What to Do in Midtown WestFebruary 10, 2014 - by City Guide
Midtown is not only the center of Manhattan, but also the center of many visitor trips to New York. This section covers the west side of Midtown, approximately 34th Street to 42nd Street, west of Fifth Avenue, including Hell's Kitchen. For Midtown East, click here.
This area of Manhattan is home to many of the city's most iconic destinations. The 102-story Art Deco masterpiece the Empire State Building is undoubtedly NYC's most famous building. As fans of Sleepless in Seattle, King Kong, and An Affair to Remember know, its observation deck is one of the most romantic places in the city.
The Empire State Building is located near the park at Herald Square, an area which includes Macy's 11-floor flagship store, while 34th Street is home to a number national chains. (Herald Square is also the final stop for the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.) Seventh Avenue is also known as Fashion Avenue, and for good reason: anything involving fashion can be found from West 36th to 40th Streets between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. This is a fashion mecca, housing everything from buttons, to fabrics, and even furs. Wholesale fur shops can be found all around 29th Street and Seventh Avenue. The Garment District is located between Fifth and Ninth Avenues from 34th to 42nd Street, and is considered the center for fashion design and manufacturing in the U.S. The Fashion Walk of Fame runs along the east side of Seventh Avenue from 35th to 41st Streets. Honorees include Marc Jacobs, Betsey Johnson, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta, and Ralph Lauren. You'll find the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) on 27th Street between Seventh & Eighth Avenues; The Museum at FIT is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, and features exhibits with a emphasis on fashion and culture particularly clothing, costumes, textiles, art, and design.
In the area west of Herald Square, you'll find many other NYC icons. The fourth incarnation of Madison Square Garden is located atop Penn Station at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue. Madison Square Garden is home to the Knicks, Rangers, Liberty, and hosts numerous concerts and staged performances, including one every holiday season (A Christmas Carol and Annie were recent productions). Penn Station is the busiest train station in the U.S., serving Amtrak, the MTA (NYC's buses and subways), New Jersey Transit, and the Long Island Rail Road. Across Eighth Avenue from Penn Station and the Garden is James A. Farley Post Office, NYC's General Post Office. The building, bearing the inscription, Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds, is a National Historic Landmark, and occupies eight acres. Port Authority Bus Terminal is located at Seventh Avenue & 42nd Street.
On Fifth Avenue and 42nd St., you'll find Bryant Park and the main branch of the New York Public Library. Bryant Park (named for William Cullen Bryant) hosts many city events, including Fashion Week, movies on Monday nights during the summer, and the Winter Village at Bryant Park, a free ice-skating rink (rentals are extra) from mid-October to mid-January. The New York Public Library is a beautiful beaux-arts building (completed in 1911) and architectural stunner that hosts interesting exhibitions, and, as a research library, its books and rare treasures make it one of the world's most important.
Shopping in Midtown West quick links: B&H Photo Video; DataVision (computers/electronics); H&S Art Gallery & Custom Framing; Hell's Kitchen Flea Market; Macy's; Manhattan Mall; Midtown Comics; New York Golf Center; NYC Racquet Sports.
Sightseeing in Midtown West quick links: Empire State Building; Madison Square Garden.
*Charles Masson, a fabled maitre'd at La Grenouille, is managing a new French restaurant, Chevalier, located in the new Midtown luxury hotel Baccarat (20 W. 53rd Street: just opposite MoMA). The chef is Shea Gallante, formerly of Ciano.
Dining in Midtown West quick links: Heartland Brewery.