Manhattan can seem big and scary to the map-toting traveler and quite frankly, it is. It houses around 1.6 million residents and over 23,000 restaurants (as of 2010.) Looking for Thai food? (Which I am on a weekly basis.) We’ve got about 320 to choose from on Yelp.com alone.
When I first moved here, it was late summer and the empty streets were sunny and inviting. I didn’t have a whole lot to do, other than look for jobs and try to grasp a sense of direction amidst a sea of buildings that all looked the same. So, in an effort to do both, and make up for the fact that I wasn’t running or going to the gym, I walked everywhere.
Walking around all day, for days on end, is what led me to discover that six avenues away is much different than six streets, that the number system disappears in The Village, that 42nd and Broadway (Times Square) is to be avoided at all costs unless you like to walk really really slow, and that Canal street smells strangely similar to Bangkok.
Relying on your feet for travel and not losing space in the gaps created by subway rides is the best way to get the lay of the land, so that’s what I did.
Although I now have a solid grasp of the subway system and the general layout of neighborhoods, I’m still finding nooks and crannies, as well as big gaping holes of Manhattan that I’ve yet to conquer. So in an effort to cover serious territory on foot, and hopefully a better understanding of Manhattan’s west side, my roommate and I decided to take advantage of a Monday holiday (we get presidents day off at real jobs?? how cool!) and walk the West Side path.
Armed with relatively comfy shoes and our favorite giant sunglasses, Amanda and I started at Chambers Street and walked north. We saw the highline for the first time, ate carrot cake at a great diner in the meatpacking district, and stumbled upon the entrance to The Daily Show. By the time we made it to 103rd street where a chalkboard sign announced mouth-watering happy hour specials became the obvious finish line, we felt as though we had connected some of the many dots of Manhattan neighborhoods.