Running west to east across Midtown Manhattan, 42nd Street is New York City’s all-singing, all-dancing entertainment hub. Part of the Times Square intersection and Broadway Theater District, the famous street draws visitors with its shows, shops, bright lights, and architectural landmarks.
No trip to New York City is complete without exploring 42nd Street, which is divided into two sections: East 42nd, with its stately office and residential blocks, and West 42nd, where gigantic digital billboards, flashing theater marquees, and honking yellow cabs rule both day and night.
The street is a popular stop on all the city’s hop-on hop-off bus tours—letting you admire the sights from your seat or jump out to catch a show or do a little shopping. Alternatively, opt for a tour that features 42nd Street alongside other architecturally interesting areas of Manhattan, or one that focuses on Times Square’s Prohibition-era history.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The street is a must for sightseers, shoppers, theater lovers, and first-time visitors to New York City.
- The street is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, though be ready to negotiate crowded sidewalks.
How to Get There
Extending for 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from end to end, 42nd Street cuts through the center of Midtown Manhattan. Key subway stations are 42nd Street–Times Square, 42nd Street–Bryant Park/Fifth Avenue, and Grand Central–42nd Street. Buses 199, M42, M55, QM2, and QM24 stop near Times Square.
When to Get There
The intersection of 42nd Street, Broadway, and Times Square is always busy, so expect to weave through crowds almost anytime you go. For a slightly less congested experience, visit right after the morning rush hour—before many tourists arrive. After dark, the lights of the billboards and theaters make a memorable sight.
East 42nd Street
Once you’ve experienced the lights, shops, and perhaps a show on West 42nd Street, check out East 42nd Street. This elegant thoroughfare begins at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Bryant Park, and boasts NYC signatures such as Grand Central Terminal, the art deco Chrysler Building, and the towering United Nations Headquarters, overlooking the East River.