Neighborhoods

 

Midtown East

Midtown East Much like Midtown West, the east side of Midtown is generally filled with business people during the day. And though this Manhattan district encompasses one of the central commuting centers, it is considerably more subdued come nightfall. Those who are looking for a less hectic version of the Midtown scene would do well to cast a careful eye at Midtown East. Every morning, the main concourse of Grand Central Station is the first sight that out-of-town commuters glance of the city. And what a sight it is. The recently renovated, 12-story ceiling painted with the constellations of the zodiac gives the concourse an open, airy feel. For people about to head into a cramped corner office or cubicle, this may be the most personal space they'll be able to experience all day. Since Grand Central happens to fall directly in the path of Park Avenue, the storied street has been forced to make a detour around the building. Park is elevated to the second story before it reaches 42nd, splits to go around the Station, then reconnects after first passing through the Met Life Building. This is one instance in Midtown where it's nice to have a car. Many of Grand Central's commuters might well be heading to the nearby Chrysler Building. Like many skyscrapers in Manhattan, this Art Deco masterpiece briefly held the title of the city's tallest building. The plans for its glittering spire were kept so secret that most people didn't know of it until it was raised through the roof! Just before 42nd Street reaches the East River, it intersects with a small thoroughfare called Tudor City Place. The eponymous apartment complex located here is notable for their large panes of stained glass. To spare their occupants the unseemly sights going on along the East River, some of these buildings were built without any windows on their east side. Those builders are probably kicking themselves now. The most notable change between the construction of Tudor City and the present is the presence of the United Nations Headquarters. This 18-acre plot that hugs the East River is comprised of the Secretariat and General Assembly buildings, and a rose garden that practically begs to be strolled through. From September through December, all the leaders of the free world meet in the General Assembly Building. Surprisingly, general admission tickets are made available to these open sessions the day they are scheduled to occur. You might also want to note that once you step onto the Plaza grounds, you have technically left the United States and entered the jurisdiction of the U.N. members. A headquarters of a different sort is St. Patrick's Cathedral. Located on Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets, St. Patrick's serves as the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. The Gothic structure also happens to be the largest Catholic Cathedral in America. If you feel you've been paying too much attention to the needs of Mammon, a half-hour here should help you find your spiritual center. When the workday is done, Midtown East slows its hectic pace considerably. With Midtown West only blocks away, its possible to have all the nighttime excitement of the city without having to worry about it being right under where you live.