short Walks to NYC Attractions from the Port Authority.
From Penn Station to New York Landmarks: Measuring Walking Time and Distance in Manhattan.

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple.

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