With so many Must-See Attractions, New York City remains one of the world’s biggest attractions, if not the biggest. What’s amazing about this iconic city is how diverse it is.
It isn’t uncommon to hear it described as a place with many varying personalities. This is because each street in New York is so drastically different from the next that you might as well be moving from one city to another.
From antique cobblestone streets and well-preserved mausoleums to towering skyscrapers, moving through New York City is like a journey through American history and culture.
How Many Streets Are In New York City?
New York City is home to over 32000 streets, each one having its unique history and identity. Manhattan alone contains 214 streets.
NYC having such a large number of streets might be shocking but when you consider that it is home to 8 million people, it becomes perfectly understandable.
Whether you want to visit the city to see its gorgeous parks, experience its cultural institutions, or take part in its bustling commerce, there is a street for your every desire.
Here are the 11 most famous streets in New York City.
There is no better street to start this list with than NYC’s legendary Broadway. Broadway is packed with rich history and culture. For many artists and pop culture enthusiasts, it has become synonymous with theater and the arts.
Broadway is one of the oldest roads in NYC. Its origins can be found during the pre-colonial era when Native American inhabitants developed the road and christened it the ‘Wickquasgeck trail’.
Once the English took over the city from the Dutch ( who had renamed it the ‘Gentleman’s Trail’), it was once again renamed Broadway because of its shocking width.
Since then it has gone on to become the iconic theater district and commercial hub it is known as today.
The street’s biggest attraction is its theater district which is packed with theaters and entertainment venues.
It houses the legendary Broadway Theatre which has been a driving force of culture since 1924.
Times Square, another popular venue, sits just south of the Broadway theater. Its beaming lights, commercial displays, and thrilling shows complement the area perfectly.
You can experience some of the best performances in the world by simply purchasing a ticket for a show at Times Square.
Those who are not performing in the theaters are out in the plaza putting up brilliant performances for a constantly moving audience.
Broadway has also been home to many historic ticker-tape parades. The street has given heroic welcomes to astronauts, Olympic athletes, and legends like Nelson Mandela and Charles Lindbergh.
Location: Broadway 10012, New York, NY, USA.
2. Park Avenue
Park Avenue offers a perfect sample of New York’s incredible architecture. It houses many of the city’s iconic buildings and the more time you spend on this street, the more awe-inspiring your experience will be.
Buildings like the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building are huge attractions on their own and Park Avenue offers much more.
Another gorgeous place worth seeing is the Grand Central Terminal which houses the famous 4-faced opal clock. Other attractions include:
- The Waldorf Astoria,
- The MetLife Building
- 432 Park Avenue residential skyscraper
- Grand Central Station etc.
Park Avenue sits right at the heart of New York. Many of its residential buildings are brick and stone structures that date back to the 1920s and 30s. Despite their age, they are kept in pristine condition.
Location: Park Ave, New York, NY, USA.
3. St. Mark’s Place
St. Mark’s Place might not be the most popular location in New York but it arguably embodies the spirit of the city better than any other street.
Known for its eccentric personality, St. Mark’s Place is the birthplace and heart of the city’s counter-culture movement. For decades it produced poets, hippies, and punks, many of whom would go on to drive culture on a national scale.
The street was also known for being the home of Five-Spots, which was at a time one of NYC‘s most prominent jazz clubs.
It was a regular stop for bands to take photoshoots and shoot music videos, including big names like The Rolling Stones and the New York Dolls.
Today, St. Mark’s Place remains a cultural hotspot and maintains its weird, grungy atmosphere. Everything from its artists to restaurants, stores, and dive bars upholds the counter-culture aesthetic that first breathed life into the area.
The street is still home to hippies who can often be seen performing or hosting events at Tompkins Square Park, where the street ends.
Location: St Marks Pl, New York, NY, USA.
4. 5th Avenue
5th Avenue is often described as the main artery of New York City. Geographically, it connects North and South Manhattan, but beyond this, it is recognized as New York’s best shopping street. It is also its most expensive commercial district.
During the 19th century, 5th Avenue, also known as “Millionaire’s Row,” was home to New York’s elite class. Once a pastoral thoroughfare, this street has now become a global attraction for the superb shopping experience it offers.
It is arguably the most ostentatious shopping avenue in the US. Brands like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Armani, and many others regularly welcome rich customers into their 5th Avenue retail outlets and wealthy art collectors also pay frequent visits to the area, hoping to either purchase or enjoy rare and valuable art.
5th Avenue’s Apple store is perhaps the most sought-after in the area and has become something of a landmark.
Other attractions on 5th Avenue include:
- The Empire State Building
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral
- New York’s Public Library
- Central Park
- Bryant Park etc.
Location: 5th Ave, New York, NY, USA.
5. Wall Street
Wall Street is not just one of the most popular streets in New York, it is also one of the most popular streets in the world. It is rare to meet a person who has not heard the name Wall Street.
This iconic eight-block-long stretch in Lower Manhattan rivals Broadway for the title of the most popular street in New York and may very well be the more popular of the two streets.
Originally named “de Waal Straat” by the early Dutch settlers in Manhattan, what was once a haven for the Dutch from the English, Wall Street has gone on to become the world’s economic powerhouse.
Known for being the home of the New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street is regularly flooded with investors and other finance personnel from around the world.
America’s largest brokerage firms and financial institutions compete for spaces on the street. This street is so well known that its name has become a metonym for the whole finance industry.
Apart from its connections to the world of finance, Wall Street is also a repository of American history.
Federal Hall was the original capital of the United States, it was here that George Washington became the first president of the United States. It was also here that the first Supreme Court and the first Congress were launched.
There is also the Trinity Church, the historic 19th-century parish which, in its time, was the tallest structure in New York City.
Location: Wall St, New York, NY, USA.
6. Doyers Street
Doyers Street might not be the most flattering street in New York City, but it certainly belongs on any list of famous New York streets.
Once known for being the most violent street in the city, Doyers Street is a necessary mention in New York’s story. Its violent reputation earned it the name, The Bloody Angle.
This is because, during the 20th century, Doyers Street was at the center of a long period of gang violence.
It is said that there were more violent deaths on Doyers Street during this period than on any other American street.
A major attraction in the area is the Nom Wah Tea Parlor, which was opened during the 20th century, at the peak of the street’s violence, and is the oldest restaurant in Chinatown.
Other restaurants such as the Chinese Tuxedo and Taiwan Pork Chop House make it a popular attraction for food enthusiasts.
Location: Doyers St, New York, NY, USA.
The Bowery is generally considered to be the oldest thoroughfare in Manhattan. Its beginnings date back to the pre-colonial era, during which it was used as a footpath by the Lenape people.
Originally named Bouwerie Weg, which translates to ‘Farm Road’, by the Dutch who used it as a path to access farmlands and estates outside the city, it would later be renamed Bowery after the English took control of the territory.
Known to New Yorkers as “The Bowery”, this segment of Lower Manhattan was the center of the city’s original performing arts scene.
From its legendary 19th-century theater performances of Shakespeare’s plays, (which later served as the turning point of the famous ‘Shakespeare Riots’), to its run as the cradle of punk rock, Bowery street would influence American performance art in a way no other street in America’s history could ever do.
For some undetectable reason, Bowery continuously produced the edgiest acts. From the now detested minstrel shows to bands like Blondie, The Talking Heads, and The Ramones, many popular acts rose from the Bowery.
Though it is no longer the bohemian utopia it used to be, it is still a haven for performance artists, poets, and musicians.
Location: Bowery St, New York, NY, USA.
8. Houston Street
Houston Street, formerly known as the Bargain District, is a major east/west street in Manhattan.
It is also famous for having the most mispronounced name in the city. Its residents and other residents of New York will not hesitate to correct visitors who pronounce it the same way the popular Texas City, Houston, is pronounced.
These two places have very different pronunciations. The New York City thoroughfare is pronounced “HAU-stuhn” and not “HUE-stun” like Texas City.
Getting these pronunciations mixed up will make you stand out as a visitor, but that’s not so bad.
Houston Street endures as a very important street in New York. Noted for its width(it runs the full width of Manhattan) and historic value, its role as a marker for the southern boundary of Greenwich Village makes its value even more elevated. It is also popular for being home to legendary scientist Nikola Tesla’s laboratory.
Location: Houston St, New York, NY, USA.
9. Canal Street
Canal Street is one of Lower Manhattan’s east-west thoroughfares. It derives its name from a dug canal that was created in the early 1800s to drain water from what used to be the Collect Pond and divert it into the Hudson River.
Eventually, the canal became polluted and was an open sewer. Unsurprisingly, it was drained with urgency. It was then quickly constructed over and developed into what is today known as Canal Street.
Today, Canal Street is popular for being a bustling Chinese jewelry business district and a major part of Chinatown. Visitors and locals alike flood the street’s open-air stalls and numerous stores to purchase goods at coveted prices.
Location: Canal St, New York, NY, USA.
10. Avenue of the Americas
Known more popularly as Sixth Avenue, ‘Avenue of the Americas’ is a popular New York Street that has found its way into several movies and numerous song lyrics.
It was named Avenue of the Americas by the then Mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia, who believed it would bring some measure of dignity to the avenue, which was at that time on a speedy decline.
The goal was to gain esteem by honoring the Organization of American States, an international organization based in DC.
It seems to have paid off because today it is home to several notable buildings such as the International Center of Photography, Grace Building, News Corp, and Rockefeller Center. There is also the Exxon Building and Radio City Music Hall.
Location: 6th Ave, New York, NY, USA.
11. Washington Street
You can not only have incredible views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge, two famous bridges in NYC, but also see breathtaking views of the New York City skyline from the beachfront restaurants.
Location: Washington St, Brooklyn, NY 11201