Finding your way Around New York

Finding your way around New York

Finding your way around New York can be difficult, at first, but once you understand the ‘grid system’ it’s a lot easier. In theory, it is very simple. Imagine a square block that is divided by lines horizontally and vertically. For easy orientation in New York you only need to remember a few rules of thumb about this and you soon will understand the New York road system much better.


Navigation in New York

Let’s start with the most important thing: the structure of Manhattan’s street map. Manhattan is divided into three main sections: Downtown, Midtown and Uptown. Downtown starts south of Union Square, Midtown is north of Union Square up to 59th Street and Uptown is everything north of the bottom of Central Park. This is useful to know when you ride the subway. The subway rides in two directions, either uptown (north) or downtown (south), so you will know immediately which direction of train you need to take.

Road system in New York

Manhattan is famous for its grid system, which divides Manhattan into streets and avenues. All the streets run from east to west and all the avenues run from north to south. Take Fifth Avenue as an example: It runs from Harlem in the north along Central Park until Washington Square Park in the south. 59th Street meanwhile runs below Central Park from west to east.

Keep in mind when finding your way around New York:

  • Broadway is an exception as the street cuts through the whole of Manhattan.
  • South of Houston Street (in Greenwich Village) the streets have names instead of numbers, for example, Lafayette Street.
  • Some of the avenues in the east side of Manhattan also have names, in addition to numbers, such as Madison Avenue.
  • In the Uptown area, the west side of Manhattan avenues are also named rather than numbered, such as Columbus Avenue.
  • In Harlem, both street names according to grid plan and an honorary name are used. 125th Street is also known as Dr Martin Luther King Boulevard.
  • Addresses in Brooklyn and Queens run differently.

Building Numbers in New York

Fifth Avenue splits Manhattan into the east and west side. Therefore, nearly all streets in Manhattan have a western and eastern part for address location. Due to this, you will also find an address with “200 East 45th Street”. Numbers grow from Fifth Avenue both towards east and west. On the east side, addresses say east or E and on the west side, addresses read west or W.

Navigating through Cross Streets in New York

As Manhattan is huge and you won’t immediately know with an address where it is actually located there is some helpful addition to an address. To make life easier, usually, the closest cross street or street corner is used in the address. For example 45 Essex Street (between Grand Street and Hester Street).  Always tell the taxi driver your address using the cross street or street corner, for example, “42nd Street and 9th Avenue”.

Eric’s Tip: Download my free app, Eric’s New York, so you can easily find your way around New York and orientation is made really easy. In the app, you can find a map of the city which includes subway lines, attractions, public toilets, and free wifi hotspots. The app can be used offline and has built-in GPS, so you can always see where you are. Plus, you have your own Manhattan map always at hand.

How do you call the streets in New York?

New York City has streets as well as avenues, these either are numbered or have names.

Which street goes straight through Manhattan?

There are several long streets that cross Manhattan, for example, Broadway or Fifth Avenue.

What is the name of the most famous street in New York?

There are a lot of famous streets in New York - of course, everyone knows Broadway, Wall Street or Madison Avenue. Read above more about the peculiarities of some New York streets.

What is the center of New York?

Midtown is the heart of Manhattan and the home of Times Square.

How many streets are there in New York?

There are more than 214 numbered streets in New York City, and of course, there are several more streets that have names as well as avenues.

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