Lay of the Land
“The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.”~F. Scott Fitzgerald
With an area of roughly 40 square miles, Manhattan has a population that accounts to nearly 72,000 people per square mile, making it the most densely populated county in the United States. The undeniable aura of New York City—and its varied, constantly evolving neighborhoods—never cease to draw an exorbitant number of new residents and tourists each year. Manhattan is composed of an eclectic mix of locales, from to the trendy to the classic. Those located uptown tend to have more old-world glamour, with many of the classic Manhattan sights including Fifth Avenue’s flagship shops, luxury hotels and Central Park. Downtown Manhattan has a decidedly more eclectic vibe; historically the industrial center of the city, the southernmost neighborhoods are now a hotbed for stylish youths thanks to their independent boutiques, vibrant nightlife and artistic spirit.
Midtown: The most touristy area of the city and a constant hub of activity, Midtown houses landmarks such as the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Broadway, Fifth Avenue shopping and the southern perimeter of Central Park. Many large luxury hotels are based in this area, as well as flagship boutiques and fine dining restaurants.
Upper East Side: This leafy and affluent residential neighborhood of Manhattan is home to lavish townhouses on quiet side streets, luxury boutiques, a selection of fine hotels and restaurants, and some of the city’s most important art museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim and the Frick Collection.
Upper West Side: The Upper West Side is an established residential neighborhood, known for its cultural, artistic and intellectual atmosphere. Columbia University, Lincoln Center, Cathedral of St John the Divine and the American Museum of Natural History are located here.
East Village / LES: A hotbed for culture and art, and famously known for the many musicians, artists, and students that lived here in the mid-20th century, the East Village still retains a diverse, artistic community with vibrant nightlife, galleries and festivals.
Gramercy: This peaceful, leafy neighborhood borders the East Village to the north. Gramercy boasts a lovely private park (where only residents get a key) and the hip Gramercy Park Hotel.
Meatpacking / Chelsea: With wide cobblestoned streets and austere, block-like facades, the Meatpacking District and Chelsea were some of New York City’s first industrial neighborhoods. Beginning in the 1990’s, the area’s gritty butcheries and nightclubs made way for high-end designer boutiques (Christian Louboutin, Stella McCartney, Jeffrey, to name a few), making it one of the most stylish places to see and be seen. Today, the neighborhoods are home to a number of exclusive nightlife venues, sleek hotels, the High Line and the storied Whitney Museum of American Art.
TriBeCa: Located in lower Manhattan along the Hudson River, TriBeCa has a residential feel thanks to its wide streets, art galleries and lack of tourists. Many of the neighborhood’s spacious, historic buildings house the lofts of New York City celebrities (Beyoncé and Leonardo DiCaprio have hideaways here). TriBeCa is also home to family-friendly restaurants and parks and lies just north of the Financial District, home to the Freedom Tower and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
SoHo / Nolita: Cast iron architecture decorates the facades of many of SoHo’s buildings, once an artist haven and now a gentrified shopping neighborhood (it boasts a unique mix of fashionable boutiques, chain brand stores and art galleries). Directly east of SoHo is Nolita, a charming neighborhood that is often less crowded than SoHo, allowing visitors to wander its charming streets, popping into small independent boutiques and hole-in-the-wall cafés.
Union Square / Flatiron: An icon of downtown Manhattan, Union Square is a bustling area full of students and major department stores. The Flatiron District is slightly more demure, but still draws lively crowds thanks to Eataly and New York City’s first Shake Shack, both of which are big draws for tourists.
West Village: The bucolic West Village, bordered on the west by the Hudson River and the east by Sixth Avenue, exudes a sophisticated bohemian vibe with trendy boutiques (Bleecker Street is one of the city’s most famous shopping sprawls), a number of cute restaurants and architecture dating back to the early 20th century.