The Murray Hill/Gramercy area of New York is one of New York’s largest studies in contrast. On one hand, there are massive housing and hospital complexes that take up several city blocks; on the other hand, there are narrow alleys and small, gated parks of unparalleled beauty. Add it all together and we get (ho-hum) just another brilliant slice of New York.
Murray Hill’s contrast, for instance, can be found by checking out lovely little Sniffen Court, one’s of Manhattan’s finest residential alleys, and then walking south to teeming Kips Bay Plaza, a set of two parallel housing towers designed by I.M. Pei. Or by watching kids play in St. Vartan’s Park, then walking south on First Avenue to gaze at the humongous NYU and Bellevue Medical Centers (by which time, the “hill” portion of Murray Hill has evaporated). For the hill itself, head to Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue in the upper 30s–from there, you can get a sense of why this area is so-named (our unofficial guess is that Park Avenue and 38th Street is about the highest point in these parts). Then walk the side streets in the East Thirties to see some really prime real estate, as well as consulates, hotels, and lots of other stuff you can’t afford.
Moving south from Murray Hill, the neighborhood changes rather dramatically in the East 20s. You first encounter “Curry Hill” on Lexington Avenue in the upper 20s, a fantastic strip of Indian restaurants and groceries.
The area changes again south of 23d Street, becoming one of New York’s loveliest residential neighborhoods, Gramercy Park. The park itself is gated, controlled and accessed by those who actually live around it. For the rest of us, we’ll just need to be content with looking in at the park through its wrought-iron gates and staring at incredible period architecture facing the park.
But the aforementioned contrast is still alive and kicking down here, because a few blocks to the east of warm, intimate Gramercy are the hulking Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village housing complexes, which together comprise over 11,000 residential units.
MY FAVOURITE RESTAURANTS IN THE AREA:
Jaiya Thai (Thai) – East 28th Street and 3rd Avenue
Bhatti Indian Grill (North Indian)– East 27th Street and Lexington Avenue
Sushi Samba (Sushi and Japanese) – East 20th Street and Park Avenue
Barbounia (Mediterranean) – East 20th Street and Park Avenue
Shake-Shack (Burgers & Milkshake) – East 23rd Street and Madison Avenue, inside the Madison Square Park
Dos Caminos (Mexican)– East 27th Street and Park Avenue
California Pizza Kitchen (Pasta and Pizza) – East 30th Street and Park Avenue
Turkish Kitchen (Turkish) – East 27th Street and 3rd Avenue
Vezzo (Italian) – East 31st Street and Lexington Avenue
Penelope Café (Bakery and Café) – East 30th Street and Lexington Avenue (BEST DESSERTS!!!)
PARKS in the Area:
Madison Square Park