Manhattan is the most densely populated Burrough in New York; the narrow island is home to over 1.6 million people and most of the tallest buildings in the city. There are many distinct neighbourhoods here – including Chinatown, Hell’s Kitchen and Harlem – and the most popular place for tourists is centered around Midtown. Roughly located south of Central Park and north of Union Square / 14th Street, this is where the majority of the city’s tourist attractions are located. It is New York’s other downtown.
You will find most of the iconic places in this cluster of the city; everything from the Empire State Building to Times Square and Broadway are located here. This part of town is a buzz of activity and is the place to visit if your a tourist in New York. We had spent the first two days mostly exploring the other Burroughs, but since this was Norma’s first trip to the city, we had to visit the epicenter of the city. Over 360,000 pedestrians (both tourists and locals) visit here every day – which means an estimated 131 million people a year – making it the most visited place on the planet.
We began our day by climbing up the Empire State Building, and took in the incredible views from above. After we returned to street level, it was time to take Norma to the “Center of the Universe”; the sensory overload that is Times Square.
We walked along Broadway approaching from the south, and you slowly start to see the billboards from a distance. It is something you have seen depicted in movies, and seen pictures of in pop culture, but nothing really prepares you for what a 360-degree experience this is. Times Square takes up 5 city blocks, from 42nd to 47th street, so it’s a pretty overwhelming place to be. It’s a buzz of activity and hard to capture in a single sentence or fit into the frame of a single picture. Times Square is everywhere.
We tried not to linger here too long as it was noisy and crowded. It was just something we wanted to see on our trek through the city. Today was a walking day, and after being bombarded by Broadway and Times Square, we moved on to something a little bit more peaceful. We continued walking north, passing the famous Ed Sullivan theatre and eventually entered Central Park via the south-west corner at the Columbus Circle. Talk about traveling from one extreme to the next.
It was a Saturday and the sun was shining, so there were lots of locals and tourists enjoying the park. Many of the fields were closed in order to let the new seeds grow, so we were forced to stay on the trails, but fortunately there are many of these. We spent almost two hours in the park, eventually finding the Mall and walking out towards 5th Avenue. This is where many of the most posh and fancy stores are located, from Sacs to Tiffany’s. We weren’t overly interested in this aspect of the city, so we moved on from here pretty quickly. We went inside the magnificent St Patrick’s cathedral and visited the ice rink at the Rockefeller Center before heading to Grand Central Terminal to catch a subway into Queens.
We came back the next day as well, to visit the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) and spent some time exploring more of Midtown. After our museum visit, we traveled south towards Washington Square Park so we could wander through SoHo, Chinatown and into the Lower East Side. We really just began to scratch the surface, but we know we will be back soon. Since we were visiting friends, we didn’t spend every moment sightseeing or taking pictures, which meant we got to do a lot of local things too.
We only had 4 days to explore New York, and we managed to pack a lot into a short time. We had such a good time here, and we’re already starting to plan our return trip to the city. Until then, enjoy some of our best pictures from around Manhattan.