Manhattan's Avenues: Park Avenue

Manhattan Travel Blog

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AVENUE FACTS
Name: Park Avenue
Alternative names: Fourth Avenue, Union Square East
Traffic direction: Bi-directional (northern part North->South)
Length: 6.2 mile / 9.9 km *
North-boundary: W135th St / FDR
South-boundary: 14th St *
Number of cross streets: 118 *
Avenue number towards 89th St.: 8
Specifics: Union Square, Grand Central Station, Broad and divided avenue, train tunnel and train viaduct
* Excluding the 4th Ave leg. See here.
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For those who do not read Dutch: I have set a goal for myself to hike all the Manhattan avenues that intersect with 89th Street.

Viewing towards the north
South-> North or the other way around depending on the lighting.

It has been quite a while since I last hiked an Avenue. Ninth Avenue was hiked in September last year, more than half year ago! Shame on me! So, today, with nice weather, I chose to hike Park Avenue, finishing a hike I started in May 2009 by hiking Fourth Avenue. I never realized that Park Avenue used to be called Fourth Avenue.

The reason for the name change is the following historic fact: the part between Union Square and 42nd Street once housed the tracks of the "New York and Harlem Railroad". Between 34th Street and 40th street the tracks ran in an open cut through which was later covered with grass, creating a long small stretch of "park".

Grand Central Station, Grand Hyatt Hotel, and Chrysler Building
Because of this, a part of Fourth Avenue was renamed to Park Avenue in 1860 and later extended towards 42nd Street. In May 1959 the City Council voted 20-1 to change the name of the part of Fourth Avenue north of 14th Street to Park Avenue as well. After Grand Central Station opened the rails north of 42nd street were also covered and won't appear until 97th street. A part of the old railroad tunnel south of 42nd Street is nowadays used for car traffic.

I started where I had stopped on my initial Fourth Avenue Hike, at 14th Street. The avenue is called Park Avenue South here. The avenue feels narrow due to the high buildings here. The name "Fourth Ave Building" for one of the old buildings is a nice reference to the past. At E33rd Street the entrance of the car tunnel to 46th Street appears.

North of Grand Central Park Avenue has a wide and open feeling
And at 40th Street the cars can go up on the ramp to Grand Central station, that blocks any pedestrian access. In order to make my way to the Grand Central ramp I had to take a detour through the Grand Hyatt Hotel. I found myself face to face with a statue of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the same place where Robert Neville (Will Smith) in the 2007 movie "I am Legend" was captured by the creatures.

I bypassed the Central Station section via Vanderbilt Avenue, passing the ugly MetLife Building, and picked up Park Avenue at E46th Street. This new part of Park Avenue is wide and open. Several fancy organizations, like Ferrari, are located here. One finds here also the famous Waldorf Astoria hotel.

This year Park Avenue offers more flowers than any other year.

The stone wall elevated part has a tunnel at each cross street. Here 102nd Street
That is due to the installation of artist Will Ryman. His work, "winter roses" is located between 57th and 67th streets, and shows 25 feet (8 meter) high epoxy roses, compete with huge bugs. Very special!

At 97th Street the carefully hidden 4 railroad tracks surface from their tunnels and rise up to an elevated track that is running on the remainder of Manhattan. The track divides Park Avenue and, unfortunately, transforms the avenue from a grand avenue into a creepy back alley. At some points the elevated track runs on a solid stone wall, at other places the track is on metal pillars that offer space to parking lots, garbage truck lots and shops.

At 125th Street, things turn a bit more vivid with the 125th Street-Harlem station, the first stop after Grand Central station. Park continues until 135th Street in Harlem, the railroad turns away just after 132nd Street to cross the East River. Park Avenue silently ends, like all the eastern Avenues, at the FDR drive. Like 3rd Avenue, it continues in the Bronx until 189th Street. This part is, however, out of scope for my project.

More pictures below!

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Viewing towards the north
Viewing towards the north
Grand Central Station, Grand Hyatt…
Grand Central Station, Grand Hyat…
North of Grand Central Park Avenue…
North of Grand Central Park Avenu…
The stone wall elevated part has a…
The stone wall elevated part has …
The southern tip. Union Square
The southern tip. Union Square
Flower market at Union Square
Flower market at Union Square
Old and high buildings give Park A…
Old and high buildings give Park …
Huge commercials
Huge commercials
High buildings give Park Avenue So…
High buildings give Park Avenue S…
Old and high buildings give Park A…
Old and high buildings give Park …
A reference to the past
A reference to the past
South of 42nd Street the Lexington…
South of 42nd Street the Lexingto…
Mondial feeling at Park Avenue
Mondial feeling at Park Avenue
The 33rd Street tunnel routes cars…
The 33rd Street tunnel routes car…
The Chrysler Building can be seen …
The Chrysler Building can be seen…
Nice art
Nice art
The 40th Street ramp routes cars up
The 40th Street ramp routes cars up
The ramp, Grand Central Station, a…
The ramp, Grand Central Station, …
Cornelius Vanderbilt in front of t…
Cornelius Vanderbilt in front of …
Grand Central Station, Grand Hyatt…
Grand Central Station, Grand Hyat…
Reflection of the MetLife Building…
Reflection of the MetLife Buildin…
MetLife Building
MetLife Building
Helmsley Building
Helmsley Building
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
Buildings!
Buildings!
Buildings!
Buildings!
The Winter Roses by Will Ryman
The Winter Roses by Will Ryman
The Winter Roses by Will Ryman
The Winter Roses by Will Ryman
Old Church
Old Church
The feeling of home
The feeling of home
More church!
More church!
At 97th Street the rail tracks eme…
At 97th Street the rail tracks em…
A more historic face of Park Avenue
A more historic face of Park Avenue
At 97th Street the rail tracks eme…
At 97th Street the rail tracks em…
Nice shadows!
Nice shadows!
The train to Grand Central on the …
The train to Grand Central on the…
Mysterious things happen at 103rd …
Mysterious things happen at 103rd…
Th stone wall elevated track
Th stone wall elevated track
Tunnel at 106th Street
Tunnel at 106th Street
Graffiti is here..., unfortunately
Graffiti is here..., unfortunately
Play ground at 108th Street
Play ground at 108th Street
Metal pillar elevated track
Metal pillar elevated track
Shops under the metal pillar eleva…
Shops under the metal pillar elev…
Soccer next to Park Avenue
Soccer next to Park Avenue
Parking lots under the metal pilla…
Parking lots under the metal pill…
The train to Grand Central on the …
The train to Grand Central on the…
125th Street Station
125th Street Station
125th Street Station
125th Street Station
125th Street
125th Street
125th Street Station
125th Street Station
125th Street
125th Street
130th Street
130th Street
After 132th Street the railroad be…
After 132th Street the railroad b…
The East River Bridge
The East River Bridge
The northern boundary at 135th Str…
The northern boundary at 135th St…
Historic view of the cut through f…
Historic view of the cut through …
Manhattan
photo by: Fitnessguru729