On our third day in New York we decided that a good way to cover a lot of ground would be to walk from one side of the Island to the other, from West to East. Once you’re in Manhattan you realise how surprisingly manageable it is to walk around as the street names are easy to navigate.
We began our journey by taking the E train from Union Turnpike station in Queens to 23rd Street. As we exited the station we made the short journey on foot towards the Meatpacking district, excited for another day of exploring. Approaching the Meatpacking district along Gansevoort or Hudson street you can imagine each of the brown brick buildings once being one of the areas 250 packing plants or slaughterhouses. However during the 1980’s where supermarkets became more and more popular the area became more notorious for Mafia ran gay nightclubs and prostitution before being complete over-developed into a boutique shopping and residential district. You can still see the remains of some of the old sites though.
Adjacent to this area is The High Line. This High Line was built by the New York Central Railroad between 1929 and 1934 to allow trains to transport meat, produce and dairy products into nearby warehouses and factories. However after the depletion of railway as a means of navigating produce as opposed to trucking the High Lines trains stopped running by 1980. It wasn’t until 2002 that the city commissioned for it to be turned into a one of a kind park with people able to walk above the ground and see from a height the area surrounding the park, mainly Chelsea and Jersey City across the river. As we walked the High Line you couldn’t help appreciate the congregation of artists enjoying painting the scenery, theatre performers practising their lines amongst other interesting and naturalistic locals.
We exited the High Line on West 23rd street in Chelsea (where the bomb went off 4 days prior), a residential area similar in wealth and prosperity as the English area known by the same name in West London. As we turned right on 8th avenue we were greeted by the bustling neighbourhood full with theatres, galleries, independent shops as well as your average high street stores. We completed a circle back towards the Northern part of the Meatpacking district by ending up at Chelsea Market. This indoor shopping and food hall is also home to offices and TV companies. The the old building used to be the National Biscuit Company where the Oreo was invented but has now been converted into a beautifully crafted showcase of what New York is all about; food, shopping and drinking. With hundreds of stores to browse in and eat from it is a good idea to allocate your lunch money here.
Exiting the market we walked the whole distance of Hudson street into West Village. A lot of people say that when they are describing what they imagine as ‘typical’ New York to look like they are describing the West Village Neighbourhood.
It is a incomparable to other environs in Manhattan as the high street is aligned with outdoor ale houses, wine bars, French cafes, vintage thrift shops and luxury dining restaurants. If you fancy a posh meal out in recommended going to West Village, it is where everyone who visits New York would choose as their ideal place to live. It’s extremely safe, community driven and quite frankly, bewitchingly beautiful. If you want more class and chic then do what we did and head over to Greenwich Village a couple blocks away and idle your way down Bleecker Street. This circuit of fashionable shops along with speciality booths and franchises is a perfect way to make you think to yourself ‘damn, why don’t I live here’.
Once you’ve finished crying at how poor you are compare to the people who live in this established row of blocks head East towards Washington Square Park. This iconic inner city garden is known for its Washington Square Arch that can be seen below. We stopped here for a break for about half an hour and listened to a guitarist sing songs from The Doors, Bowie and Coldplay.
If you keep walk East you will soon arrive at East Village. I would describe this area as the younger, adventurous and more irresponsible sibling compared to its professional and mature older sibling in West Village. This community is much more multi cultural and artsy with graffiti painted on every square inch of the walls, cheaper shops, 99cent Pizza and charismatic bars. This quarter is enjoyable to look around but there is not a whole bunch to do, only to see.
Now we had walked all the way from West to East Manhattan it was time to direct ourselves more central and walk up Fifth Avenue to the Flatiron building. This iconic structure is known internationally for its unusual design. The base of the building is no more than a MAC make up store amongst other global businesses but it is worth visiting to at least take a couple of pictures.
Across the street from the Flatiron is Madison Square Park, not to be confused with Madison Square Gardens. This busy park is home to tourists and salarymen taking rests and queuing for the much loved ‘Shake Shack’ which will feature in my ‘Bites’ section.
From Madison Square Gardens you are able to walk to the Empire State Building, which we did, until we realised it was $32 to not even get to the top of the building. We decided not to pay it as we have been to an untold amount of observation decks and we’ve always said afterwards that whatever building you’re visiting, it ALWAYS looks more impressive from a distance, rather than in the structure itself.
We continued East in West 34th street to check out Madison Square Gardens where Adele was performing that night. I think we were there for about 5 minutes before I got too annoyed being asked if I had any spare tickets for the show by touts so we left and we went and checked out some of the local bars for the night.
Veselka – On the corner of East 9th Street and Second Avenue. This restaurant is at the heart of Ukrainian Village, just East of East Village. The food here was incredible and affordable. I had a borscht soup or starter and stuffed cabbage with mushroom gravy and 4 meat and cheese pierogis accompanied with beetroot and horseradish.
Shake Shack – Madison Square Park. This reputable fast food chain is a must try when in NYC. Although it is more expensive, worse quality and smaller portions than In N Out it is still worth trying, especially in this setting.
The Long Hall – East 34th and Park Ave. This Irish bar is a cool place to enjoy a drink during happy hour. Outside of 4-8pm the drinks are pretty pricey though as you are venturing closer towards Midtown.
Mustang Harry’s – Typical Bar and Grill with a whole bunch of TV screens and sports fans. Good for Happy Hour, not so appealing for a night out.
Dixies near Flatiron Building. My favourite of the night, this diner-esque joint is the cheapest, friendliest and more diverse place to drink with loads of different beers on offer. Also although we didn’t eat here, the food when brought out looked amazing!
I think that this was one of our favourite days in America. This itinerary allowed us to explore a whole range of different neighbourhoods in manageable walking distances – although our legs ached towards the end. Not only are you witnessing diverse communities in this walk but you are also visited internationally known landmarks which makes for good photographs and bucket list ticks!
Meatpacking District 6/10
The Highline 10/10
Chelsea Neighbourhood 7/10
Chelsea Market 10/10
West Village 9/10
Greenwich Village 8/10
Washington Square Park 9/10
East Village 8/10
Flatiron Building 7/10
Madison Square Park 7/10
Empire State Building 10/10
Madison Square Gardens 3/10
That’s it folk, thanks for reading