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Iconic Fifth Avenue: 10 Things to See

October 6, 2012
Fifth Avenue on Google Maps

You can plan your walking tour of Fifth Avenue on Google Maps.

This week, the American Planning Association designated iconic Fifth Avenue as one of its 10 Great Streets for 2012—calling it “expansive and majestic” with a “style and splendor that is virtually unparalleled in the U.S.”

Fifth Avenue runs from Washington Square in Greenwich Village to Marcus Garvey Park at 142 Street in Harlem—a distance of six miles or 100 blocks, through 11 neighborhoods. It serves as the dividing line for street addresses on the east and west sides of the city.

If you are visiting New York City, it’s a great place to walk to see some of the city’s greatest sites. Here are but a few must-see stops along the way:

  1. The ornate Fifth Avenue Clock, located at 200 Fifth Avenue near 23rd Street at Madison Square Park is 19 feet high, one of several beautiful clocks you’ll see. When it was first built in 1909, it had to be wound every eight days but is now electrified. Tiffany & Co lovingly restored this New York City landmark in 2011.
  2. The 102-story Empire State Building is located at 350 Fifth Avenue between 33 and 34 St. Inarguably, since it opened in 1931, it is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world Believe it or not, its observatory is open every day of the year, including weekends and holidays. The American Society of Civil Engineers has named it one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
  3. The sprawling main branch of the New York City Library fronts on two city blocks of Fifth Avenue, from 40th to 42nd Streets. Designated a National Historic Landmark, the beaux-arts design building opened in 1911. Two stone lions sculpted by E.C. Potter (called Patience and Fortitude) flank the entrance.
  4. Between 48th and 51 Street, you’ll pass Rockefeller Center, a complex that includes 19 art-deco style buildings covering 22 acres. Opened in 1939, its centerpiece is the skyscraper called “30 Rock” at 30 Rockefeller Center.
  5. The flagship store of the Saks Fifth Avenue fashion chain is located at 50th Street. The 10-story building, opened in 1924, is known for beautiful holiday window displays and a shoe department so large that it has its own zip code.
  6. Just one block north, between 50th and 51st. Street, is St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York is visited by more than 5 million people each year. If you look up, you can see its spires that rise 330 feet from the ground.
  7. Some of the most upscale boutiques and stores in the city are located on Fifth Avenue, including Tiffany & Co., at the corner of 57th Street. Founded in 1837, its iconic blue boxes are known throughout the world for holding fine jewels and gems.
  8. One of the most striking among the many commercial buildings on Fifth Avenue is the Apple Store, located between 58th and 59th Streets. With its unique glass entryway, the store has won many architectural awards.
  9. Hands down, the most scenic portion of Fifth Avenue is the part where it runs adjacent to the east side of Central Park, from 59th to 110th Streets.
  10. The section of Fifth Avenue between 82 and 105th Streets is called Museum Mile. It is home to nine museums, including such cultural meccas as the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum.

The Great Places in America Program recognizes streets, neighborhoods, and public places that have evolved from thoughtful and deliberate planning by residents and community leaders and planners.

In case you’re curious, the nine other great streets named this year are: Duval Street, Key West, FL; Ward Parkway, Kansas City, MO; Main Street, Bozeman, MT; Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY; Wall Street, Kingston, NY; Shaker Boulevard, Cleveland, Shaker Heights and Beachwood, OH; Grant Street, Pittsburgh, PA; Broad Street, Charleston, SC; and Gay Street, Knoxville, TN.


IF YOU GO

Make sure you don’t plan your walk on the same day as one of the numerous celebratory parades that make their route on Fifth Avenue, including the Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Caution: Bicycling on Fifth Avenue can be risky. According to Wikipedia, there is a bike lane south of 23rd Street and a scenic route beside the park, but it can be downright “dangerous” cycling on Fifth through Midtown, especially at rush hours.

 

  • Reply
    Sheryl
    October 8, 2012 at 1:49 am

    I agree – Fifth Avenue is a very special stretch and really something to experience.

  • Reply
    HeatherL
    October 10, 2012 at 2:49 am

    Great ideas. I’m going to cut this out should I ever get to New York.

  • Reply
    merr
    October 10, 2012 at 5:19 am

    A dream day! Such a fun post to read because I have fond memories of doing many of the things you write about.

  • Reply
    Donna Hull
    October 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    I love to stand on a Fifth Avenue corner to take in the energy of shoppers and business people hurrying to their next appointment. I’ll be sharing this itinerary with the readers of the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook.

  • Reply
    ruth pennebaker
    October 10, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    There’s nothing better than a trek down Fifth Avenue — especially when you have a little cash to indulge yourself.

  • Reply
    Brette
    October 10, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    I never really thought about all of these being on one street. We will definitely be back to NY and will spend some more time here.

  • Reply
    Alexandra
    October 11, 2012 at 1:35 am

    I’m planning a trip to NYC this fall so your suggestions are quite timely. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Jeanine Barone
    October 12, 2012 at 12:59 am

    I walk Fifth Avenue at least several times a week. Great review of highlights that shouldn’t be missed. And also good to know about the other great streets. (I’ve walked all but two of these.)

  • Reply
    MyKidsEatSquid
    October 16, 2012 at 3:22 am

    I love, love NYC library. Whenever we see a show in the city we eat cheesecake afterwards in the park by the library.

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