Manhattan Streets: By Name, Number & Geometry (A Handy Guide)
Posted on October 17, 2016

Picture of Compass & MapIn this week's blog, a veteran Manhattan-based Real Estate Broker tells us some of the fancy little memory tricks he uses to navigate around NYC. 

As I tell almost everyone I meet, one of the main jobs of a real estate broker is to spend tons of time digging deep into buildings and neighborhoods so that our clients don’t have to spend all of theirs doing the same.

Even though so much in real estate has migrated online, the nitty-gritty of finding affordable apartments to rent in NYC still very much requires pounding the pavement on a daily basis to see what’s really going on. Whether you’re looking for a Washington Heights apartment Upper West Side Condos & Neighborhoodrental or an Upper West Side apartment for sale, you’ll still need to step in and have a look with your own eyes - and that means you need to know how to get there.

Thankfully, Manhattan has one of the most generally logical grid-based systems in the country. We often can avoid confusion by referring directly to the intersection of two numbers (122nd and 5th, for example), and everyone knows exactly where you’re talking about.

Most people blissfully go through their lives in NYC, though, not thinking about some of the little details that can make their navigation easier than it’s ever been. Here are a few random facts and mnemonics I use all the time when making my way through the greatest city in the world:

Rockefeller Center on 5th Avenue5th Avenue is the spine of Manhattan!

- Every address to the EAST of 5th is “East XXth Street”, and everything to the WEST of 5th is “West XXth Street”

- Street numbering starts from 1 and goes up in either direction, generally increasing by 100 every avenue block (the lower the number, the closer to 5th!) so you can tell how far east or west you are.

- The numbering bulbs out at Central Park...building numbers in the Upper West Side start at Central Park West from 1 and go up from there. This also means that the far west street numbers only go up to the West 300’s in the UWS, while the can go up to the West 800’s in Washington Heights and Inwood (where there are no east streets)!

There are some names on Harlem avenues that make them harder to remember by number (I swear this is actually what I do, so bear with me even if you think it’s silly)...here’s how I do it:

6th (Sixth) Avenue, aka Lenox Avenue, aka Malcolm X Boulevard
I just remember that they all involve an “X”, so whenever I think of them, I know that they are the same thing.

7th Avenue, aka Adam Clayton Powell BoulevardOkay, stay with me on this...it requires that you think of the fully capitalized POWELL that you’d see on a street sign. The defining part of that name for me is the double ‘L’ at the end (LL)...I flip that around and I get two ‘7’s (LL=77)...and there’s your 7th Avenue.

Frederick Douglass Street Sign8th Avenue, aka Frederick Douglass Boulevard
Once again, I’m relying on my visual cues here. The prominent double ‘S’ in DOUGLASS is the part I remember the most. If I were to flip one and combine them, they’d make an 8 (SS=8) for 8th Avenue.

Fun fact…
Broadway, from 14th Street to 72nd Street, runs diagonally and the triangles it creates are some of Manhattan’s most famous “squares” (and a circle):

Picture of Columbus Circle- Union Square (14th)

- Madison Square (23rd)

- Herald Square (34th)

- Times Square (42nd)

- Columbus Circle (59th)

- Richard Tucker Square (66th)

- Verdi Square (72nd)

Hope this helps, and now I toast to a crisp autumn - full of love, life, and good walks without getting lost!