Getting Around the City: NYC

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“There is no question that there is an unseen world. The problem is, how far is it from midtown and how late is it open?”
~ Woody Allen 

There are countless ways to spend a day in NYC, and the best thing of all is that everything is reachable by transit. Being able to take the subway from one end of Manhattan to the other – disappearing underground from the tree-lined avenues of Upper West Village to emerge right into the heart of Midtown Manhattan, cabs honking at you left and right as you run across the street with half a dozen other strangers – that was one of the things I loved most about the city.

Here are a few things I learned about transportation in the city:

A. Taking the Subway

a. Purchase the 7-day Ride Fare Card from one of the ticket offices in the main stations. Total price = $30. Or get a pay-as-you-go card, and fill it as necessary.

One Ride = $2.75

Tip: When you fill up the card, you can pay any amount. In order to avoid having an annoying balance of $2.74 (nooooo), check your balance, and if you just need 2 or 3 more rides the remainder of the trip, calculate how much that will be and then enter that exact amount.  

b. Get the subway app with real-time data that will display a route for you. This will alert you to closures and delays on routes. Oftentimes, certain lines will be closed on the weekends for construction or repairs, so it’s always best to know ahead of time if you’ll have to change your travel plans or take a different train.

c. When reading the map, pay attention to the letters and numbers beside each stop. Don’t use the colours, as this will be more confusing.

Black dots = local trains that stop at every stop

White dots = express trains

Tip: Don’t get stuck on the express train when you mean to take a local train. Make sure to read the letters and numbers of the trains at each stop. If the letter or number is listed, then the train stops there.

Uptown (North) – Bronx-bound or Queens-bound

(Numbers of the streets get higher)

Downtown (South) – Brooklyn-bound, or lower Manhattan

(Numbers on the streets get lower)

Tip: Be sure to choose the right platform: you may have to use the stair underpass to get to the platform on the other side

West side: 1,2,3 (red lines) A,B,C,D

East side: 4,5,6 (green lines)

History note: Lettered and numbered trains used to be two separate companies, the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company and the Interborough Rapid Transit Company. In 1940, the city bought both private systems, and while integration was slow, eventually the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was placed in control of all streetcar, subway, and bus operations.

B. A Guide to the Grid

a. In Manhattan, north of 14th St., the streets are laid out in a grid pattern. Numbered streets run east and west, and broad avenues run north (uptown) and south (downtown).

b. Broadway runs the entire length of Manhattan on a diagonal. But when you get to downtown Manhattan, there are East and West Broadway streets that are not related to Broadway, and this can be super confusing (even according to New Yorkers, so says my friend).

c. In the West Village, W. 4th intersects with W. 11th, so don’t get confused by the numbers.

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C. Getting to La Guardia Airport 

While this airport may be the absolute worst one in the States (and possibly even the entire world, as stated by a NYC friend),  getting to and from the airport is not as difficult as in some cities.

a. By Bus/Transit: Take the M60-MBS from the airport. The bus stops at major stations, including Penn Station, Grand Central, and 125 St. You can also take this bus to the airport, just leave pllleeeennnnttyyy of time for traffic, etc. etc.

b. By Lyft or Uber: Some Uber drivers don’t go to La Guardia because it’s just the worst, but my friend who lives in the city usually takes Lyft to and from the airport. It’s a bit cheaper, doesn’t have as much surge pricing as Uber, and so far, she’s found it to be very reliable.

c. By Car Service: I received a private car ride from the airport as a gift from some dear family friends. As my flight got in super late, I was infinitely grateful to not have to worry about figuring out public transportation or taking a Lyft when I got to the airport. The car service was wonderful, and it was really special to see the city all lit up at night driving in from Queens. It’s pricey, but if you want the most stress-free way to get into the city, I’d recommend this service.

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