The Midtown East area is a popular destination for shoppers in Manhattan.
It’s not just the shopping- it has world-class shopping and dining destinations. This guide will help you find your way around the neighborhood and learn where to go and what to do while you’re there.
Midtown East encompasses the area around the intersection of Lexington and Third Avenues, from East 49th Street to East 57th Street. It contains three neighborhoods: Turtle Bay, Rose Hill, and Murray Hill.
Turtle Bay – Turtle Bay is located between Lexington Avenue, 48th to 52nd Streets. Turtle Bay is the oldest neighborhood in Midtown East and has a feel of New York City’s old life before it became a city. It offers many historical buildings from its origins as Manhattan’s first planned community and many of the city’s top museums.
Rose Hill – Rose Hill (bounded by Lexington Avenue, 45th to 47th Streets) was created during World War II when construction began on the United Nations Headquarters (UNHQ).
The area is more residential than Turtle Bay and contains some of the most expensive housing in New York City. It is close to UNHQ and Carnegie Hall (although it also has a smaller number of visitors than the other two neighborhoods).
Murray Hill – Murray Hill (located between 42nd Street, Park Avenue, and Lexington Avenue) is the largest of all three neighborhoods. Murray Hill’s signature attraction, Grand Central Terminal, was constructed in 1913. This makes it one of the oldest train stations in America and a magnet for tourists from around the world.
There are many shopping options, beautiful parks for leisurely strolls, restaurants, hotels, bars, and clubs, all within walking distance.
The Midtown East area is home to many of Manhattan’s major attractions. You’ll find top museums like the Museum of Modern Art and Grand Central Terminal, gorgeous public parks like Carl Schurz Park, and historical attractions like the United Nations Headquarters (it’s not a tourist attraction, but it is one of the city’s prime world landmarks).
Image source: Instagram @grandcentralnyc posted March 10, 2022
Midtown East is located in the Capital District, a small part of New York City named this since it is home to the New York State Legislature and offices of other state and federal government agencies.
The district was once on the outskirts of town but has been completely redeveloped to become a central part of the city.
When most people think about Midtown Manhattan, they think about Times Square and skyscrapers, but Midtown East has much more to offer than just commercial areas.
The Midtown East area is considered to be between 42nd and 51st Streets, between Second and Lexington Avenue.
The part of midtown west of Seventh Avenue is known as the Theater District and includes Broadway, several popular theaters, and the Times Square theater district. The area east of Fifth Avenue contains some of Manhattan’s most luxurious residences (along with the Trump Building ). The northern part is home to Carnegie Hall and Yankee Stadium.
There are three neighborhoods in this area: Turtle Bay, Rose Hill, and Murray Hill. They are all very different, but you’ll find interesting options for every traveler.
Image source: Instagram @timessquarenyc posted April 17, 2022
Hotels in the Midtown East area are some of the most expensive in New York City. Whether you’re staying for a night or a week, the quality of your stay will exceed expectations.
Several major luxury and boutique hotels are located here, including Westgate’s newest hotel in Midtown East, the Westgate New York Grand Central.
There are many midtown East hotels, but it’s worth considering exactly what you want from your trip before looking for a hotel.
Every day more than 750,000 people pass through Grand Central Terminal. It’s been a major transportation hub since its opening in 1913 and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of New York City.
Grand Central has 59 tracks, 24 platforms, and 67 staircases. It also contains an impressive collection of Chihuly art glass.
Inside, you’ll find dozens of stores, coffee shops, and restaurants, large public spaces like Vanderbilt Hall that can be rented for private events (it was the setting for Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw’s wedding to Mr. Big), and ticket offices for all commuter rail lines except the Metro-North Railroad (which has a station directly below Grand Central).
Grand Central Terminal is located on 42nd Street between Lexington and Park Avenues, in Midtown East.
The United Nations was created after World War II to promote peace across the globe. One of the first major projects was the construction of the United Nations Headquarters (UNHQ) in New York City. It began construction in 1946, and it hosted its first meeting on January 10, 1950. The complex (it isn’t a single building) is located along the East River at First Avenue between 42nd and 48th Streets and is one of Manhattan’s most important world landmarks. Regular tours are available for visitors who want to see this historic landmark.
One of the most striking elements of UNHQ is its building design which includes four distinct glass and steel geometrical elements. They are called “pods,” and the first three of these pods contain various offices and conference areas. The fourth contains an information center, a cafe, galleries, restaurants, shops, and a rooftop terrace. It’s free to visit the building, but you will have to book tickets online in advance if you want to take one of the guided tours.
Image source: Instagram @mikemclaughlinphoto posted August 12, 2020
There are also many other attractions (and millions of tourists) within walking distance from UNHQ, including:
- Washington Square Park
- Wall Street
- Radio City Music Hall
- Rockefeller Center
Midtown East is home to some of the best shopping options in all of New York City. Whether you’re looking for the latest clothing trends, or a unique souvenir to remember your visit by, Midtown East will help you find it.
- Bloomingdale’s (Across from UNHQ on Lexington Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets) is a popular shopping destination for locals and tourists alike.
- Macy’s Herald Square (Located on 34th Street between Broadway and Seventh Avenue) is one of the major department stores on Fifth Avenue. It’s located in Manhattan’s “Shopping District” (so it’s easy to get to from wherever you’re staying).
- FAO Schwarz (633 Fifth Ave between 53rd and 54th Streets) is a great destination for kids looking for toys, souvenirs, and other fun things. It’s also a popular tourist destination, so make sure to go early or prepare to wait in line.
- The Oculus (Westfield World Trade Center Mall). While non-shoppers might not find this interesting, the Oculus is one of the most impressive malls in Manhattan. It was built after 9/11 on top of the original twin towers complex, and it gives shoppers access to hundreds of stores, restaurants, and retail options. The mall is located at One World Trade Center between Vesey Street and Fulton Street.
Amongst the largest and most popular attractions in Midtown East, there are a few attractions that are less well-visited but equally as exciting for the intrepid tourist.
- The Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum – A popular attraction for anyone interested in military history. It’s located at 46th Street between 12th and 13th Avenues.
- The New York City Police Museum – Dedicated to preserving the history of the New York City Police Department. It’s located at 100 Old Slip, just north of Wall Street.
- The Skyscraper Museum – Telling the story of Manhattan, New York City, and skyscrapers through exhibits, images, and videos. It’s located at 39 Battery Place on the East River waterfront in Lower Manhattan between South Street Seaport and the Brooklyn Bridge (which makes it easy to get to from Midtown East).
- The 9/11 Memorial & Museum – Dedicated to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attack on New York City as well as those who worked for and/or served in the military during the war on terror. It’s located at 96 Church Street between Fulton Street and Vesey Street in Lower Manhattan.
- The Museum of American Finance – A small museum telling the story of finance and economics through an interactive gallery, displays, and special events. It’s located at 220 Liberty Street between Wall Street and Broadway in Lower Manhattan.
- The Intrepid Aviation Museum – With more than 60 aircraft on display plus interesting photo galleries, videos, flight simulators, a library, and a research center.
Image source: Instagram @christophlindnerphoto posted October 1, 2020
In a brief historical overview, you might say that New York City’s most popular tourist destinations are its “big three” (Times Square, the Empire State Building, and the Statue of Liberty), but we’d argue that Midtown East is just as important. It’s home to some of the city’s best shopping (including the world-famous Bloomingdales) and one of its best transportation hubs.
The area has also been host to some of the most influential people in history, including Franklin D Roosevelt, Alexander Hamilton, Andy Warhol, and Elizabeth Taylor, who all lived, worked, and socialized in Midtown East.
While it’s not often that a neighborhood is considered to be New York City’s “centerpiece,” Midtown East is truly a spectacular area to explore. Take some time and explore the attractions here, and you’ll be surprised to see that it is a “world-class city within the city.