This walking tour is situated around midtown Manhattan and is estimated to approx.3 km.
If you follow the tour, you will pass the following attractions / museums:
Madison Square Park
Museum of Sex
Empire State Building
New York Public Library
Grand Central Terminal*
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock)
All attractions are situated along 5th avenue, except *-marked that is a minor detour from 5th avenue.
The tour description begin at Flatiron Building, but you can start at any place if you like.
The famous iconic Flatiron building was constructed in 1902 and was the first building in New York using a steel frame as backbone. The 20 stories building was originally known as the Fuller Building after George A.Fuller. The present name got the building because the triangular shape resembles a clothes iron.
It was also the tallest structure in New York City at that time. People was very worried as they thought the building would tumble in the wind.
The building serves today as an office building and is not open to the public.Besides standing in front of the building,you can also get a good view from the Empire State Building observation deck.
Very close to the Flatiron Building just opposite Madison Square Park, you will find “Eataly”.
This is an Italian store / market, and is a MUST visit, if you fancy Italian food. They also have a location downtown right inside the new path station “The Oculus”.
Just north of Flatiron Building you will find Madison Square Park.
Madison Square Park opened as a public park in 1847. It got its name after Madison cottage that once was situated here. The cottage was an inn named after President James Madison, hence the name Madison Square Park.
The first Madison Square Garden (the famous entertainment venue) was established just north of the park in 1879. Later it moved to several other locations and the present location is on top of Pennsylvania train station between 7th and 8th avenue.
It is not a big park, but pleasant and there are always many interesting things going on.
In the southern end of the park, you will find Shake Shack where you can get something to eat.
Shake Shack actually sprouted from a hot dog cart in this park. It has later developed to become one of New York’s most visited burger joints. With good reason. They serve, in my opinion, the best burgers and French fries in New York City!! It’s to die for – LOL
When you have filled your stomach with these delicious burgers, you walk up to 233 5th Avenue where you will find Museum of Sex. It is located on the same side as the park.
Its not a place to go if you want to get laid. It IS actually a museum, but an interesting and funny one.
Continue to walk further uptown along 5th avenue.
The funny thing about New York, and the reason why the city is so diverse, is the countless ethnic neighborhoods. Emigrants made this city and it’s funny to explore. Over 200 different languages are spoken in the city.
Read my blog about all the city’s neighborhoods.
Around 32nd street between 5th and 6th avenue you will find Korea town.
You barely think you are in Manhattan anymore because of all the Korean stores and the signs written in Korean. You can click on the link and read more about this neighborhood.
When you reach the corner of 34 street / 5 avenue, you have arrived at the Empire State Building.
Probably the most famous building in New York City.
In my opinion, the best example of a real skyscraper.
The Empire State Building was built in the midst of the depression in 1931, and after construction, it was the world’s tallest building. A record that lasted until 1973, where the World Trade Center was built. Unfortunately, these two iconic towers are no longer due to the tragic terrorist attack in September 2011, but that’s a completely different story.
This unique Art Deco building is one of my favorites in the City, and over the years, I have probably been up at the observatory on 86th floor approx. 20 times. Day and night. I have also tried the extra tour up to the 102nd floor one time.
From the observation deck, you have an amazing view over the City and as I have mentioned, you have a grand view to the Flatiron Building, which is described a little earlier in this blog post.
I know that many people are visiting “Top of the Rock” instead of Empire State Building. (Described a little later), but in my onion, you haven’t been to New York City without having visited this famous iconic structure.
On the ground floor of the building, you will find the restaurant/bar “Heartland Brewery”.
This is a restaurant chain with a couple of other locations around the City.
They have amazing homebrewed beers and great food. Definitely worth a dinner visit, which I have done several times over the years – LOL. I like dark beer and my favorite is “Farmer John’s Oatmeal Stout”. Fabulous – just fabulous.
The Empire State Building
When Alfred E. Smith, long time mayor of New York City, lost the presidential election of 1928, he found himself out of work for the first time in years and was immediately tapped by his campaign manager, John Jakob Raskob, to head the syndicate that was planning to build the world’s tallest skyscraper. Raskob had started his career as secretary to Pierre du Pont and had worked his way up to being vice president of both DuPont and General Motors. He had initially conceived the skyscraper as a GM Building to rival the Chrysler Building. However, by the time Smith announced the project in August 1929, it had been christened the Empire State Building, which honored New York’s nickname1 and cashed in on Smith’s own popularity as governor. With Smith in place as the public face of the Empire State Corporation, Raskob hired architects Shreve, Lamb & Harmon to design the building.
According to the oft-told story, Raskob met with William Lamb, set a No. 2 pencil on end to give him a general idea of what the building should look like, and said, “Bill, how high can you make it so that it won’t fall down?” An early publicity drawing shows the Empire State Building’s spire used as a dirigible mooring mast. The story of the Empire State Building is often told in statistics—and they are stunning. After the demolition of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in October 1929 and the laying of the foundations, construction took just a record-setting 410 days, during which time 10 million bricks and 60,000 tons of steel were set. The steel was shipped from the mills in Pennsylvania by train, then loaded into trucks and delivered in an ongoing procession to 34th Street. It was often being riveted into place less than eight hours after it had left the mill. Keeping to this tight schedule, the building rose at an average rate of a floor per day. As the Depression worsened, labor became both cheap and replaceable, and construction came in far below its $50 million budget. Even before the Chrysler Building or the Manhattan Company were completed, Smith and Raskob had announced that the Empire State Building would be the world’s tallest, coming in at “at least 1,000 feet.” After William Van Alen revealed the Chrysler Building’s vertex, it became imperative to make the Empire State Building taller without adding a “useless” spire. To that end, Smith announced in December 1929 that the top of the Empire State would house a mooring mast, 1,300 feet from the ground, for transatlantic dirigibles. This was utter folly. Not only does a dirigible need to be anchored by both the nose and the tail (which is why they landed at airfields in New Jersey in the first place), the updrafts in Midtown were so strong that a zeppelin the length of two city blocks would have whipped around in the wind like a child’s toy. More to the point, a dirigible’s gondola was in the ship’s center; people would never have been able to (as pictured on the previous page in an early publicity drawing) exit from the helium-filled balloon straight into the 102nd-story waiting room. In late September 1931, the New York Evening Journal completed the only successful dirigible mooring. At great danger to life and limb, it delivered a package of newspapers from the Financial times. The closest the mooring mast ever saw to real use.
When the building opened on May 1, 1931 (at a final height of 1,252 feet), it was prepared to house 25,000 tenants. It was not simply the tallest building the world: with over 2.1 million square feet of rentable floor space, all of the offices of the Chrysler Building and the Manhattan Company could fit inside with room left over. However, those tenants failed to materialize. Unlike the Chrysler Building, conveniently located next to the city’s main commuter rail terminal, the Empire State Building was on a line with Penn Station, which in those days only served long-distance trains. People took to calling it “the Empty State Building,” and Raskob, in a vain effort to dispel that notion, paid the custodial staff to go around and flip on the lights at night in vacant offices. The only part of the building that was profitable was the 86th-floor observatory; in its first year, the observatory brought in $1 million, almost as much as the combined rent rolls for the rest of the building.
The observatory—along with the building’s starring role in King Kong, released in 1933—cemented its place not just as a tall building but also as an exciting one. Even when the World Trade Center’s taller observatory opened in 1975, many preferred the romance of the Empire State to the stark modernity of the Twin Towers. As Deborah Kerr said to Cary Grant in An Affair to Remember, “It’s the closest thing to heaven we have in New York City!”
(Source: “Inside the Apple by Michelle Nevius & James Nevius”)
The building is situated on the corner of 34th street and this street is a very good shopping street with Macy’s department Store a little walk to the West. You will also find the earlier mentioned Madison Square Garden close to 8th avenue, if you continue on 34th street, but this is not described is this blog post.
Continue the tour up along 5th avenue. On this stretch of the avenue, there are many electronic stores.
At the first glance, it seems tempting to by electronic in these stores, but from my experience, do not!
If you want to buy ex. Cameras etc., then visit B&H Photo store on the corner of 34th street /9th avenue. This is a top professional store with amazing guidance and knowledge.
Just keep walking along 5th avenue. If you get hungry, there is plenty of Deli-like places here.
I can highly recommend the deli’s with these big buffets where you mix your lunch and pay by weight.
When you are approaching 42nd street, you have New York Public Library on your left.
This amazing building is definitely worth a visit and have been location in many movies, ex. Sex and the City.
This was the location where Carry and Mr. Big should have been married, but didn’t happen because Mr. Big fled the scene – LOL.
Just behind the library, you will find Bryant Park, which is one of my favorite retreats in the City.
Centrally located and with an amazing view to the Empire State Building. In the summer, people are sun bathing on the lawn and you can play table tennis or just sitting and eat lunch while enjoying this great city.
If you turn right on 42nd street, you can take a detour to Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building.
Grand Central Terminal opened in 1913 and is built in Beaux-Art style. Note that it is named Terminal and NOT Station. The tracks terminate here!
Measured by number of platforms, it is the largest train station in the world. 44 platforms with 67 tracks in two levels beneath street level. Even though you may not travel by train, it is definitely worth a visit or two.
It is a grand building with an amazing shopping arcade called Grand Central Market, where you can get a lot of gourmet food and other stuff. The lower level is food court and here you will find, among other great eating-places, “The Oyster Bar”, which is a famous Oyster Bar. Surprise – LOL I, myself don’t fancy these slimy things, but the place is awesome.
Very close to the terminal is Chrysler Building Situated. This Skyscraper with the iconic spire was built as the head quarter to The Chrysler Cooperation in 1930.It was in 1931 surpassed by Empire State building as the tallest in the world.
The building serves as an office building and is not open to the public, but you may enter the lobby from the main entrance and experience the great artwork inside!
Walk back to 5th avenue, turn right, and walk further uptown on the avenue. This section of 5th avenue all the way up to 59 street is filled with VERY expensive high-level stores. In the windows, you will rarely see any price tags. Just swipe that plastic card and pay whatever it costs – LOL. Champs-Élysées – go home.
Between East 50th street and East 51st street, you have Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on the right.
When I say “East”, it is because 5th avenue divides the streets in East and West. East of 5th avenue and West of 5th avenue.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral (the present structure) was built from 1901-1906 and is the largest catholic cathedral in USA. It is open to the public almost all day and is magnificent. Do visit!
On the opposite side of the avenue, you will find the final stop on this tour. The Rockefeller Center.
It is also called the city within the City. The center consists of several buildings, of which many are interconnected beneath street level.
The main building is the famous GE Building, which is 70 stories tall and has an observation deck on the top, hence the name: “Top of the Rock”.
From this observation deck, you have the most spectacular view of Central Park to the North and Empire State Building to the South.
Also, in good weather, you can see the new Freedom Tower at World Trade Center site.
As I mentioned earlier, many people are visiting this observation deck instead of the one in Empire State Building, because from here you also have the spectacular of Empire State Building.
I can agree to this to some extent, but if you have the time, I would definitely visit BOTH observation decks.