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How not to get lost in Manhattan

added: 2013-07-23 , category: Discover NY

Despite how huge it is, it’s difficult to get lost in Manhattan – its grid-like topography is one of the easiest in the world to navigate.

The grid consists of 12 avenues (Ave.) which are perpendicularly crossed by numbered streets (St.). Let’s say you’re supposed to meet someone at the corner of 5th Ave. And 34th St. It’s a direction as clear as a „Stop” sign. The only thing you can wonder about is which exact corner to choose, but since there are only 4 of them, the chance of not seeing the person you’re meeting is practically nil. What’s most important, you don’t even need to look at the map to find the right location – all it takes is to check what avenue or street are you currently at. If you’re not sure what is the right way to the avenue you’re headed for, all it takes is to ask someone: should I go right or left? Everybody will be happy to help you out. Once you hit the right avenue, you just need to figure out whether you should go „up” or „down”, so that the street numbers increase or decrease till you find the desired one. One avenue or one street marks a single block. If you happen to stand on 32nd street and 5th Ave., it means you are two blocks away from 34th and 5th.

Below you can see an example: a map of central Manhattan („3” marks the meeting spot I mentioned above).



Had the New Yorkers been required to remember all the street names, it would cause a lot of confusion (especially since many of them don’t even speak English). A proposition to meet at the corner of Władysław Łokietek and Jefferson would more than likely cause some cold sweat and a nervous attempt to „google it on my smartphone”.

Not all of Manhattan is as easy, though. Below 14th street things start to get complicated. There are plenty of unnumbered streets there that don’t have their own names. If you get lost, stick to the golden rule: look for Broadway and go up – numbers will reappear at some point and you’ll know you’re home again. How will you know that instead of up you actually went down…? It’s simple: at some point you will hit the Statue of Liberty. Remember that you can always take the train, as well. Still, sometimes it’s worth it to get lost here, since it’s then when you discover all the coolest things.



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