Manhattan is one of the five boroughs in New York City. Manhattan is on an island, and while it is the most densely populated borough, it is the smallest geographically.
From North to South, Manhattan is long, stretching 13.4 miles in length. From east to west, the island is 2.3 miles wide at the widest point.
This article will detail how long Manhattan is, how you can cross it, how Manhattan compares to other New York boroughs, and what the most popular attractions are throughout Manhattan.
The Geography of Manhattan
Manhattan is a natural island that was colonized around 1624 as part of New Netherland, which included New York.
It was a popular place for settlers due to the easy access to the water that surrounds it.
Many people thought that the south part of Manhattan begins at 1st Street, but that is not true. At Manhattan’s lower tip is Battery Park and at the northern tip is the Inwood neighborhood.
If you describe the length of Manhattan from park to park, you can say it goes from Fort Tryon Park to Battery Park.
The island is surrounded by the East River and the Hudson River on the east and west sides, respectively. To the south is the Upper New York Bay which is part of the New York Harbor.
The New York Harbor connects the rivers and the bay to the Atlantic Ocean. The Harlem River is the northern border of the island that separates Manhattan from the rest of the United States, specifically, the Bronx.
Manhattan itself is divided into three parts: Downtown, also called Lowertown, Midtown, and Uptown.
Downtown is the southern part of the island, from 14th Street to the bottom end of the island.
Uptown is from 59th Street, which borders the southern part of Central Park to the very northern end of Manhattan.
Midtown is the area in between the two from 14th Street to 59th Street. These sections can differ slightly depending on who you talk to, but they are generally defined this way.
The island is also split down the middle into the East Side and the West Side, usually along Fifth Avenue. This divide spans the whole island.
Manhattan Compared To The Other Boroughs
Manhattan is the smallest of the five boroughs at just over twenty-two square miles or nearly sixty square kilometers. More than one and a half million people are living in Manhattan.
While Long Island itself is not a borough, Brooklyn and Queens are both on the west end of Long Island.
Brooklyn is the most populated borough with more than two and a half million people living there. It is the second biggest borough by landmass at seventy square miles or just over one hundred and eighty square kilometers.
Next, Queens is the second most populated borough with more than 2.2 million people. But, it is the largest borough by land size at more than one hundred square miles or just over two hundred and eighty kilometers.
Staten Island is an island southwest of Manhattan. Staten Island is midsized at just under sixty square miles or one hundred and fifty square kilometers as far as the five boroughs go. Staten Island is by far the least populated borough with just under half a million residents.
Finally, the Bronx, the fourth most populated borough, has more than three times more people living there than Staten Island. Just under one and a half million people are living in the Bronx, and the landmass is just over forty square miles, or one hundred and ten square kilometers.
Between the five boroughs, New York City has a population of more than eight million people, making it the most populated city in the United States.
However, New York City is just over three hundred square miles, or nearly eight hundred square kilometers large, which does not even break the top twenty in largest United States Cities by landmass.
How Long Does It Take To Cross Manhattan?
New York City is a very interesting place and has so much public transportation and roads, there are many ways that you can cross Manhattan.
All of the times below are from the most southern point of the island to the Inwood neighborhood at the northern tip, or vice versa.
Crossing New York City by Car
The first way to get across Manhattan is by car. If you are traveling by car, there are two common routes that you can take. One is New York State Route 9, or NY 9A, which runs along the west side of the island, and FDR Drive, which runs along the right side.
Your travel time by car will vary depending on the time of day and which direction you are traveling. Rush hour in New York is typically between seven and nine in the morning and between four and six in the evening.
If you drive from North to South, you can expect the drive to take up to an hour. The drive from South to North takes longer, usually between thirty to fifty minutes in the morning, but it can take as long as an hour and a half in the evening.
In the middle of the day, driving in either direction will take between twenty-five and fifty minutes. There is very little traffic in the middle of the night, so the drive only takes between twenty and thirty minutes.
It is important to remember that it is not necessary to own a car to drive across Manhattan. There are plenty of taxis, ride-share services, and even services that let you borrow a car for a day if you think this is the best way to get across the island.
Crossing Manhattan by Train/Subway
New Yorkers talk slang most of the time and when they speak about taking a train, they are referring to the city’s extensive subway system. The trains in New York can get you nearly anywhere, and the system is easy to understand using a map.
Taking a train can be an effective way to avoid the city’s traffic during rush hour, even though trains may be busier during that time too.
Two trains go all the way across Manhattan from North to South. The first is the 1 Train which starts at the southern tip near Battery Park, goes up the island along Seventh Avenue. The line ends in Brooklyn near Marble Hill, a few stops past the northern part of Manhattan.
The second train is the A Train, which starts in Manhattan’s northern Inwood Neighborhood. It runs through Manhattan along Eighth Avenue, down to nearly the island’s southern tip before going east to Brooklyn.
If you wanted to go further south in Manhattan than the A train would take you, you would have to walk about twenty minutes or switch to a different train for a stop or two.
Walk Across Manhattan
Walking across the entire length of Manhattan will, not surprisingly, take the longest amount of time, but it is the most interesting way to cross the borough.
If you are walking all the way across the island, it will take you just over four hours if you do not stop. You can take a few direct routes along the east side of Manhattan, likely along Broadway.
While a direct route is fastest, taking some breaks to see some of the most popular sites in New York City, to eat some good food, or have a sip from popular NYC fishbowl drinks would make your walk much more fun. In the next section, we will discuss what steps you can make on a walk through Manhattan.
Crossing Manhattan by Bus
Crossing the entire island of Manhattan by bus is the least practical. You will need to take at least two buses, if not more, and the entire trip will take you nearly two hours, if not longer.
Even if you are trying to cross Manhattan with a few stops along the way, a combination of walking and trains will be a better option.
Manhattan’s Biggest Tourist Attractions From Southern Tip To Northern Tip
There are many different neighborhoods in Manhattan, and, as mentioned above, the island is roughly divided into three sections vertically, with Fifth Avenue dividing each section into an east side and a west side.
This section will explain the most popular places in each part of New York’s most populated borough.
If you ever considered exploring Manhattan from end to end, these are the place that you do not want to miss. You can explore these destinations on a walk, by train, or some other way,
They are listed from south to north, but you can easily switch the order depending on your starting point.
Additionally, some of these places are very easy to walk between, whereas others will have a long walk. If they are more than a few streets apart or more than an avenue or two, it will likely be easier to travel between them on the subway, a bus, or even drive.
At the southern tip of the island is Battery Park. From Battery Park, you can look south over the harbor and see the Statue of Liberty, or you can look north and see the beginning of Manhattan and some of the tallest buildings in New York.
From here, you can go north into the financial district and walk down Wall Street. Near here is Bowling Green Park, the oldest park in New York City, which is home to the famous Charging Bull statue.
Further north from the Financial District is the old site of the Twin Towers. The old location of the two towers is now a memorial site, and it sits next to the new One World Trade Center. The One World Trade Center has an observation deck near the top.
In addition to the new skyscraper is a museum that honors the people who died in the tragic attack, including citizens, the fire department, and other heroes.
To the northwest, past the Brooklyn Bridge, Little Italy, and Chinatown border Canal Street. Chinatown is a popular place to find Chinese and Asian restaurants, souvenir shops, and lots of markets with special Chinese spices, foods, and more. Little Italy is similar, but with many Italian restaurants and shops.
Just west of Little Italy is the SOHO neighborhood. SOHO is a popular neighborhood for shopping since it is home to many upscale shops of all kinds, including clothing, art, and jewelry. At night, there are plenty of restaurants and clubs for you to enjoy New York nightlife
Finally, there are many popular Big Apple neighborhoods in the northern part of Lowertown. Starting on the west side, the Meatpacking District is home to part of the popular High Line, a walking trail built on old train tracks.
West Village is one of New York City’s most popular neighborhoods for living in. There are also a lot of fashion stores, restaurants, and nighttime entertainment, including piano bars and small theaters.
The larger area that includes West Village and a few other neighborhoods is called Greenwich Village. Greenwich Village covers the west side of Lowertown from Houston Street to 14th Street, which is the top edge of Lowertown.
From 14th Street, you begin Midtown. Midtown is a large area spanning forty-five streets.
Many of the most popular tourist attractions are in Midtown, which makes it a prevalent but expensive place to live or stay.
The majority of the High Line mentioned above is part of Midtown on the very west side. This part is in the Chelsea neighborhood, which has a lot of residential buildings. It is also a prominent area for art galleries and gay bars.
East of Chelsea is the Flatiron Building. The building is one of the most recognizable in New York City. The neighborhood in this area is called the Flatiron District because of the building.
North of here on 34th Street is the Empire State Building, one of the most famous in the New York City skyline. The building is one hundred and three stories tall, and there are observation decks on a couple of the highest floors.
At 42nd Street is Times Square, one of the most prominent places in New York City. Times Square is an iconic part of the city.
It spans multiple streets and has many restaurants, hotels, and shops. There are billboards that light up, artists selling their work on the street, and the Times Square subway stops.
New York residents usually avoid Times Square since it is so crowded, but it is a must-see for visitors to the city. Seeing it during the day and at night are two vastly different experiences, and both are a must.
Next to Times Square to the east is Bryant Park. Bryant Park is home to New York’s main library, lots of food stands, open green space for relaxing, and lots of tables, including chess tables. Bryant Park is popular for visitors to walk around and for locals to enjoy before or after work.
West of Bryant Park is Grand Central Terminal. This terminal is an iconic part of New York since it is in so many movies and tv shows. Although it does act as a transportation hub, there are also stores, a tennis club, and many great photo spots.
Next to Grand Central station is the Chrysler Building, another iconic New York skyscraper. The Chrysler Building used to be the world’s tallest building at seventy-seven stories and a well-recognized top.
Finally, on the very east end of 42nd Street is the United Nations Headquarters. This building offers tours that will teach you about international relations, the history of the United Nations, and how the United Nations affects us today. The area also has great views of the East River and Queens and Brooklyn across the river.
North of Times Square and 42nd Street is Broadway, the famous theater district. Broadway theaters, specifically off-Broadway shows, are scattered throughout the area, but most of the big ones are along Broadway, all near each other.
Even if it is off-Broadway, seeing a show on Broadway is special for visitors and locals to New York City alike.
West of Broadway is another famous building, Rockefeller Center. This building is home to many tv studios, the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, a famous restaurant and bar, and a tree and ice skating rink during the holiday season.
Finally, the Museum of Modern Art, or the MOMA, is located in Midtown on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The museum houses many famous works of art that people come to see from all over the world.
Although Midtown has the most attractions, including Times Square, Uptown is the largest. First, Uptown is home to Central Park, which spans more than fifty streets alone.
More than forty million people visit Central Park every year, making it the most visited park in the world. That is over twenty times as many people who live in Manhattan. The Park has a zoo, miles, and miles of paths, food stands, iconic movie locations, ponds, and much more.
Seeing the entire park would easily take more than a day, but the south part is where the most attractions and people are.
New York has different museums for everybody. On the west side of the park is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Met. The Met is on Fifth Ave near Eighty-Second Street. The Met is one of the world’s most popular art museums and the largest in the United States.
On the West side of the park, opposite the Met, is another museum: the American Museum of Natural History. The Natural History Museum is another well-known museum, made popular by movies.
On the east side of the Park is the Upper East Side neighborhood, and on the west side of the park is the Upper West Side.
North of the Park is a lot of residential neighborhoods, including the well-known Harlem neighborhood. At the northern tip of Uptown is Fort Tryon Park, a pretty park with some of the best views of the Hudson River.
Manhattan is a very long island that is bigger than thirteen miles in length. It is a densely populated borough, and it is made even busier by the overwhelming number of visitors who come to New York and the residents of other boroughs who work and relax in the city.
You can cross Manhattan in many different ways, including by car, foot, or public transit. Since Manhattan is so large, it is no wonder that there are so many things to do on the island.
Whether you are visiting New York to fulfill a bucket list, thinking on moving to NYC or already live there, it is a fun experience to explore the city from end to end and see all that the Big Apple has to offer.
If you happen to move into a specific area in Manhattan, we reviewed the best east side movers and west side movers of New York.