Walking Across Manhattan Along 42nd Street – New York City Trip

I started my walk at the UN Headquarters

Last month I was lucky enough to be able to visit New York with my wife. It had been 14 years since I last set foot in the city and some things had definitely changed. As always I’m firm believer that you have to walk a city to know a city.

And so over the 5 days we were there we did a fair bit of walking. Here are some photos from my walk across Manhattan along 42nd street.

As you can see above, I started the walk on the eastern side of Manhattan right next to the United Nations Headquarters. I have to say that given the extremely sunny weather the building looked much nicer in person than it normally does in pictures.

The Chrysler Building
The Chrysler Building, very difficult to photograph up close

Next up were the Daily News Building and the Chrysler Building. Trying to photograph these two Art-Deco skyscrapers really brought home how much taller everything is in New York compared to London. It also clearly marked me out as a tourist as most New Yorkers don’t bother to look up.

However, the highlight of the walk had to be the following:

This photo doesn't even begin to do Grand Central justice
This photo doesn’t even begin to do Grand Central justice

At 100 years old this year, Grand Central Terminal – as it’s officially known – still has more platforms than any other station in the world with 44 (more than twice the number at Waterloo).

While both Toronto’s Union Station and Grand Central were built in the Beaux-Arts style, they couldn’t be more different.

Grand Central is right at the heart of New York and it makes you want to linger, a feat which is extremely rare among railway terminals. It’s bright, airy and open – again something most stations in the world aren’t. Beyond that it’s the feeling you get from being there that you can’t put into words.

Moreover, it’s also something of an anachronism in a country so dominated by the car that a rail station can still play such a vital role in the life of a city.

Although I could easily have spent more time wandering around the station, I also wanted to continue on with my walk. The great thing about cities like London or New York is you generally don’t have to walk very far to find something interesting. Sure enough I soon came across:

The New York Public Library main building
The New York Public Library main building with the iconic yellow cabs in front

The main New York Public Library building was built two years before Grand Central, and just as Grand Central is one of the most impressive train stations in the world, the main branch of the New York Public Library is one of the most impressive library buildings in the world.

From here it was on to New York’s most famous landmark (and arguably it’s most overrated) Times Square.

U.S. Armed Forces Times Square Recruiting Station in Times Square
Joining the army is the first thing I want to do when visiting New York…

Big, bright and bland. At one point the area had a bit of a seedy reputation, but you’d never know that today. Chain shops & restaurants dominate and you’re far more likely to get accosted by Elmo or Spongebob than you are by someone looking to mug you or sell you drugs.

I mean it even has one of these:

Madame Tussauds NYC
I’d hoped only tourists to London were foolish enough to support this place

After battling my way past the crowds I get to the other side of Times Square. Past here there’s not really a whole lot to see along the rest 42nd Street. This being the most interesting:

Weird mini NYPD car
Not sure what it is, but it doesn’t really look like it would be too effective at anything

I soon reach the Hudson, which is a good place to end the walk. Overall, I think it sounds impressive to say that I’ve walked across Manhattan. However, at just under 2 miles it isn’t really. Yet as 2 mile walks go, it’s about as jam packed full of cool and iconic sights as you could hope for.

Still this walk left me wanting more. So I thought up a more difficult challenge. Instead of walking New York East-West, I’d walk it North South. Stay tuned for my next post where I describe walking the length of Manhattan along 5th Ave. and Broadway – from 142nd all the way to Battery Park.

Looking east along 42nd Street
A look back along 42nd Street.

4 thoughts on “Walking Across Manhattan Along 42nd Street – New York City Trip”

    1. Ah thanks for the explanation. Still don’t understand why they can’t just walk like they do here in London.

  1. You missed a lot of things on 42nd Street. I went there on my last few trips to NYC. There are many Off Broadway theaters pass 9th Avenue, the Theatre Row area. There is a Chez Josephine restaurant that pays tribute to Josephine Baker. And the old McGraw Hill Building is on that street. The New York Times Building is near that area as well. I think there is also a Shake Shack around there too.

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