Getting Into Manhattan
Getting to the Museum and the Upper West Side of Manhattan will likely involve a few systems of transportation in the metropolitan area. We recommend taking public transportation within New York City—it's the cheapest way to get around the city, and is often the quickest. A more thorough description may be found on Wikitravel.
NYC is served by three airports: John F. Kennedy (JFK), LaGuardia (LGA), and Newark Liberty (EWR). LaGuardia is the closest, but there is no train service (only bus). JFK has a multitude of train options, while Newark has a stop on New Jersey Transit and Amtrak which will bring you to New York's Pennsylvania Station.
Perhaps the easiest way to travel from any airport to your destination is by taxi. It is also the most expensive, particularly from Newark Liberty. Take a yellow cab from the airport, do not accept rides from people who approach you. Find the taxi stand and get in line (the lines can sometimes be long). Current taxi rates
From JFK Airport:
- Taxi: flat fare to any destination in Manhattan, plus tip and tolls.
- Train: Take the AirTrain to Jamaica (as opposed to the Howard Beach AirTrain). From there, take either (a) the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) to Penn Station, then the uptown C train to 81st Street, or (b) take the Manhattan-bound E Train to 42nd Street, then transfer (up the stairs and downstairs to the opposite platform) to the uptown C Train to 81st Street.
- Shuttle: see below.
- Taxi: the easiest way to Manhattan. No flat fare, driver should use the meter, and tolls and tip are additional.
- Bus to Subway: Take the M60 bus into Manhattan. Get off either at (a) 125th Street and St. Nicholas (Harlem) and take the downtown C Train to 81st Street, or (b) get off at 116th Street and Broadway (Columbia University) and take the downtown 1 Train to 79th Street.
- Shuttle: see below.
- Taxi: No flat fare, trips can be very expensive, plus tolls and tip.
- Train: Take the AirTrain to New Jersey Transit/Amtrak Station. Take NJ Transit (Northeast Corridor Line) to Penn Station New York (do not get off at Penn Station Newark). At New York's Penn Station, take the uptown C Train to 81st Street, or take a taxi from there if you like.
- Shuttle: see below.
These companies offer services from the three airports and typically drop passengers either at your hotel or at designated points in Manhattan. For the latter, choose Penn Station or the Port Authority as your destination, then take the uptown C Train to 81 Street (Grand Central is not as convenient).
- Super Shuttle: Shared van service to your hotel.
- Go Airlink: Shared van service to your hotel.
- New York Airport Service: Bus service to Penn Station or the Port Authority.
- NYC Airporter: Bus service from JFK or LaGuardia to Penn Station or the Port Authority.
You'll most likely arrive at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, although nowadays the discount bus companies seem to use any old corner to drop people. From the Port Authority, take the uptown C Train to 81st Street.
If you must drive into NYC, use a map or GPS to get you to the Museum. Expect to pay dearly for parking.
Getting Around Manhattan
The NYC Subway is an extensive and efficient system of 24 local and express trains (map). It runs 24 hours, and is used by 6 million people every day. It can occasionally be temperamental (closures, construction, local trains become express, etc.), but it is the best transportation system in the U.S. (It is not the cleanest system, but it is the best.)
The Upper West Side is served by the 1, 2, 3, B, and C Trains. The 1,2,3 Trains (7 Av/Broadway Line) travel under Broadway, while the B and C Trains (8 Av/Central Park West Line) travel under Central Park West.
The key things to understand before you take the subway are:
- Uptown or Downtown? When in Manhattan, uptown refers to increasing street numbers (79th to 96th, for example). For trains that travel outside of Manhattan, you may see Brooklyn-bound (downtown from AMNH), Queens-bound (downtown), or Bronx-bound (uptown from AMNH). Look for "Downtown Only" or "Uptown Only" on the street-level entrance signs. If there is no indication, then you can reach either platform from that stairwell.
- Express or Local? The only express stops in the neighborhood are the 72nd and 96th Streets stops on the 7 Av/Broadway Line (1,2,3 Trains). There are no express stops on the 8 Av/Central Park West Line between 59th and 125th Streets (which is where the A and D express trains stop).
- Maps are free at token booths.
- How to ride the subway
- NYC Subway Map
Manhattanites generally only take the bus when there is no subway in the area. On the Upper West Side, the busiest buses are the crosstown routes, which go from the Upper West to the Upper East Side across Central Park.
Walking is by far the best way to get around the city. It's virtually impossible to get lost due to the numbering system on the street names.
The numbered streets run north-south on the skewed grid, while the avenues run east-west. Streets make up blocks, 12 blocks per km (20 per mile), and you can walk one in about a minute or two.
Avenues run from 1st Ave on the East River to 12 Ave on the Hudson River. Blocks along avenues are called "long blocks" and are about 0.3 km long (or 0.17 miles). On the Upper West Side (above 59th Street), the avenues were renamed from their original numbered names (8 Av, 9 Av, 10 Av, and 11 Av) to more bucolic names (Central Park West, Columbus Av, Amsterdam Av, and West End Av, respectively). Weaving through them is Broadway, and Riverside Drive is to the west.
There are approximately 12,000 yellow taxis on the streets of NYC. They are ubiquitous at any hour, though an empty one can be hard to find sometimes, particularly in the rain. A cab is empty only when the top light with its number is illuminated. The "off duty" light is also on the top on either side of the number, which technically means the cab is not picking up fares. The maximum number of people for a standard sedan is 4 people. The driver should always use the meter (except for a trip to JFK Airport). Fares do not include tolls or tip. Do not hesitate to ask your diver to slow down if you feel unsafe.