Getting around without getting lost ~ NYC

Moving to another country is a big thing. Moving to big apple is even bigger. So when I first moved to New York City, I was overwhelmed and excited. Getting around in the city without getting lost was a major issue for me: uptown or downtown,  east or west, Queens or Brooklyn, Avenue or Street, local or express. I was 24×7 confused.

Now three years later I don’t even think about it any more. New York seemed to have taught my inner compass some good lessons. Stepping out of a Subway Station, a quick look around and I know where I am and where to go.

For visitors I have a short description handy:

  • New York City’s streets are, for the biggest part, arranged as a gird. Avenues going from North to South and vice versa, Streets from East to West and vice versa.
  • North of Houston Street the streets are in numerical order which makes it quite easy. If you are walking along an Avenue and the Streets Numbers are getting higher, you know, that you are walking uptown.
  • Avenues are also in numerical order, from East to West, 1st Avenue to 12th Avenue.
  • East of 1st Avenue are Avenue A, B, C, D. This is a part of East Village, also known as Alphabet City. Usually it is not on a tourists bucket list, as there are no big sights to see and the subway goes only around, but it definitely is worth a visit.
  • Many of the Streets and Avenues are one-way streets. It helps a lot if you can remember which Avenues are going North, which South. I get around quite well without remembering that.
  • House Numbers on Streets start in Manhattan’s middle and go up the further you are away from the middle. That means there are two houses with the number 600 on 73rd St. One is 600 E 73rd St and the other one is 600 W 73rd St.
  • The Streets below Houston Street have Names and are not arranged as a grid. You could take a map, or to be more New Yorkerish: google.maps app on some fancy electronic device.
  • The Subway has local and express trains. On the official map the local stops are the black points, Express stops are the white points.

  • Sometimes the signs in subway stations show ‘Queens’ or ‘Brooklyn’ instead of  ‘Uptown’ or ‘Downtown’. Just remember that Queens is North of Brooklyn so the train into direction of Queens is going North within Manhattan: Uptown!
  • Before entering the Subway Station read the sign above the stairway! Some Stations are only for trains downtown, others only for trains uptown. When you’ve bought an unlimited ride pass for a week, and you enter the wrong station, you would probably end up waiting 20 min or buying a single ride ticket, to get into the station on the other side of the street.  The unlimited ride passes are time blocked for 20 min, to prevent multiple riders with one ticket.

Piece of cake, right?

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