Travel in NYC
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 east-west on the skewed grid, while the avenues run north-south. 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 runs along the Hudson River to the west.
- Pedestrian Basics
- Bring comfortable shoes!
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.