Some of the most popular streets in New York also happen to be among the city’s must-see places. Even so, New York has a personality that changes from street to street. One moment you’ll meander down an upscale cobblestone street, and the next amazes you with massive skyscrapers.
The NYC areas that appeal to you will depend on what you wish to see on your visit. Are visits to cultural institutions high on your list? How about scenic urban parks or grandiose mansions? Or perhaps roaming the world’s epicentre of finance, commerce, and theatre? If you’re clueless about which New York streets to explore, we’ve listed some of our favourites. From tree-lined avenues to museum-filled thoroughfares, you can use this list to navigate the most popular strips and plan your walk down New York’s vibrant streets.
1. Broadway: The path to Times Square and theatrical shows in Manhatten
If watching a Broadway show is on your bucket list, stop by TKTS Times Square to grab your tickets. Broadway is synonymous with the Theatre District and New York City’s historic venues. Stroll the theatre-lined avenue to see the scheduled performances and watch New York’s finest actors take the stage. Read more
2. Park Avenue: Gigantic skyscrapers dotting the Midtown Manhattan skyline
A strut down Park Avenue will open your eyes to the masterful architecture of New York’s iconic buildings. Don’t let go of your camera as the looming skyscrapers become more impressive the farther you go. Start your walk from outside Union Square to view historic structures like the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building.
Park Avenue runs directly into Grand Central Terminal, the awe-inspiring Beaux-Arts commuter rail terminal. The famous 4-faced opal clock in the Main Concourse is where countless New Yorkers meet friends and relatives. Continue your architectural tour of Park Avenue to find other engineering marvels that include the MetLife Building, Waldorf Astoria, and 432 Park Avenue
3. St. Mark’s Place: A vast collection of animated vendors and hip eateries in East Village
St. Mark’s Place clings to its weird personality and feels authentically New York, even in the face of gentrification. St. Mark’s Place stretches from Cooper Square to Avenue A and formed the epicentre of New York City’s counter-culture movement. Punks, poets, and hippies flourished on these short 3 blocks that formed a cultural hub in the East Village.
St. Mark’s Place retains its grungy and quirky vibe with some of Manhattan’s most unique institutions. Creative street food vendors, hip restaurants, dive bars, and funky shops keep the counter-culture spirit alive. The street ends at Tompkins Square Park, a former hippie enclave that often hosts farmers markets and live music performances.
4. Fifth (5th) Avenue: An elite New York strip in Midtown Manhattan
Nicknamed “Millionaire’s Row,” 5th Avenue became a hotbed for the nation’s elite in the 19th century. Gilded Age mansions reflect this transition of the former pastoral thoroughfare into a playground for the wealthy class. While the golden era of New York’s high society has largely departed 5th Avenue, visitors can still find a few palatial Beaux-Arts buildings here.
The street still flaunts its wealth as one of America’s flashiest shopping avenues. High-end retailers like Armani, Bergdorf Goodman, and Louis Vuitton host upscale shoppers prowling for the latest fashion trends. Art connoisseurs can feel inspired at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Frick Collection. And history buffs can visit famous New York City sights, such as the St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Empire State Building. Read more
5. Washington Street: Where to catch an iconic shot of the Manhattan Bridge
Washington Street attracts photographers and movie buffs for its famous viewpoint of the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). The image has graced countless movies, TV shows, and Instagram posts to become Brooklyn’s most sought-after picture. The waterfront intersection presents a striking panorama of the bridge between red-brick buildings and overlooking a cobblestone street. And the Empire State Building stands on the distant horizon beyond the Manhattan Bridge.
After getting your snapshot, wander into Main Street Park to find DUMBO’s Pebble Beach. Beachfront restaurants with outdoor seating near the shore offer stunning views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline. And if you’re up for a workout, enjoy those dreamy cityscapes while rock-climbing at The Cliffs at DUMBO.
Broadway is your ticket to the bright lights, flashy advertisements, and gigantic billboards of Times Square. The thoroughfare cuts through the commercial hub and forms a town square crossed by hundreds of thousands of people daily. Many corporations have offices here, and their logos loom above the chaotic pedestrian zones. Wander the plaza to find an assortment of costumed characters performing for tips from visitors.
Location: Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
6. Wall Street: The world’s financial epicentre in Lower Manhattan
Wall Street is the world’s economic powerhouse, coursing 8 blocks through Lower Manhattan’s Financial District. Home to the New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street hosts the world’s most influential investors and banking moguls. Many of America’s biggest financial institutions and brokerage firms have headquarters and offices on the narrow street. But it’s not all about finance around Wall Street since the corridor sits in Manhattan’s original neighbourhood.
Federal Hall was the original capital of the United States and where George Washington became the nation’s 1st president. The site also housed America’s first Congress and Supreme Court before the capital moved to Philadelphia. Around the corner, the 19th-century parish Trinity Church was once New York City’s tallest structure.
7. Crosby Street: A cobblestoned shopping thoroughfare in SoHo
Pre-war buildings replace cheesy window displays to entice a more upscale clientele. Browse the indie shops to find vintage sneakers, custom textiles, sustainable clothing, fashionable jeans, high-end furniture, and more. Recharge your batteries by popping into a cosy café or espresso bar for a refreshing cup of joe.
8. Doyers Street: A once infamous corridor in Chinatown with a bloody history
The curving 200-ft Doyers Street in New York’s Chinatown once had a shady reputation as America’s most dangerous street. Nicknamed “The Bloody Angle,” the Chinatown corridor witnessed a horrific streak of gang violence in the early 20th century. Violent conflicts between Chinatown’s Tong Gangs escalated, and hatchets earned Doyers Street the bloody moniker. According to law enforcement officials, more people succumbed to violent deaths at The Bloody Angle than any other American street.
Despite its grim and bloody past, Doyers Street remains a major artery of Chinatown. Restaurants, salons, and gift shops adorn the angled street among old tenement houses. First opened during the alleyway’s violent era, the Nom Wah Tea Parlor is the oldest restaurant in Chinatown.
9. Riverside Drive: Scenic views of the Hudson River and luxury condos in the Upper West Side
Riverside Drive runs parallel to the Hudson River and offers a picturesque escape from the urban jungle. The winding street adjoins affluent neighbourhoods with city parks and sports complexes perched along the river. Wander the narrow sections of the thoroughfare to find yourself surrounded by pre-war townhouses. Trees provide refuge on scorching afternoons as joggers and dog walkers enjoy the greenery.
The adjacent Riverside Park attracts outdoorsy New Yorkers with its peaceful walking trails, bike paths, and flower gardens. As you walk or cycle along the tree-lined avenue, you encounter several heartfelt monuments to notable American figures. Among the most impressive is the granite-and-marble tomb of President Ulysses S. Grant – it’s North America’s largest mausoleum.
10. Prospect Park West: A leafy avenue in Brooklyn’s Park Slope
Prospect Park West offers a gateway to Brooklyn’s version of Central Park. Stroll the leafy avenue for a glimpse of residential life outside of raucous Manhattan. Walking trails and bike paths meander into the 526-acre park and escort you to historic landmarks. Just a short walk from Prospect Park West, you’ll find The Picnic House, Boathouse & Audubon Center, and Brooklyn’s only forest oasis.
Adjacent to Prospect Park, the classy neighbourhood features gorgeous brownstones and apartment complexes. Wander towards Grand Army Plaza to behold the inspiring Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch or grab local produce from the Greenmarket farmers market. And a quick detour around Prospect Park leads you to the world-renowned Brooklyn Museum.
Location: Brooklyn, NY 11215, USA
Daniel Grenier – Contributing Writer