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|A New York City Walking Tour of the Neighborhoods Around Grand Central Terminal Travel Articles | February 24 , 2008
Manhattan consists of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct character.? The Grand Central Terminal area is no exception.
Visitors to New York check out the main attractions, like Times Square, the Statute of Liberty, Rockefeller Plaza and Broadway, but there's so much more to experience in Manhattan!? Manhattan is made up of neighborhoods, each with its own identity and culture and excitement.? Explore Manhattan by walking -- you can take the subway or a cab to the area, but be sure to walk once you're there, so pack your comfortable walking shoes!
The Grand Central Station area is a perfect example.? To begin with everyone must experience the cavernous Grand Central train station with its 2-story windows on each side and gigantic domed ceiling, complete with drawings of star maps.? Don't hesitate to look up, but be prepared to dodge the scurrying workers busy on their errands -- time is of the essence for them -- and they'll walk right over you!? If you have the time, check out the lower level which has a number of restaurants and oh, so cool, deep leather chairs in the center, and, of course, the famous Oyster Bar.? The Oyster Bar has the best seafood in the area, but the attraction is the ambiance:? tiled walls and a high ceiling, and the feeling of eating in a restaurant eons ago in an old-fashioned train station.
Grand Central Station, which is found at 42nd Street and Park Avenue, is home to both subways and the commuter railroad, MetroNorth, which goes "upstate" to Westchester and Connecticut.? But did you know that Grand Central sits right in the middle of Park Avenue?? Park Avenue has a narrow, go-around elevated street that circumvents the Station, but the wide Avenue itself stops at 46th Street and begins again at 42nd Street.? Can't tell you how many times a bewildered tourist stopped me and asked what happened to Park Avenue and how do I get to Park and 50th Street?
Ok, here's your exploring-Manhattan exercise:? Go up the escalators from the Station.? Here you're in the walkway through the 200 Park Avenue building and continue walking uptown.? (There's no north, nor any directions in Manhattan; there's only uptown and downtown and toward the Hudson River or the East River.)? From 200 Park Avenue go across the street to 230 Park Avenue and continue through the building in the Art Deco tunnels and walking out again into the wide and bright main thoroughfare of Park Avenue.? This is a busy business section of Manhattan -- watch out for the taxis and the black Town Car radio cars!? They move to turn no matter if people are in the crosswalk; but it's just a game to them, and act like a New Yorker and continue walking, and they always give way to you.? (I've not been hit once in 30 years!)
Then double back into Grand Central.? Find the downtown entrance from Grand Central (from the open area go to your left and follow the corridor downtown).? Here you'll face Park Avenue South which goes toward Greenwich Village.? Across 42nd Street is a restaurant, and Park Avenue is on either side.? A couple of blocks downtown from Grand Central is the Murray Hill area, a quaint and elegant neighborhood -- reminiscent of areas of London.? There are stately townhouses (brownstones in Manhattan parlance) alongside apartment buildings.? You might be a block or two from the commercial areas of Manhattan but you feel far removed!
East of Grand Central, "toward the East River" for natives, brings you to the UN area, with many newly-constructed apartment buildings, and a consulate here and there.? But, on your walking tour, be sure to check out Tudor City which is downtown from 42nd Street between First and Second (that's First Avenue, but NYers never add the Avenue).? Tudor City is a collection of brick apartment buildings built 2 stories above the street.? It's an enclave all to its own, with wrought iron fences setting it off from the rest of the busy Manhattan world.? Walk around and feel as if you've stepped into a different time era!
Walk up First [Avenue] to 50th Street, and there's a whole new unique neighborhood.? Here, you'll find the Sutton Place neighborhood, and you can feel the wealth of times past.? There's a lot of building being done here and razing of the older buildings, but the old upper-class, moneyed elite air still remains, with an art deco building here and there.? And intermixed here and there are the 5th floor walk-ups -- how do any of these tenants walk up with bags of groceries??
And, if your feet allow, walk down 53rd Street toward Third [Avenue] and enter into the Citicorp Atrium to chill out.? There's a number of food choices, both fast food and sit down, and you just might be lucky enough to be there when live piano music echoes from the multi-story open area.? Here you are, two blocks from Sutton Place, and you're back into the commercial area and the 21st Century.? Leave on the Lexington side, walk a block to Park [Avenue].? Face downtown and walk back to Grand Central toward the 230 Park building at the end of the Avenue, savorying the bustle of NY's commercial area, and just imagine if the people you pass are lawyers, bankers or into real estate.? If you're lucky enough to be there in December, enjoy the chill in the air and anticipate the Christmas spirit with the holiday lights brightening Park Avenue.
Explore Manhattan by foot and experience the excitement of current times and ages past!
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