Midtown Manhattan Walking Tour (Self Guided), New York

Midtown Manhattan is the largest commercial, entertainment, and media center of the United States. The area is a home to some of NYC's most iconic landmarks, such as the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building, as well as the world-famous Rockefeller Center, Broadway, and Times Square. Check out this orientation walk and explore Midtown, NY for yourself!
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Midtown Manhattan Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Midtown Manhattan Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » New York (See other walking tours in New York)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.6 Km or 4.1 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Times Square
  • Majestic Theater
  • St. Malachy's Church
  • Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
  • St. Patrick's Cathedral
  • Rockefeller Center
  • Chrysler Building
  • Grand Central Terminal
  • New York Public Library
  • Bryant Park
  • Empire State Building
  • Madison Square Garden
Times Square

1) Times Square (must see)

Times Square is a major commercial intersection in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets. The theaters of Broadway and the huge number of animated neon and LED signs have long made them one of New York's iconic images, and a symbol of the intensely urban aspects of Manhattan. Times Square is the only neighborhood with zoning ordinances requiring building owners to display illuminated signs. The density of illuminated signs in Times Square now rivals that of Las Vegas. Officially, signs in Times Square are called "spectaculars", and the largest of them are called "jumbotrons." Times Square is the site of the annual New Year's Eve ball drop. On December 31, 1907, a ball signifying New Year's Day was first dropped at Times Square, and the Square has held the main New Year's celebration in New York City ever since.

Why You Should Visit:
If you like the buzz of the city that never sleeps then this is your place. Lots of people, neon signs, video screens; open 24/7...
The Broadway shows in the theater district and Restaurant Row on 47th Street make Times Square a great hub to go on adventures.

With so many people in a small space, watch your valuables!
The shops are the same as in other towns, so avoid those and look for the smaller places to visit.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Majestic Theater

2) Majestic Theater

One of the Great White Way Broadway theaters, the Majestic Theater is located on the 10 block line of playhouses in Manhattan. Through its history, it has been the venue for well known major musical productions.

The Majestic Theater forms part of a three theater complex. It was the largest among the three and one of the largest theaters in Broadway with 1655 seats. Architect Herbert J. Krapp was commissioned to design the building by Irwin Chanin of the Channin brothers. The facade of the structure has a Spanish Moorish style and the interior has a neo classical style of architecture. Chanin also wanted the interior to have a ‘democrat stadium plan’ and the balcony did not hang over the orchestra as in other theaters but over the lobby so that both classes of patrons entered the auditorium through the same entrance. The theater opened in 1927 with the production of Rufus Le Maire’s Affairs. During the Great Depression, the Channin Brothers sold Majestic Theater to the Shubert Brothers who still own the theater.

Majestic Theater has been the venue of well known musicals like Fanny, South Pacific and Camelot. The Phantom of the Opera opened at the theater in 1988 and had a run of 9,825 performances breaking all records in Broadway history.
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. Malachy's Church

3) St. Malachy's Church

The St. Malachy’s Church is better known in New York City as the Actor’s church. The theater district moved into the area in the year it was built and it became the place of worship of several well known actors and dancers till the 1960s.

The St. Malachy’s Catholic Church was built in 1920 based on the plans of well known ecclesiastical architect, Thomas J, Duff. An Actor’s Chapel was built under the main church where members of the theatrical community worshiped. It was also the venue of weddings and funerals of famous actors and dancers. Rev George Washington Moore who took over in 1976 was the most active among pastors of the church and he extended the services of the church to help the poor, the elderly and the homeless. He was given a Tony award for services to the parish. The church chimes play, ‘There’s no business like show business’ in honor of the many distinguished theatrical parishioners who worshiped at its pews.

Famous members of the congregation include Bob Hope, Ricardo Montalban, Rosalind Russell, Irene Dunne and Gregory Peck. Ceremonies of theatrical personalities that took place here include the marriage of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Joan Crawford, the funeral of Rudolf Valentino and the baptism of Herb Shriner’s children.

Today the church offers community services called Encore to help the elderly residents of the parish. In 1991 extensive repairs were carried out to make it a comfortable and beautiful place to worship.
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

4) Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) (must see)

Well known as the most influential museum of modern art in the world, this museum is a storehouse of the finest Western modern masterpieces. It also has an impressive library with over 300,000 books.

In 1929, three wealthy ladies rented space in the Heckscher Building in 5th avenue and established the first Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Later, the husband of Abbey Aldrich Rockefeller, one of the ladies, donated the land and gave the funds to build the present structure. Her sons commissioned landscape architect Philip Johnson to redesign the area around the museum as the Abbey Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden in honor of their mother.

Today, the museum has the largest collection of artwork from the year 1880 to the present. It has works of architecture and sculpture (including a valuable sculpture of a goat by Picasso in the patio), drawings, paintings, photography, prints, and electronic media depictions. Works of great modernist masters like Van Gogh, Matisse and Picasso are displayed in its vast halls.

The Museum of Modern Art also holds temporary exhibitions of innovative art styles and showcases some of the most revolutionary art expressions of our time.

Why You Should Visit:
Perhaps the finest collections of modern art in the world! And outside, in the gardens, you can lose yourself and escape the noise and bustle of the city.

Make sure to visit the MoMA design store across the street which has an amazing array of interesting and innovative industrial design products.

Operation Hours:
Sat-Thu: 10:30am-5:30pm; Fri: 10:30am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. Patrick's Cathedral

5) St. Patrick's Cathedral (must see)

The St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. It is located directly opposite the Rockefeller Center and has over 3 million visitors every year.

The St. Patrick’s Cathedral is built of brick covered with white marble. The stones were quarried in New York and Massachusetts. It is the largest Gothic style church in the country. The present structure replaced an old St. Patrick’s Cathedral that is now used as a parish church. The Archdiocese of New York was created by Pope Pius IX in 1850. American architect James Renwick designed the building as the seat of the Archbishop in decorated geometric ecclesiastic Gothic style, popular in Europe between 1275 and 1400. Construction began in 1858 but stopped during the Civil War. Work resumed in 1865, the cathedral was completed in 1878 and dedicated in 1879. It has stained glass windows from France and England as well as the Great Rose Window that was the finest work of American stained glass artist Charles Connick and three magnificent organs.

The cathedral holds daily masses and visitors can use a pamphlet available at the back of the church to take a self-guided tour. There is a gift shop selling books and religious items and visitors can check the schedule to attend one of the organ concerts frequently performed at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Why You Should Visit:
Step into another world and revel in the atmosphere inside this historic building. Now that all of the renovations are complete you get to enjoy the full beauty of the architecture.

If possible, try to attend a daily Mass with impressive organ music and solo vocalist.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7am-8:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Rockefeller Center

6) Rockefeller Center (must see)

This large complex of commercial buildings lies between 5th and 7th Avenues in New York City. It is often described as a city within a city because of its unique design. All the buildings have a common plan and are connected by an underground concourse called The Catacombs.

D. Rockefeller Jr. leased the site to build a new structure for the New York Metropolitan Opera. Architect Benjamin Wistar Morris designed the complex to include a large opera house, landscaped gardens, office space shops and terraces connected by bridges and walkways. After the Great Depression, the Metropolitan Opera abandoned its plans for relocation and Rockefeller changed the design of the structure making it suitable for housing radio and television corporations. It was the first high rise commercial complex to be completed during the Great Depression. The first building to be completed was the headquarters of the Radio Corporation of America, RCA. It has an observation deck with spectacular views of Central Park and Empire State Building. The style was similar to that of a ship with deck chairs and ventilation pipes shaped like chimneys. It was completely remodeled in 2005 and reopened as a new art deco style deck called the Top of the Rock. The Christmas tree lighting ceremony held every year since 1933 marks the beginning of the festival season in New York.

Guided tours take visitors around the complex and through the many art deco interiors, frescoes and sculpture that adorn its interiors and exterior.

Why You Should Visit:
This place is full of energy with laser lights and has the biggest Xmas tree in NYC during the holidays. There's also a wonderful food court inside with a great selection of various foods.
The view from Top of the Rock is great with 360-degree vistas. Nice views of Central Park and many famous buildings, too.

If you're going up to the Top of the Rock, book your ticket online to avoid the lines.
Alternately, you can save the price of the observation deck and grab a cocktail at the Top of the Rock (it's on the 65th floor and has spectacular city views).

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-12am
Sight description based on wikipedia
Chrysler Building

7) Chrysler Building (must see)

For 11 months before the completion of the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building enjoyed the status of being the tallest skyscraper in the world. Built in art deco style, it is regarded by many well known contemporary architects as the most beautiful structure in New York City.

Walter P. Chrysler, the automobile magnate commissioned architect, William Van Alen to design the building in 1928. The structure was built at a furious pace of four floors a week. Despite the haste, it was completed without incident or accident. Chrysler planned to make the skyscraper, the headquarters for his company and the ornamentation in the lower floors has steel automobile parts. The design is art deco with gradually decreasing steel arches studded with triangular windows. The structure is the highest steel-supported brick building in the world. It is 319 meters high and has 77 floors topped by a 38-meter spire. At first, there was a viewing gallery on the 71st floor that was later closed in 1945. The marble-clad lobby has a mural in the ceiling showing an automobile assembly line.

The Chrysler Building remains the best-loved skyscraper in New York City. It got the 9th place in a survey of the Favorite Architectural Memories in the US, ahead of many well-known landmarks like the now destroyed WTC. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

Why You Should Visit:
Art-deco icon that looks good from any position of view, but well worth a detour to take a close look.

Just walk into the lobby to see the beautiful walls and floor. The ceiling is a unique work of art.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Grand Central Terminal

8) Grand Central Terminal (must see)

The New York Central Railroad built this large railway station when long-distance passenger trains were the most popular mode of transport in the U.S. It is the largest train station in the world with 44 platforms and 67 tracks running beside them.

Cornelius Vanderbilt commissioned architect John B. Snook to build the largest railway station in the world and it was opened to the public in 1871. It was remodeled in 1913 and got its name, the Grand Central Terminal. The station is housed in a Beaux-Arts style building and the 67 railway tracks are on two levels. The ornate building has Corinthian columns and grand staircases. The ceiling on the top level has a beautiful blue fresco decorated with gold constellations by French artist, Paul Hellou. The lower level has a restaurant called the Oyster Bar. The Oyster bar has vaulted ceilings with terracotta Gustavino tiles that form the support for the vaults.

In 1994, Grand Central Terminal was remodeled again with lower ceilings and space for a retail mall and food court. It is now not only a transportation hub but an important tourist destination for visitors to New York City.

Why You Should Visit:
A great attraction to visit when the weather is wet, as it is mostly indoors. Awesome in size and lots of interesting details to look at.
Loads of eateries and quaint shops in between the commuters and trains – go experience it!

Oyster Bar on the lower level offers a huge selection of both oysters and other fine plates of seafood.
Don't forget to go visit the Whispering Gallery just outside Oyster Bar. Stand in opposite corners and you can clearly hear the person opposite. Great fun!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 5:30am-2am
Sight description based on wikipedia
New York Public Library

9) New York Public Library

The New York Public Library (NYPL) is a public library system in New York City. With nearly 53 million items, the New York Public Library is the second largest public library in the United States (and third largest in the world), behind only the Library of Congress. It is an independently managed, nonprofit corporation operating with both private and public financing. The library has branches in the boroughs of Manhattan, The Bronx and Staten Island and it has affiliations with academic and professional libraries in the metropolitan area of New York State. The branch libraries are open to the general public and consist of research libraries and circulating libraries. The library has many first editions and important documents among its treasures.

The main building of the New York Public Library is designed based on a rough sketch by its best known librarian, Dr. John Shaw Billings. His idea was a large reading room at the top with seven floors of book stacks and stairs that would make one of the swiftest book delivery systems in the world. The plan was formulated by architects Carrere and Hastings in a Beaux Arts style. The site chosen was a redundant reservoir and workers spent two years dismantling it and preparing the site to make it suitable for building a library. It originated in the 19th century, and its founding and roots are the amalgamation of grass-roots libraries, social libraries of bibliophiles and the wealthy, and from philanthropy of the wealthiest Americans of their age. Construction began in 1902 and the library opened its doors in 1911. At the time it was the largest marble clad building in the U.S. On the date of its dedication it had over a million books. There are two docent led daily tours around the library and entrance is free of charge.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Bryant Park

10) Bryant Park

Bryant Park is an 8 acre green space located in front of the New York Public Library. It lies in the heart of the city and offers spectacular views of towering skyscrapers. It is a place where New Yorkers come to have lunch, rest or enjoy events.

The first park at the site was called Reservoir Square after the adjacent Croton distributing reservoir. The square was the scene of the New York Draft Riots of July 1863 during the American Civil War. In 1884, it was named Bryant Park after New York Evening Post editor and abolitionist William Cullen Bryant. His statue occupies a prominent place in the Park. In 1969, a large demonstration seeking to end the Vietnam War took place in the venue. The 70s saw the park suffer neglect and it became a haven for drug dealers and the homeless. In 1988, the privately funded Bryant Park Restoration Corporation took over the restoration of the park making it a safe and beautiful venue for rest and recreation in the heart of the city.

Today the park is an oasis amidst the city bustle for office workers and visitors. There are movable chairs, chess tables and café’s. It hosts fashion shows, a summer film festival and becomes a popular ice skating rink in winter. Well known skyscrapers that tower over Bryant Park are the W.R. Grace building, the Bank of America building and the Bryant Park Hotel.
Empire State Building

11) Empire State Building (must see)

For 40 years, the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world until 1972 when it lost the title to the World Trade Towers. After the September 11th, 2001 attack on the WTC, it became the tallest building in New York City once again.

The Empire State Building was designed by William Frederick Lamb of the Shreve, Lamb and Harmon architectural firm. It has a simple art deco design typical of high rise structures in Pre World War II, New York. The simplicity was dictated by budget constraints, the time limit for construction and the city zoning laws. 3400 workers helped to construct the building including immigrant European workers and Mohawk metal workers from reserves in Canada. It was completed in one year and 45 days. When it opened its doors in 1931, it was declared one of the seven wonders of the modern world by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Empire State building has 102 floors and stands at a height of 1,250 feet. It became a designated Historical Landmark in 1986. It was the last skyscrapers to be built before the Great Depression adversely affected the real estate market. From the date of its inauguration until present, it remains an iconic part of New York City.

Why You Should Visit:
The views on a clear day or evening are breathtaking. If you aren't afraid of heights, you should definitely buy a ticket to the 86th-floor observatory or the 102nd floor (for a little extra) to get a spectacular 360-degree view that is centrally located. It's an open deck, so great for pictures, and with binoculars (mounted there) you can look at places around!

Check the weather forecast before you visit. If it isn't a clear day, DO NOT GO.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-2am
Sight description based on wikipedia
Madison Square Garden

12) Madison Square Garden (must see)

One of the most famous event venues in the world, Madison Square Garden is a large indoor arena that hosts sporting events, music performances and has a large indoor theater. It also has an expo center for trade shows and car shows, two cafes and a 9,500 feet terrace.

The Madison Square Garden was built in 1968 on the site of the demolished Pennsylvania Railway Station. The structure was the first to be built on the platforms of a railway station. It was a masterpiece in design by the Texas-based architect, Robert E. McKee.

Today, the auditorium hosts over 320 events each year. It is the longest active sporting facility in New York City and hosts basketball, ice hockey, and boxing events. It is the third biggest music arena in the world based on the number of tickets sold each year and has hosted performances of some of the best-known singers and musicians through its history. The theater at the stadium can seat 2000 to 5600 spectators and has an 8000 square foot lobby. It is also the venue for graduation ceremonies and music award ceremonies.

Viewing an event at the Madison Square Garden gives visitors the dual experience of enjoying the event while taking in the atmosphere of one among the biggest indoor stadiums in the world.

Why You Should Visit:
Great arena with great amenities; a magnet for sports fans and live show aficionados alike.
It boasts an amazing bowl-like arena that provides great viewing and good acoustics for whatever event you choose to attend.

Go to the Madison Square website and check what events are taking place during your visit!
The tour is very interesting, but make sure there are no events scheduled for the day you want to take it, because it may not be offered.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in New York, New York

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Best of Lower Manhattan Walking Tour

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New York's Top Museums Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.4 Km or 4 Miles
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Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles
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Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.3 Km or 4.5 Miles

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