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What to Do in Midtown East

November 1, 2018 - by City Guide
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New York's city center is called Midtown, the site of the most famous skyscrapers in the world and a multitude of must-see destinations. Midtown East, which starts on Fifth Avenue and continues to the East River, extends from East 34th Street to 59th Street. Mix and mingle with the white-collar workers teeming through Grand Central at rush hour, drink in the Deco masterpiece of the Chrysler Building, and shop the stores on Fifth Avenue for an unforgettable New York experience. 

Midtown East is characterized by an intense work culture, as the skyscrapers filling the area house endless offices and storefronts. Commuters funnel through the magnificent Grand Central Terminal, the world's most famous train station. It's also a midtown destination for shopping, dining, public events, and audio tours in many languages. 

Grand Central is steps away from the Chrysler Building, which, while not open to the public, remains the one of the world's finest examples of 1930s Art Deco architecture and the sixth-tallest building in the city. Walk east on 42nd Street to Lexington Avenue, where you'll find the 56-story Chanin Building, also typifying the Art Deco style.

The United Nations headquarters, built in 1949-50, sits all the way on the East River at 42nd Street. The international organization for peace and security is available to tour, seven days a week. Near the U.N. is one of the city's finest examples of 1960s architecture, the steel-and-glass Ford Foundation Building. The building's one-of-a-kind lobby contains an indoor semi-tropical garden with a lily pond. This lobby garden is open to the public.  

Beautiful churches are also found in this area, including St. Patrick's CathedralSt. Bartholomew's Church, and St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral. St. Patrick's, located near Rockefeller Center on Fifth Avenue, draws crowds to behold its Neo-Gothic interiors and observe Catholic mass. The structure first opened in 1879 and is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. 

A short walk from Grand Central is the Morgan Library & MuseumThe Morgan is housed in the exquisite private library of historic financier J.P. Morgan. Converted into a museum, the Morgan's permanent collection includes works by Rembrandt, Picasso, Dickens, and Hemingway, as well as three Gutenberg Bibles.

Other cultural institutions in Midtown East include the Museum of SexJapan Society, and Scandinavia House

The top reason to visit Midtown East is the most famous shopping corridor in the world: Fifth Avenue. From 42nd Street to 59th Street, Fifth Avenue has days and days' worth of shopping and spectacular window displays during the winter holidays.

Some high points include legendary department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. Other stores include Zara, Topshop, and H&M. On Lexington Avenue, another powerhouse department store delivers fashion with stellar service: Bloomingdales.

One of the newer attractions in the area is the Premier 57 Spa. This enormous spa includes indoor/outdoor hydrotherapy, saunas, and a swim-up Aqua Bar. 

Premier 57 Spa
Premier 57 Spa

Gramercy Park is located south of Midtown East, between 21st and 23rd Streets and bordered by Park Avenue South and Third Avenue. It's best known for its small, fenced park, the last private park in the city and accessible only to residents of surrounding buildings. Click here for more information on the history of Gramercy Park.

Murray Hill is another residential neighborhood from 29th to 42nd Streets, bordered by Second and Fifth Avenues. The area around Lexington Avenue and 28th Street is known for its high concentration of Indian restaurants.

Check out our neighborhood guides of nearby areas like Midtown West, home to the Empire State Building, and The Upper East Side

Dining in Midtown East quick links: Benjamin SteakhouseDarbar, Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse, Morton's The SteakhouseThe Sea Fire Grill.

Shopping in Midtown East quick links: DataVision (electronics), Harley-Davidson of New YorkMidtown Comics, Schumer's Wines & Liquors.

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Contributor: Merrill Lee Girardeau

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