New York's wealthy lived below 59th Street before the turn of the 20th century, and although some notable residences were built along Fifth Avenue in the latter half of the 19th century, the majority were constructed after 1890. Some 25 years later, enormous private residences could be found all the way up to 96th Street. Of course, with the New York Central Railroad now traversing Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue with its stellar views of Central Park had additional cachet. The side streets boomed with construction as well. Large residences required servants, and conversely, large families with servants required large residences. Size-wise, many of New York's biggest apartments can still be found along Fifth and Park Avenues. With tastes and style changing frequently throughout that period of American history, you'll find some great examples of Italian Renaissance revival and Beaux-Arts (among other styles) along the way.
A little advice before we head north: staying on the Central Park (i.e. west) side of Fifth Avenue will make it easier to examine the buildings from top to bottom, and you will also encounter significantly less traffic and other obstacles (bicycles, absent-minded pedestrians, etc.) while proceeding north.
We begin at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, also known as Central Park South along the park's southern periphery. From this vantage point, take in the scenery in all directions, noting both the FAO Schwarz toy store (the kids will insist on visiting) and the famous Plaza Hotel, which in 2008 received an extraordinarily glamorous makeover. Also have a look at the General Sherman monument here in Grand Army Plaza, which is an interesting use of urban space. Hotels in the area are not limited to the Plaza; you'll see the luxurious Sherry-Netherland just across Fifth Avenue. And heading up to 61st Street, note the elegant Pierre, both of which are among the city's finest.
Private clubs, of course, play an important role in a big city's life, and surely the Metropolitan Club at the corner of 60th Street and the Knickerbocker Club at 62nd Street are among the most elite institutions, thus meriting the opulent and elegant design. At this point, you can choose to take a stroll down 62nd Street to Park Avenue, and then proceed back to Fifth Avenue via 63rd or 64th Streets; all three blocks have exquisite townhouses, at least a dozen of which are home to the rich and famous (but we aren't naming names).
At this point, you might choose to visit the Central Park Zoo if you have the kids with you; although small, it is worth a detour, even if only as a quick rest stop (gift shop, bathrooms, café). Open year round, animals have had a presence at this site since the 1860s. Proceeding north from 64th Street, a number of buildings on Fifth Avenue stand out: Number 828, the Edward and Herminie Berwind House; number 840, Temple Emanu-El, an impressive structure worth a visit when open. East 66th Street has some interesting buildings as well; perhaps stroll to Madison Avenue and then proceed back to Fifth Avenue via 67th Street.
Heading up to East 70th Street, do pause to admire the Henry Frick house, now the Frick Collection. One of America's most famous industrialists, Frick amassed an extraordinary collection of art, which we consider of New York's hidden treasures. Going further north, East 72nd Street, like many of the larger crosstown blocks (e.g. 59th Street, 96th Street) has some particularly noteworthy buildings, as a quick detour to Madison Avenue and then back via 73rd Street will reveal. In particular, 7 and 9 East 72 Street are among the truly finest Beaux-Arts townhouses in New York City. And 11 East 73rd Street, the Joseph and Kate Pulitzer House, is one of the most intriguing examples of the architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, responsible for so many of New York's classic buildings constructed around the turn of the 20th century.
East 75th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues has some fascinating residences, and you might choose to stop on Madison Avenue at the Whitney Museum to see the permanent collection and special exhibits, or perhaps visit just for lunch.
Lower Fifth Avenue is located in the Midtown neighborhood of Manhattan.
From the hustle of the Port Authority Bus Terminal to the bustle of Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street, much of New York's dazzling vibrancy and energy emanates from this area stretching from Times Square to Central Park South. Packed with theaters, tourist attractions and tall office buildings, the buzz and glow of the city are most obvious amid the huge neon signs, giant wraparound news tickers (ABC News has a studio location here) and Broadway marquees. After braving the crowds of pop-obsessed teeny boppers gathered around MTV Studios visit the Hershey’s Time Square Store to satisfy your sweet tooth. Or grab a bite to eat at typical tourist meccas like TGI Friday's or the Dave & Buster's.
A stroll up Broadway, whether in the early morning or late at night, passes by some of America's most cherished institutions, and the number of glowing lights are rivaled only by the Las Vegas Strip. Little wonder that Mondrian's inspiration for "Broadway Boogie-Woogie" came from this amazing array of places and colors; some of the facades literally scream out at the visitor as though ready to burst out from the grid of Midtown's streets and fly into orbit!
If you need a respite from the sensory overstimulation of Times Square, visit the New York Public Library. The majestic Beaux-Arts building, flanked by the two famous marble lions, Patience and Fortitude, has been the heart and soul of the New York library system for nearly a century. It’s great for a little peace and quiet, and of course a great read. The library is to adjacent Bryant Park, which is a lovely patch of green in the middle of skyscraper territory. Among the amenities available to visitors are a French-style carousel, a boule board, chess tables, free summer movie screening, over 25,000 varieties of flowers, the Bryant Park Grill, and free wireless access, as well as 2,000 moveable chairs.
Midtown West is also home to Radio City Music Hall (home to world-famous dancers, the Rockettes), Museum of Television and Radio, Museum of Modern Art, Carnegie Hall and the newly renovated Museum of Arts & Design. These extraordinary cultural institutions play host year-round to natives and tourists alike, so catch an eye-catching exhibit or enjoy a symphony and bask in some of New York’s greatest artistic offerings.
There's also no shortage of restaurants in the area. For some excellent French fare try La Bergamote, which is known for its vast menu, with nearly 30 types of luxurious French pastries, six sorts of croissants, over a dozen types of breads as well as diverse handmade chocolates. For dinner try Aquavit, the country's preeminent Scandinavian restaurant. There really are too many dining options to list, but click here to check out entire listings of restaurant in the Midtown area.
If you're looking to spend your stay in New York right in the heart of Midtown, there are plenty of hotel options. The DoubleTree by Hilton is located right in Times Square, as is the sophisticated Park Central New York. And for the more budget conscious traveler there's the Comfort Inn Midtown and the Portland Square Hotel.
Midtown East stretches from 42nd Street north to 59th, and East of Fifth Avenue to the East River. The area is populated with some of New York’s most iconic landmarks. While walking along 42nd Street and Park Avenue a visit to Grand Central Station is certainly in order, for Grand Central is one of the most stunning railroad stations in America. Walk in to admire its stunning brass clock, the exquisite staircases, and the unique celestial ceiling, its light bluish-green background filled with well-known constellations dotted with tiny lights. Restored in recent years, the cavernous main hall is bathed in natural light during the day, and pulsates with activity at night, thanks not least to its three busy restaurants: Michael Jordan's Steakhouse, Metrazur, and the famous Oyster Bar. Another superb restaurant in the area includes the Benjamin Steakhouse, housed inside the ornate 1903 Beaux-Arts Dylan Hotel. There's also Sparks Steak House which is known for not only its massive steaks, but its massive wine list as well.
The gorgeous Chrysler Building (which turned 75 in 2005) is also nearby. In the bright sunlight, the upper floors gleam, reflect, and even seem to pulsate light, directing the eye upwards towards the spire. Its gorgeous Art Deco lobby, with murals celebrating transportation themes, is definitely one of New York’s finest. Examine the ornamental details, the typical Deco motifs, the lush marble, and the charming light fixtures, all restored in recent years. You’ll also definitely want to visit Rockefeller Center. The plaza, adorned with Paul Manship’s massive golden 1934 statue of Prometheus contains the world-famous ice skating rink and of course is home to the giant Christmas tree every December, making it a must-see holiday destination. While you’re in the neighborhood take a tour of the United Nations and get a behind-the scenes look at the diplomacy in action at the global meeting place of the General Assembly and Security Council.
Midtown East is also home to some of the world's most well known department stores, including Lord & Taylor, Bergdorf Goodman and of course the original Saks Fifth Avenue. All those retailers have an extraordinary selection of upscale goods and are considered classic, can’t-go-wrong stops for any shopaholic. So take your time strolling through this quintessential region of Manhattan - explore those famous landmarks, have a stop for lunch, and then proceed to do a little upscale shopping.
Midtown East is an ideal neighborhood to spend your stay in New York, as the area is full of attractions and iconic landmarks. The beautiful, Art Deco styled Roosevelt Hotel is just four blocks from the Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall and within walking distance of Times Square and Museum of Modern Art. There's also the Grand Hyatt, which is located right near the United Nations and St. Patrick's Cathedral. The spacious and elegant Dylan Hotel, as well as the W New York – The Tuscany are other exceptional options. Click here for a complete list of hotels in close proximity to Midtown East.