New York...a foreign country?

Travel Forums North America New York...a foreign country?

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1. Posted by Reid (First Time Poster 1 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

My husband & I are traveling to New York for the first time the second week in December. We live in Arizona and know that this is going to feel like a different country as we have never seen subways or been on a train. We are probably going to rent out an lot or B&B and want to be centrally located in Manhattan where we can walk to many things or catch the subway or train to other sites. Are there good and bad areas to stay in Manhattan?

Excited & counting down the days.

Thanks for any help you can give me

2. Posted by friscokid (Full Member 122 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

there are no bad places in manhattan in my opinion. i even walked to my hotel 20 blocks at 1am and was fine. you will have a good time.

3. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2004 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Go to the following website to view the map showing what the different regions of Manhattan are:

Then attempt to book a hotel in a good area (I'm not suggesting you use the website given--since better bargains can be found on other websites--such as expedia,, or travelocity)

The good areas to book in are (in order):
Midtown East
Upper West Side
Upper East Side
Murray Hill
East Village

Harlem (crime)
East Harlem (crime)
Midtown West(some areas rundown)
Chelsea (some areas rundown)
Garment District

If you've never been to a town like New York, this will be a bit of a culture shock, but just remember that there is a lot of good things to see--Broadway, Guggenheim, Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Square, Metropolitan Museum of Art, great restaurants to go with the somewhat rundown areas


4. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2004 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Just to be clear, what aj415 says is true for the most part--crime is about 70% less than what it was as recently as 10 years ago--and in most places you are fine--but I'm also trying to point out places where I think you will "feel" safe.


5. Posted by globalgirl (Full Member 64 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I have to disagree a bit here. First of all there a handle of "good locations" to stay in NYC but there is DEFINITELY not a "best" or an all depends what you like. or what you want to experience. Midtown is good if you want to do all the tourist bits - 34th street shopping, 5th ave, ESB, broadway, grand central, etc. But i strongly suggest you don't try to plan your schedule around ONLY doing the "must sees". Once you get south of Astor place, things are different - more of an artsy crowd, this is where you're more likely to find little streets with cute restaurants, etc. I personally feel that midtown is rather "corporate" and that south of union square is the more interesting area of manhattan, just personal preference. If you want to be able to walk to the most stuff, I would say Union Sq. area is ideal becuase you can walk all over midtown, soho, chinatown, east village, west village - all within about 30 minutes. Be careful about hotels on the upper west/east side, it can be annoying trying to get crosstown on the subways since nothing crosses through the park so you normally end up having to transfer at least once.

And - I think saying "avoid" is completely not called for. i mean, midtown west??? CHELSEA? because they're more run down? i would most certainly suggest you visit these areas so that you can get a feel for all the different neighborhoods in the city. Staying in a sterile midtown hotel, taking cabs to the ESB and the statue of liberty - you wouldn't even scratch the surface of manhattan. I think one of the coolest things you can do in manhattan is take a walk through multiple neighborhoods and watch how the city changes around you. For example, starting out at Central Park West, up in the 100s, you can walk through cute neighborhood-type areas, boutique shops, nannies with strollers, you cross down into the theater district where things get really busy, crowded, suddenly you're in the middle of the neon lights of time square! you can venture slightly east and you're surrounded by black and silver skyscrapers, make your way through rainbowed chelsea and down into the brownstones of the west village, into trendy soho...traipse through little italy and suddenly be in chinatown...all in the space of maybe a 5 hour walk.

(side note - Harlem, yes, can be a bit dangerous but there is a lot of gentrification taking place is slowly changing this. But there's probably nothing you need to see in Harlem anyways.)

P.S. there ARE bad areas of Manhattan. The reality (having lived here for a handful of years) is that everything is GENERALLY safe. you shouldn't feel danger at most times, even walking around late at night.

6. Posted by magykal1 (Travel Guru 2026 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I have to say, coming from the UK and expecting NY to feel like Gotham City I was extremely surprised and pleased to discover how safe it felt for wandering around, even at night.

7. Posted by Asheila (Budding Member 19 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I stayed in Manhattan this summer and no mugging's here. It seemed like a pretty safe atmosphere (even at night). When you go to time square be sure to go both during the day and late at night. It is sooo bright and you will be amazed how busy it is at 1am... almost everything is still open. It's fabulous!

Have fun!

8. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2004 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I think globalgirl is misreading my post. I not saying tourists shouldn't visit many parts of New York. I'm just saying it doesn't make sense to wander into the dangerous parts of town just to get the feel for the variety that New York offers.

Walking by the numerous porn shops in Midtown West, the drug dealers in Washington Square shooting up (saw this first-hand last year) and the rundown areas just east of the Jacob Javits Center where homeless people pee openly in the streets just to say that you saw all of New York makes no sense and is not going to be fun for someone coming from rural Arizona who has never even been in a subway.

I've talked highly about the positive things about New York on this site numerous times. But to say there are no dangerous parts of New York City is ludicrous.

There were 572 murders in New York last year, which I agree is less less than the 2,245 murders there in 1990, but that's still a lot more than a small town in Arizona.

Overall, New York City had a rate of 2,801.6 crimes per 100,000 people in 2004. While compared with 8,959.7 in Dallas; 7,903.7 in Detroit; 7,402.3 in Phoenix; 7,346.8 in San Antonio; 7,194.8 in Houston; 5,470.5 in Philadelphia; 4,376.0 in Los Angeles; and 4,102.7 in San Diego, that shows how safe it is compared to other large cities, this still means one out of every 35 persons was a victim of a crime. In small town America the average crime rate is only about 1 in 100, and the murder rate is about 50% less than in New York City.

9. Posted by friscokid (Full Member 122 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Why would Disney put its Disney store in Harlem if crime was a problem?

Also, Chelsea is were many yuppies live. Also, my hotel when I was there was in the garment district and I walked from Chelsea to the Garment district at 1am unaccosted. Other notable highlights of Garment District -- Penn Station, Madison Sq Garden, The Empire State building.

And another thing I remember when I was in Manhattan, there were a ton of cops all over the place.

10. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2004 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Disney has no current stores listed as being in Harlem--see
to see the locations of their three stores (one is near Times Square on 42nd street, one is just north of Columbus Circle on 66th street and one is down on 34th street near Macy's). So unless they just announced they are building one in Harlem, I'm not sure what you are referring to. (Harlem runs from around 110th street north to around 140th street, and east of 7th Avenue down to the East River).

As far as the Garment District, I can see where I could have been misunderstood. My intention wasn't to tell any people to avoid going there, I was saying to avoid trying to book a hotel there. The reason is simple--there are no hotels in the Garment District.

P.S. I do agree with your comment about there being police all over the place in New York.