So you have arrived and checked in to your suite at the Plaza, now what? First things first: you need to orient yourself. Lucky for you, New York City is mostly set up as a square grid, so if you can count, you won't get lost.


First, check out this map and see how grid-like the city is. The Avenues North-South, and most of the Avenues are numbered (with 1st Avenue being the farthest East and 10th Avenue being the farthest West). Fifth Avenue is in the center of the city and divides the East Side from the West Side (so 1st and 2nd Avenues are on the East side, while 7th and 8th are on the West Side). Of course, the city planners did have to throw in some names too, just to confuse people. So, to make your life a little easier, here are the Avenues in order from East to West:

  • East End
  • York
  • 1st
  • 2nd
  • 3rd
  • Lexington
  • Park
  • Madison
  • 5th
  • 6th (also called Avenue of the Americas)
  • 7th
  • 8th (also called Central Park West)
  • 9th (also called Columbus Avenue)
  • 10th (also called Amsterdam Avenue)
  • West End Avenue
  • Riverside Drive


Cutting across the avenues horizontally are the streets, which run East-West. The numbers of the streets go up as you go North, so 8th Street is downtown, 35th Street is in Midtown, and 94th Street is uptown.


To make matters a little more complicated, we throw Broadway into the mix. Broadway runs diagonally across the city, from the Lower East Side to the Upper West Side, cutting through our neat grid. The famous Times Square and Herald Square are both located at points where Broadway cuts through a major street (Herald Square is at the intersection of Broadway and 34th St.; Times Square is at the intersection of Broadway and 42nd St.).

Now that you know where you are in the city, how can you get your body to all the best places? As a rule of thumb, driving is out (because of traffic and parking trouble). Most New Yorkers rely on public transportation, taxis, or their own two feet to get them around. Be ready to do a lot of walking.

Public transportation

SUBWAYS: By far, the easiest and cheapest way to travel is to use NYC's comprehensive and mostly urine-free subways. Here's a map. Print it out in color and never let go of it. Although scary subway stories have become part of the Big Apple's lore, they are actually quite safe. As in every major city, there are some nasty people out there, so it's a bad idea to take the subway late at night by yourself, but if you use common sense, you'll be fine. On the map, you'll notice that there are some black dots and some white dots. The black dots indicate "local stops," and the white dots are "express stops." Express trains are much quicker, so they're great for going from one end of Manhattan to the other. So when you stand on a subway platform, always look for the sign that indicates which side is the Express and which side is the Local. The signs are all very clear as long as you read them carefully. Uptown trains go North and downtown trains go South.

BUSES: Buses also run up and down every Avenue, stopping either every 2 blocks if it is a local or every 5 to 10 blocks if it is an express. They also run East-West on the following streets: 8th, 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 50th, 57th, 66th, 72nd, 79th, 86th, and 96th.

The fare for a single bus or subway ride is $1.50. Buses accept cash (coins only) while both subways and buses accept Metrocards and tokens, which you can purchase in any subway station. Tokens, a must for the nostalgic purist, cost $1.50 each and are good for one ride only. The big perk of the Metrocard is that they allow you to transfer from a bus to a subway or vice versa at no additional cost (in case you need to take a bus and a subway to get to your location).

For maps and additional information, check out the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) site.

TAXIS: Yellow taxicabs flood the streets throughout the city 24 hours a day. The only tough times to catch one are right after a Broadway show lets out, or during a rainstorm. Otherwise, you should always be able to find one on just about any street. Just stick out your hand, and an empty cab will pick you up. Remember to tip roughly $1 for every $4-$5 charged.

WALKING: Even though the subways are clean and taxis are convenient, nothing beats your own two feet. Walking in the city is certainly easy and cost effective, but is also provides you with a real feel for the city. Because of the nifty grid system, it is actually very easy to calculate the distance of a walk from point A to point B.

The blocks between avenues (from 2nd Ave. to 3rd Ave., for example) are called long blocks. There are four long blocks in a mile. The blocks between streets (from 42nd St. to 43rd St., for example) are called short blocks. There are 20 short blocks per mile. If you estimate that it will take you 1 minute to walk a short block and 5 to walk a long block, you can figure out whether hoofing it will get you to your dinner reservation on time.