13.7 Getting around New York City

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New York City is built on a grid system, making it perhaps one of the easiest of the American cities to quickly navigate. Here is a quick guide to Manhattan, the centre of New York, which is an Island.

Streets are numbered, and are laid out east to west, or river to river-the East and Hudson Rivers, respectively. Avenues are laid out north to south, and cross the city’s streets.

Uptown-Downtown-Midtown. In the relative meaning, ‘Uptown’ means anything north of your current location and up to Inwood Hill Park. ‘Downtown’ means anything south of your current location and down to the Financial District. If you happen to be on 23rd street and you’re trying to get back to the UN headquarters on 42nd street, then you are downtown, and the UN is uptown. Midtown refers to NYC’s main business district, roughly between 34th St & 59th St (where the main concentration of skyscrapers and offices are).

The East to West configuration is easy to navigate, as well. Consider Fifth Avenue the dividing line between the eastern and western halves of the city. East 42nd street, which is where the UN is located, is on First Avenue. If you happen to be on 42nd street at 6th Avenue, then you know that you have to walk at least six blocks towards the East River along 42nd street to reach the UN. Avenues can be very long and last for miles. Be prepared to walk or take a bus.

The ‘Upper West Side’ is the Hudson River side of Central Park and the ‘Lower East Side’ is on the East River side that includes the East Village.