How to Navigate NYC like you’ve Lived here all your life

Rob Grams Rob Grams

How to Navigate NYC like you’ve Lived here all your life

Attention NYC-noobs, we get it, it looked easy to get around, right? Well here are 10 insider tips for navigating the deceptively complicated streets of New York City. Here you’ll find everything from memory tricks, secret (open-secret at least) tricks and tips for finding your way around.

1. Some subway tiles are color-coded to help you figure out where you are (local or express)


(New York Transit Museum)
(New York Transit Museum)

Subway tiles (in only some stations: Lafayette Avenue, Fulton Street etc.) tell straphangers whether they had reached a local or express stop. They are marked with light green tiles.


2. A building’s address can tell you what avenues it’s between. (courtesy of NYKnow)

Fifth Avenue separates Manhattan’s streets into between east and west and the addresses change by hundreds every on every avenue. So:

“The address of a building can tell you what avenues it’s between. For addresses on the the west side, just add the first number of the address (zero if the address is only two numbers) to 5 for the lower cross street. For example, 225 W 37th St. (2+5=7) is between Seventh and Eighth Avenue. For the east side, just subtract 5 from the same number for the highest cross street. So 150 E 18th St (1-5=-4) is between Fourth and Third Avenues.”

3.  On the subway map – Black dots show local stops and white dots show express stops.
4. The Lampposts in central park show you where you are in the park

It’s easy to get lost in Central Park if you’re new here, it’s huge. Most of the lampposts have a set of numbers embossed on the base that corresponds to the cross-streets you would be on if the street extended through the park.

5. For the most part, in Manhattan, uptown train platforms are on the east side of the street, and in downtown, they are on the west side.
6. Don’t plan on taking a taxi between 4-5 pm

Between 4-5 pm is the witching hour…. it’s when taxi shifts end, so it’s much harder to find a cab.

7. Even-numbered streets head east and odd go west

Simple right? Now all you have to do is remember it.

8. On a North-South street: Odd-numbered buildings are on the west side
On an East-West Street: Odd numbered buildings are on the north side

That sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is, and it will knock tons on time off of finding specific addresses in the city. Good Luck!

9. Every other avenue in Manhattan flows in alternate directions.

From First Avenue to 11th, on the major avenues in Manhattan, the traffic flows in alternating directions. Of course, with every rule there are exceptions, in this case those are Third and Fourth Avenue.

10. Here’s an easy way to remember the Uptown avenues (courtesy of broadwaybarb)

“A handy mnemonic device can help you remember the order of uptown avenues. “You can take a CAB back home it it’s Late PM.” is an easy way to remember that the avenues uptown are Columbus, Amsterdam, Broadway, Lexington, Park and Madison from left-to-right.”

Featured image source [Wikimedia Commons]

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