Skip to main content

10 Short Walks from Columbus Circle

For uptown residents, especially on the West Side, Columbus Circle serves as an entry point into "the city." A trip on the A train from uptown at 207th Street to W. 59th Street, from bucolic "Upstate Manhattan" to the busy metropolis, takes about 30 minutes, a fairly convenient commute even by New York standards. The area near W. 59th St. and Central Park West features some of New York's most posh stops and restaurants (Per Se and Jean-Georges are here, for example), but beyond the glitter, everyday shopping happens here, too. 

The best parts about living in New York, such as proximity to great centers of arts and music, are within easy walking distance of Columbus Circle. In addition, the southwest corner of Central Park is an excellent starting point for a walk in any season, convenient to the Heckscher Playground to the north and the Sheep Meadow beyond, and to the Hallett Nature Sanctuary and the Pond to the east. 

For a quick roundup of many NYC attractions, explore the streets in and around Columbus Circle. Walk south on Broadway and later to the north (or vice versa), with side trips along the way.  

The images below correspond to a walk on a recent late afternoon. The walk concludes at dusk.   

1. Ed Sullivan Theater, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, 1697 Broadway between W. 53rd and W. 54th.


A quick glance down Broadway from Columbus Circle indicates the proximity of "Broadway," and all that entails. From Columbus Circle, it's just a quick walk to the theater. Here, late in the afternoon, a line gathers for a taping of the show.

2. 6 1/2 Ave., between W. 51st and W. 55th St.


The "avenue" between Sixth and Seventh Avenues consists of a series of pedestrian arcades that run north and south between W. 51st and W. 55th St. The walkways make getting around this area fun and easy. This arcade near the City Center is getting a makeover.

3. New York City Center,  131 W. 55th St.



A well-known venue for the performing arts, especially dance, the building on W. 55th St. is quite photogenic with its fanciful Moorish design. I've always admired the marquee lighting here. City Center was originally erected in 1923 as a meeting place for the Shriners.  

4. Carnegie Hall, 881 Seventh Ave.


The world-renowned concert hall built in 1891, while handsome and serious on the outside, is best enjoyed inside. Website

5. W. 57th Street

Once a vibrant corridor of culture, W. 57th St. has recently lost some of its cultural capital. Rizzoli Books moved to the Flatiron District, and the Steinway Company showroom has closed, with plans to relocate to the first floor of the old International Center for Photography spot near Bryant Park. The Art Students League (215 W. 57th St.) is still here, and its galleries are open to the public.
6. Central Park South, 59th St. between 8th Ave and 5th Ave.


The southern section of Central Park makes a great place for a rugged romp through the woods, especially since The Plaza is so nearby. Still beautiful, of course. (Unfortunately, a few monstrously tall skyscraper residences, now under construction nearby, threaten to cast menacing shadows over the graceful landscape.) 

7. Museum of Arts and Design, 2 Columbus Circle


The museum produces innovative design exhibitions and also serves as home to the respected restaurant, Robert, offering wonderful views of Central Park. Museum website

8. Columbus Circle


The rotary, with its monument dedicated to Christopher Columbus, serves as one of the city's main gathering points. Read about the planning for this roundabout and its innovation in traffic safety.  

9. Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle


The Shops at Time Warner include a range of stores from the affordable to the pricey. I always stop in the Moleskine kiosk for gift notebooks and for my go-to weekly planner. The Williams-Sonoma store on the first floor is an excellent spot to get in the mood for holiday cooking. Many New Yorkers head straight downstairs to buy groceries at Whole Foods. I've seen many visitors there also, looking puzzled at our anxious behavior in the check-out line.   

10. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza.


Is there not something wonderful about Lincoln Center Plaza at night? No matter how many times one visits? I also highly recommend a backstage tour. Website

Many worthy stops were left off this walk, just for the sake of brevity. You are most welcome to discover them yourself.

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from November 20, 2015.










Popular posts from this blog

A New York Spring Calendar: Blooming Times and Seasonal Events

See the UPDATED 2018 CALENDAR HERE . Updated for 2017 . At this time of year, thoughts turn to spring. Let's spring forward to blooming times, the best locations for witnessing spring's beginnings, and springtime events in the big city. While the occasional snow could blow through the city, we're just weeks now from callery pears in bloom and opening day at the ballpark. In The Ramble, Central Park. mid-April Blooming Times •  Central Park Conservancy's website  lists blooming times within the park. During the month of March we begin to see crocus, daffodils, forsythia, snowdrops, witch-hazel, and hellebores. Species tulips will emerge in several places, but the Shakespeare Garden and Conservatory Garden are particularly good places to catch the beginning of Spring blooms. Central Park near E. 72nd St., saucer magnolia, typically end of March. •  Citywide Blooming Calendar from New York City Department of Parks & Recreation April is u

Traversing Manhattan: An Afternoon Trip to the Battery and Back Again

  Wherein the vaccinated sightseer from Northern Manhattan travels to the southern end of the island by means of the express bus, the MTA subway, and the NYC ferry, with a little sauntering on foot In Battery Park, during the first blushes of spring in New York. View of One World Trade Center Residents of the far north and far south of Manhattan are the ones most keenly aware that they live on an island. The north end of the borough tapers to a relatively small area of land, bounded by the confluence of the Harlem and Hudson Rivers and the waters of Spuyten Duyvil. The land is hilly and green, with an old growth forest. The Battery sits on the southern end, a land where the geography is defined by the meeting of the East River, the Hudson River, and the vast New York Harbor. Manhattan stretches a little over 13 miles on the long side and just 2.3, more or less, at its width. On 42nd Street, approaching Grand Central Terminal. A resident of the hilly northern terrain may sometimes long

The Lonesome Metropolis: A Walk from Grand Central Terminal to Rockefeller Center

As New York City reopens, why do the attractions of the great metropolis still look mostly deserted on a summer morning? A morning walk from Grand Central Terminal to Rockefeller Center sought to address this question. As it turns out, there are several adequate explanations. But for what happens next, there are no right answers. Grand Central Terminal, 9:40 am. Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Many neighborhoods outside of tourist New York are still buzzing along. While some residents of wealthier neighborhoods have largely decamped to mountain cabins, beach houses, and other second homes, the less wealthy have nowhere to go and may still be working. Just visit Washington Heights or Corona or Flatbush, and you’ll see sidewalks full of shoppers and summer evening street partiers. Those who fled the city remain only a fraction of the total population.   Grand Central Terminal, 9:40 am. Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Other renowned parts of the city such as City Hall and Brooklyn Bridge have been fr

Visiting New York City Again on the First Day of Spring

  The first weekend of spring in New York City coincided with bright and pleasing weather. Blue skies and Blue Jays, Bald Eagles and brightened crowds greeted the new season, at least in my world. It may be a cliché to say something like “Hope is in the air,” but contrast this spring of 2021 with the one a year ago, the new mood is palpable. Last year during early spring, the city shut down, in caution and crisis, but this season feels like a resurrection, albeit still cautious. The Met Steps on Fifth Avenue Last spring, when many of the city’s residents feared going outside, many are at least partially vaccinated now. The numbers rise every day. I have been fully vaccinated for a month now, so I used the occasion to revisit New York City. I have been out and about in my neighborhood, but in terms of the public New York City, the one celebrated in tourist books and on this website, I have not ventured there much at all.  A Bald Eagle grasps a fish in its talons outside the Met Cloister

Early Voting in Washington Heights, and A Walk

Early voting for the 2020 federal election in New York began on Saturday, October 24 and continues through Sunday, November 1. The weekend was overcast and autumnal, with the bright yellows of fall on display. In New York City, thousands of New Yorkers turned out at the 88 early voting locations and waited in long lines, many stretching around the block.  A line to vote in Washington Heights. The line stretched around the block multiple times. Madison Square Garden in Manhattan and the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn were two of the well-known sites, but most voting places were typical neighborhood places such as schools, churches, and hospitals.   The scene outside the entrance to the Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion, one of the early voting locations in Washington Heights. In Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan, two early voting locations were within a short walk of one another, causing some confusion for voters emerging from the 168th Street subway station. The Columbia Universit

North Towards Autumn: A Day Trip on the Metro-North Hudson Line

The peak of autumn colors in New York City tends to fall sometime in the days following Halloween, but those anxiously waiting leaf change can simply travel north.  Near Beacon, a view of autumn colors from the Metro-North Hudson line One way to speed the fall season is to take the Hudson line of Metro-North north of the city and watch the greens fade to oranges and yellows and the occasional burst of red.  Autumn light in Hastings-on-Hudson Weekends during the month of October are ideal times to make the trip. The air tends to be crisp with bright blue skies, and the Hudson River glimmers like a mirror in the light of autumn. As the Hudson line hugs the river for much of the distance north, the train ride alone provides plenty of opportunities for sightseeing. Try to grab a window seat on the river side of the train car for views of the Palisades and the bends of the Hudson Highlands later in the trip.   Autumn leaves on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail in Hastings Still, October is a gr

Walking on Snow

❄ ❄ ❄ ❄ For the better part of this new year, snow has been either on the ground or in the forecast. In the city landscape, the streets look enchanting for a day or so and then devolve into a dirty mess. This sort of snow is unappealing for an invigorating walk. A snowy path in Inwood Hill Park The forest, on the other hand, has managed to stay enchanting throughout each bout of winter weather. The presence of owls and hawks, bright red cardinals and sweet chickadees, and brown squirrels and black squirrels transform the woodlands into a fairy tale. An Eastern Screech-Owl at home in the winter forest I've spent much of the whole pandemic year, going back to March 2020, in the woods of Inwood Hill Park in Northern Manhattan. While I have been accustomed to walking through the park in spring, summer, and autumn, I've never managed to engage with the deepest parts of the forest when a lot of snow was on the ground. Last winter there wasn't much snow anyway. Eastern Screech-Owl

The Most Beautiful Bridge in the World

Swiss-born architect Le Corbusier (1887 - 1965), the leading proponent of the International Style of modern architecture, visited NYC on several occasions in the 1930s and 1940s, and he made much to say about the skyscraper city. He didn’t think much of the faux tops of the tall buildings nor did he care about the haphazard city planning, but he did fall madly in love with one particular bridge:  "The George Washington Bridge over the Hudson is the most beautiful bridge in the world. Made of cables and steel beams, it gleams in the sky like a reversed arch. It is blessed. It is the only seat of grace in the disordered city. It is painted an aluminum color and, between water and sky, you see nothing but the bent cord supported by two steel towers. When your car moves up the ramp the two towers rise so high that it brings you happiness; their structure is so pure, so resolute, so regular that here, finally, steel architecture seems to laugh. The car reaches an unexpectedly wide apr

A Morning Walk from Penn Station to Times Square

Penn Station to Times Square New York City entered a new phase of the reopening on Monday, but you would never know it from a morning walk in Midtown on the day after.  At 34th Street and 8th Avenue, an outsize reminder of the public health crisis from Montefiore Medical Center After running an errand near Penn Station, I decided to take a walk up to Times Square and Broadway before heading home from 59th Street and Columbus Circle.  34th Street looking east toward the Empire State Building I wasn’t altogether prepared for the sights and sounds of this time and this place. Like many other New Yorkers, I have rarely left my neighborhood for the past four months.  8th Avenue at W. 38th Street After exiting a quiet Penn Station near 8th Avenue and W. 33rd Street at what would normally be the end of rush hour, I found myself suddenly dropped into a city (mostly) bereft of crowds.  A few commuters near Port Authority and The New York Times building, 8th Avenue and W. 40th Street Yet, I had

Circling the Met: A Springtime Visit to Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art

For a double feature of art and nature, the Metropolitan Museum of Art happens to be conveniently situated in Central Park. The front of the museum faces Fifth Avenue, its monumental wings stretching the blocks between E. 80th and E. 84th. The sides and the back of the museum are within easy walking distance of several prominent landmarks within the park.  Cedar Hill in Central Park Before a visit to the Met, consider taking a walk around the museum beginning on the southern side. A walk in the park can serve as a good preparation for a museum visit, because looking at or noticing the shapes and colors of the built and natural environment can enhance the art experience. Cedar Hill in Central Park The path south of the 79 Street Transverse leads to a scene at Cedar Hill very much like a panorama, with a vast wide-angle expanse of green grass and hill. Take the first path that leads back over 79th Street to the southern side of the museum. This path brilliantly disguises the motor traffi