New York Travel Tips
New York Streets
The map of Manhattan is, for the most part, easy to follow: north of 14th Street, streets are laid out in a numbered grid pattern. Numbered streets run east and west (crosstown), and broad avenues, most of them also numbered, run north (uptown) and south (downtown). The main exception is Broadway, which runs the entire length of Manhattan on a diagonal. Below 14th Street, street patterns get chaotic. In the West Village, West 4th Street intersects West 11th Street, Greenwich Street runs roughly parallel to Greenwich Avenue, and Leroy Street turns into St. Luke’s Place for one block and then becomes Leroy again. There’s an East Broadway and a West Broadway, both of which run north-south, and neither of which is an extension of Broadway, leaving even locals scratching their heads.
Avoid deserted blocks in unfamiliar neighborhoods. A brisk, purposeful pace helps deter trouble wherever you go. New York City is a safe city, but it’s still a city, so keep jewelry out of sight on the street; better yet, leave valuables at home. Don’t wear gold chains or large jewelry, even if it’s fake.
When in bars or restaurants, never hang your purse or bag on the back of a chair or put it underneath the table.
Never leave any bags unattended, and expect to have yourself and your possessions inspected thoroughly in such places as airports, sports stadiums, museums, and city buildings. Police officers stationed by subway-token booths also reserve the right to check your bags before you pass through the turnstile to enter the platform.
Politely ignore panhandlers on the streets and subways, people who offer to hail you a cab (they often appear at Penn Station, the Port Authority, or the airport), and limousine and gypsy-cab drivers who (illegally) offer rides priced according to how desperate you look.
Knockoff wristwatches will keep excellent time until you’re about an hour away from the vendor, so don’t bother with them; ditto for pirated DVDs. Trust us, they work poorly and, not for nothing, their sale is highly illegal.
If you wander into a cold snap, do as the locals do and buy an inexpensive hat or scarf from a sidewalk vendor. Similarly, if it rains, scan the mouths of subway stairwells for umbrella salesmen who materialize so quickly, you’ll think the raindrops hydrated them into existence.
Save your money and time
Consider buying a CityPass, a group of tickets to six top-notch attractions in New York: the Empire State Building, the Guggenheim Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (including the Cloisters), and Circle Line Cruises or admission to Liberty and Ellis islands. The $79 pass, which saves you half the cost of each individual ticket, is good for nine days from first use.
Discount coupons are available at the city’s official tourism marketing bureau, NYC & Company (www.nycvisit.com), near Times Square.