When visitors think of New York City, they probably think of Midtown. That's where all the iconic sites are packed into a few square miles, from the Empire State Building to Times Square. Midtown West is the broad term for everything west of Fifth Avenue between 34th and 59th Streets. This article covers the southern half of Midtown West (34th to 42nd Streets), full of shopping, entertaining, and legendary sightseeing destinations.
The world's most famous building is the 102-story Art Deco masterpiece, the Empire State Building. The 1,250-foot structure was completed in 1931 and ranked as the world's tallest building for the next 40 years. As film fans well know, its observation deck is one of the most romantic places in the city. The new Empire State Building Experience includes museum-quality content about this iconic skyscraper.
The Empire State Building is located near the park at Herald Square, an area which includes Macy's 11-floor flagship store. This Macy's, which covers an entire city block, was long the world's largest store and contains everything from clothes to home goods to salons to restaurants. Elsewhere on 34th Street, find other clothing stores and restaurants lining the street and the indoor Manhattan Mall. For jewelry and luxury watches, look no further than Diamonds & Dials. Herald Square is also the final stop for the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Nearby is Koreatown, a crowded area between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. If you're looking for spa time, bulgogi, or karaoke, stop by K-Town (click here for dining options).
In the area west of Herald Square, you'll find many other NYC icons. The fourth incarnation of Madison Square Garden is located above Penn Station at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue. Madison Square Garden is home to the Knicks and Rangers. Billy Joel famously has a residency at The Garden and has played there once a month for nearly four years. The venue's schedule is always packed with the biggest names in music, comedy, and other performance.
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. This National Historic Landmark is inscribed with the postal worker's creed: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. Port Authority Bus Terminal is located at Eighth Avenue and 42nd St.
On Fifth Avenue and 42nd St., you'll find Bryant Park. Named for the writer William Cullen Bryant, Bryant Park hosts many city events, including Fashion Week, summer movie screenings, and the Winter Village at Bryant Park, featuring the ever-popular ice rink. Adjacent to Bryant Park is the New York Public Library's main branch, called the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. This stunning Beaux-Arts building was completed in 1911 and hosts visitors who study, read, and attend rotating exhibitions within its hallowed halls. This branch is used primarily for archival use and research as one of the world's preeminent research libraries, but it does circulate children's books from the basement floor.
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 to 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.
Any walk through Midtown West inevitably leads to the heart of Times Square. Read our guide on Times Square, the Theatre District, and Rockefeller Center to help you navigate these famous places. Read the Midtown East coverage of Grand Central Station and Fifth Avenue shopping.
Shopping in Midtown West quick links: B&H Photo Video, 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
Dining in Midtown West quick links: Heartland Brewery
Contributor: Merrill Lee Girardeau