Feeling lost in the big city? Lots of people do; coming from someone who’s lived her whole life in the Midwest, navigating the streets of Manhattan can be confusing. But there are a few tips and guidelines that I’ve picked up from friends and coworkers that have made all the difference!
- Queens and Bronx are uptown. Brooklyn is downtown. Even if a train/platform doesn’t specify if a train is uptown/downtown or Queens/Bronx/Brooklyn bound, the borough the train is going towards will always indicate the direction the train is going in. For example, if a platform/train says “to Queens,” this is an uptown train, regardless of whether or not the platform/train also says “uptown,” and vice versa.
- The subway platform sign will always tell you whether the trains arriving at that platform are going uptown or downtown; ie. a downtown train will never arrive at a platform when the sign says uptown.
- If you do accidentally get on a train going in the wrong direction, you can always get off at the next station and take the next train in the direction that you came from. For example, if you want to take the N line from 34th and Herald Square to go to Union Square Park, you’ll need a downtown/Brooklyn bound N train. If you accidentally get on an uptown/Queens bound N train, you can get off that train at the next station and look for the next downtown bound N train, which will send you in the right direction!
- Be aware of signs telling you if certain lines will be down at certain times. I’ve been late to work twice because I haven’t paid attention to posters saying when my train was being worked on!
- Avenues run north to south. Streets run east to west. When you go uptown, the street numbers will increase (like you’re going up an elevator), and will go down when you’re going downtown.
- When in doubt, remember these wise words from American National Treasure, John Mulaney: “Lost in New York? How’d you get lost in New York? The streets are numbered!” The best part about walking in New York is that it’s designed on a grid system. It’s hard to miss a street or a turn when the only thing you need to pay attention to is the numbers! So, if you’re at 8th and 34th, and need to go to 6th and 24th, you’ll go over 2 blocks and down 10.
- New Yorkers are pretty aggressive when it comes to jaywalking and driving. If a car is far enough away, New Yorkers will cross the street, whether or not the light says they can, and whether or not a 2 ton killing machine is barreling toward them. On the flip side, a car that has right of way when turning, even if the light is permitting people to cross, will begin to turn regardless of whether there are people crossing. Don’t be reckless when crossing the street, but do be aware that you’ll need to be a little aggressive too.
- Get your city walk down. New Yorkers are busy people, with places to go and people to see. Pay attention to where you’re walking, or who you might be accidentally walking into.
Taxis and Ubers:
- Typically, I'd recommend staying away from taxis and Ubers as much as possible. Out-of-towners seem to be very afraid of the subway and NYC public transportation when it comes to safety. Still, if you Uber everywhere you go, the money starts to pile up. The subway is so cheap, and everyone uses the subway: mothers with strollers, kids on their way to school, tourists and locals alike.
- Sometimes, though, walking to a certain place will take too much time, but taking a subway would take just as much time. When subways and walking become impractical, it's worth it to just take a car to wherever you’re going.
- For me, Uber and Lyft have been the most helpful, since there’s no guarantee that a taxi is going to be in your area at the time that you need it. Plus, you can see on your app the exact route that your driver is using; once you become more of a seasoned New Yorker, you’ll be able to tell if a driver is ripping you off, going off course, or is taking you somewhere else.
By: Natali Cavanagh