City Living: There's more in Midtown East than suits and high-rises
A buzzing commercial section, scores of shopping and a plethora of restaurants – these images emerge in the minds of many when they hear Midtown East. But tucked in the on-the-go, vibrant hub, are a few smaller, attractive residential neighborhoods.
“There is a strong residential community with a good residential feel even though it’s in the middle of Manhattan,” said Sandro Sherrod, the chair of Community Board 6. “There is a sense of community.”
It’s not all suits, office space, hotels and landmarks here.
Residential areas including Tudor city, Turtle Bay and Sutton Place thrive along the East River. They boast quiet side streets that coexist with buzzing main corridors like Second and Third Avenue.
Tudor City, made up of apartment complexes, is known as the first residential skyscraper complex in the world. It runs from 40th to 43rd streets between First and Second avenues and features the hidden gem of a green space, Tudor City Greens.
The Greens are a lush and quiet space ensconced in the looming residential and office towers that dominate the neighborhood. In 1988 it was designated a historic district by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Turtle Bay runs from 43rd to 53rd streets between Lexington Avenue and the East River. This old neighborhood had a bay where the United Nations Headquarters now stands.
According to the Turtle Bay Association, some historians attribute the name to an old turtle-filled creek, while others say it was more of a misuse of the Dutch word “deutal,” meaning bent blade, which describes the shape of the bay.
Sutton Place, known for its more upscale prices, is situated between 53rd to 59th Streets from Second Avenue to the East River. The Sutton Place Park, running along the Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive from East 58th to East 51st streets, provides a mini escape for residents.
“It’s a very good place to live,” Cindy Luzon, a resident who lives in Sutton Place, said of Midtown East. “It’s easy to get around; I could walk everywhere around here. And there’s no shortage of places to eat.”
According to Citi Habitats real estate agent Les Meyers, Midtown East offers a range of price points. A two-bedroom in the east 40th streets, he said, go for an average of $1.5 million. However, the same size apartment in a prestigious building in the area could sell for an average of $2.6 million.
Meyers said the main selling points that attract new residents to the area are its location and convenience.
“There’s plenty to do here and you can get anywhere in the city in 15 minutes,” he said.
Besides the residential portion, Midtown East sees a bulk of office workers and tourists shuffling through its streets by day. But at night, Meyer noted that after the tourists and workers are gone, the streets come alive with locals.
Famous landmarks like Grand Central Terminal, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, The United Nations, The New York Public Library, The Chrysler Building, and acclaimed regal hotels like the Waldorf Astoria and The New York Palace Hotel are within its boundaries.
A huge chunk of high-end retailers also call Midtown East home, from Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo to Chanel and Christian Dior. Fifth Avenue serves as the high-end retail mecca.
Midtown East is also home to the Decorative Arts District, where interior designers and décor wholesalers and retailers can be found along streets like 59th. Many showcase luxury kitchens, bathrooms and lighting options for the home.
Though attractive for a multitude of reasons, Sherrod cites some challenges to the neighborhood to include congestion and noise. Luzon said it’s the lack of a Second Avenue subway to ease the overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue 4, 5, 6 line.
“We have been working and trying to identify points of congestion both vehicular and train and bike safety with the DOT, and in different cases with the MTA,” Sherrod said. “We field noise complaints by the folks who live near or along Third Avenue in East 50s where a string of bars and restaurants can be loud at night.”
He said the board is working with residents and business owners to make sure everyone can coexist peacefully.
But besides the occasional drawback, Meyers said new developments like The Halcyon, a luxury building at 305 E. 51st St., are bringing in more residents.
“There’s certainly a lot of very fine dining and a lot of history,” he said of Midtown East. “It’s becoming an area that more people are choosing to live in.”
4,5,6 to Grand Central 42nd Street, 59th Street; 6 to 51st Street; 7 to Grand Central 42nd Street, Fifth Avenue; S at Grand Central (to Times Square); E, M to Lexington Ave/53rd Street, Fifth Ave/53rd Street; N, Q, R to Lexington Avenue/59th Street; Metro-North from Grand Central Terminal; Tramway from 59th Street and Second Avenue to Roosevelt Island; Buses: Qm15, Qm16, Qm17, Qm18, Qm21, BxM3, BxM8, Bm1, Bm2, Bm3, Bm4, Bm5, X10, X10b, X12, X14, X17, X17j, X22a, X27, X28, X30, X31, X37, X38, X42 More »
NYPL Mid-Manhattan, 455 Fifth Ave.; NYPL Grand Central, 135 E. 46th St.; NYPL 58th Street, 127 E. 58th St. More »
USPS, 450 Lexington Ave.; USPS, 909 Third Ave. More »
Midtown East is covered by the 17th Precinct at 167 E. 51st St. According to its CompStat report, there were 39 robberies this year as of Aug. 10, up from 24 in the year to date in 2013. From Aug. 4-10, there were 13 grand larcenies, or major thefts, reported by the precinct, but no burglaries. No murders were reported as of Aug. 10, but there were 13 rapes. There were no murders reported by the precinct in all of 2013. More »
Grand Central Oyster Bar
This opulent dining room oozes with old-world charm. In addition to oysters, soups, raw bar dishes, shellfish and fried seafood platters and smokehouse dishes are part of the daily menu.
Smith and Wollensky
A revered New York steakhouse, this fine-dining establishment is adorned with photos, reviews and awards on its walls that tell the story of its history and reputation. U.S. Department of Agriculture prime graded steak, dry-aged for up to 28 days, is served alongside filet mignon, fish and lobster dishes.
Named after the mix of seasoning often used to flavor dishes in Puerto Rico, Sofrito takes patrons to the Caribbean island via décor, music, and food.
Pig ‘N’ Whistle
Catch up and chill out at this long-time spacious and friendly Irish bar while sipping on their signature spicy Bloody Mary or downing a 20 oz. glass of Guinness. Shepherd’s Pie and the pulled pork sandwich are some of the small plates offered.
P.J. Clarke's Bar and Restaurant
A trip to Midtown East isn’t complete without stepping foot in the original acclaimed P.J. Clarke’s bar. This is the location where in 1884 Patrick Clarke opened his saloon that has since branched off around the country and Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The Campbell Apartment
This chic, old-world style luxury space in Grand Central Terminal provides the quintessential New York night out. Weddings, parties and other social functions are often held here and drinks from the 1920s like the Prohibition Punch are always being sipped on. (Photo credit: Natan Dvir)
Fifth Avenue from E. 48th Street to E. 59th Street
High-end retailers like Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo cater to the luxury shoppers while Zara, Abercrombie and Fitch and H&M offer bargains trends from on and off the runway.
The acclaimed legendary toy store is a must-visit. Everything from large stuffed animals, dolls, trains, bikes, arts and crafts and games are offered for kids of any age at this flagship store. (Photo credit: Flickr/Rob Young)
A prime spot for men’s fashion, Van Laack caters to the man or woman who has or is looking for a particular, dapper style. Tailored shirts and pants along with accessories are sold.
Sony Wonder Technology Lab
This free technology and entertainment museum is focused on all things tech. Inside the four-story space, exhibits, film screenings, programs, workshops and interactive exhibits are on display for tech lovers of all ages. Reservations are recommended.
This nonprofit space offers workshops, film screenings, exhibits and language classes exposing visitors to the wonders of the Japanese culture.
The Manhattan Art and Antiques Center
Everything is on display in this large space from jewelry, art pieces and décor to glassware, clocks and books from various time periods. Individual gallery hours may vary.
"The vibe you get from most people you encounter here is like a ‘Cheers’ vibe – everybody knows your name." More »
520 Second Ave. #20A. One bed, two baths; 1,110 square feet: $1,660 per month; 356 E. 57th St. #3R. One bed, one bath; 800 square feet: $2,400 per month More »
330 E. 57th St. #9. Three bed, 2½-bath condo; 1,891 square feet: $2,995,000; 212 E. 47th St. #20A. One bed, one bath condo; 628 square feet: $950,000 More »