Skip to main content

Walking Directions for NYC

Tips for Seeing New York on Foot

Walking in New York can be immensely pleasurable, but it sometimes helps to review some of the prominent features of our urban geography before setting out. Tips for walking in the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn are included here.

The pace of walking varies from person to person, but from my own experience, it takes about 30 minutes to walk a mile in New York, accounting for stop lights and quick window browsing.

Manhattan

• Walking 20 streets uptown or downtown in Midtown generally covers a distance of approximately one mile. Doing the math means that walking 10 streets generally measures a 1/2 mile. Walking from W. 33rd St. north to W. 53rd Street along 8th Avenue, for example, a distance of 20 blocks, measures one mile.

• Walking the long crosstown streets, especially on the west side, is another matter and seems endless in comparison to walking uptown or downtown. Walking three longer blocks crosstown equals about .5 miles. 6 crosstown blocks in Midtown along the avenues = 1 mile. The important exceptions are the distances between the avenues on the east side: 5th Avenue, Madison Avenue, Park Avenue, Lexington Avenue, and 3rd Avenue. These are shorter.

Let's look at this map. Look familiar? It's the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade route, a distance of about 2.67 miles. By looking at the map, it's easy to visualize the streets flying by while walking uptown or downtown along the avenues. Even when not on a float and waving to people, this is a pleasant walk.


View An Unofficial Guide to Macy's Parade Route in a larger map


Greenwich Village is Complicated

But none of these measurements will help with measuring distances in the off-grid circular world of Greenwich Village and in other older areas of Manhattan. When you arrive at the corner of W. 4th St and W. 13th, it gets confusing.

The corner of W. 4th and W. 13th
• Village Directions Quiz: OK, let's say you're sitting on a park bench in First Park at the corner of E. 1st St. and 1st Avenue, and then someone calls you on the phone and says they want to meet you in an hour at the Chelsea Market. Well, that's not exactly close.

The market is on the west side near 9th Avenue and W. 15th Street, and it's going to take some thought about how to get there. You could take the subway - the F to W. 4th and then transfer to a C to 14th Street, but it's a nice day for a walk. You'll tell the person that you will be there. Quiz: How to get there?

Two answers:

1. Walk in a zigzag pattern from 1st and 1st to 2nd Avenue and 2nd Street, then up to 3rd Street and over to the Bowery, and then up to E 4th and Lafayette, and so forth. That's fun, but...


View A Zigzag Walk from the East Village to Chelsea in a larger map

2. The most efficient way, however, is to take Bleecker Street. Look at the map and notice how the southern end of Bleecker begins at the Bowery just north of Houston. Bleecker curves west-northward, and then around 6th Avenue, it turns north by northwest. When Bleecker ends at Abingdon Square Park, take Hudson Street the rest of the way. At 14th St., the street flows into 9th Avenue. The way Bleecker makes this abrupt curve north explains why people get lost in Greenwich Village. W. 4th Street makes the same parallel curve, so that's why. Understanding how these two streets work goes far in helping to not get lost in the Village.

Broadway is the famous street that runs the length of Manhattan, so apologies to those visitors who become confused when confronted with either West Broadway or East Broadway. West Broadway, parallel to Broadway on the west side, runs through tony sections of lower Manhattan below Washington Square Park and is lined with art galleries, boutiques, and several fine restaurants. For fun, we've decided to name the northern stretch as LaGuardia Place. East Broadway, fortunately to the east of "real" Broadway on on the Lower East Side, stretches from a confluence of streets (Bowery, Worth, Park Row, and more) on the west to Grand Street on the east.

Central Park is about 6 miles around the perimeter, but it's more fun to walk through it and not around it. Walking the length of the park is fairly easy - about 2. 5 miles plus extra roaming yards. Walking across is easy, about a half mile.

Brooklyn


• Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is highly encouraged. The walk is sweeping, majestic, full of wonderment. The bridge links City Hall in Manhattan with Cadman Plaza Park in Brooklyn. On the Brooklyn side, the end of the bridge provides easy access to Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).


View Brooklyn Walking Directions (examples) in a larger map

• Many Manhattanites become disoriented when they travel to BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) for a performance. They emerge from one of the nearby subway stations and spend a couple of minutes or longer trying to understand where they are. It's hilarious to watch! First, it's important to distinguish BAM's two main theaters - the BAM Harvey and the Peter Jay Sharp Building. Both are close to one another in the Fort Greene neighborhood, but BAM Harvey is on Fulton Street and the Peter Jay Sharp Building (Howard Gilman Opera House) is on Lafayette Avenue.

Fulton Street Mall, just to the west of BAM Harvey, links Borough Hall to Fort Greene. In fact, walking from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade to BAM Harvey is a little over a mile. A nice walk! (Similarly, a mile walk from the southern Heights neighborhood known as Willowtown to Fort Greene Park makes a fine stroll through leafy streets.)


MAPS

Making plans in the city? Armchair traveling? Here are a few of Walking Off the Big Apple's customized Google maps to help you get started.

25 Great Things to Do in New York

View 25 Great Things to Do in New York in a larger map

Central Park West

View Central Park West in a larger map

Midtown: Favorite Stops for the Holidays


Lower Manhattan: Public Art


Brooklyn: A Walk in Brooklyn Heights











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

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

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

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

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

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

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