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A Tour Down 42nd Street


I’m of the generation of the characters in Sex and the City. I’m one year younger than Carrie. And as we celebrate 25 years since the premiere and the start of the second season of And Just Like That, I’ve been rewatching season 4 (IMHO, the best season and the one that was airing when New York City was attacked on 9/11).

To say I’m a fan would be an understatement. The series is a part of me, and I imagine I’ll be rewatching it 25 years from now when I’m in my 80s with the same broad smile across my face! For me, the series is a love letter to New York City, a city I also love.

I’m not alone in this, but I love New York. I truly love (and miss!) New York pizza. I grew up just 22 miles directly west of the Hudson Tunnel in a town called Summit that offered views of the Manhattan skyline. I watched the original World Trade Center buildings go up in the 70s and returned home a week after they were no more. My parents always took me to New York City – for Knicks games, American Ballet Theatre performances, film festivals, concerts, and more. I commuted to college through New York City and had a job my first summer after college at Rockefeller Center. Then, in the early aughts, I did my training to become a yoga teacher just south of Union Square over the infamous Strand Bookstore. 

EMBARK Beyond, our new host agency, is based in New York City, and it’s just one of the reasons it feels like home.

New York City offers so much – museums, parks, theater, dining, and fashion. It’s so alive. But today, I offer a tour of a single street – 42nd Street. Yes, the street of the famous Broadway song. And I pay homage to Andrew McCarthy, who first did this in a short YouTube video over a decade ago. I’ve added my own twist and added at least one new attraction. 

Without further adieu, I present 42nd Street. 

At First Avenue – UN Headquarters

United Nations Headquarters is an iconic building. Visiting there can be a unique and educational experience to learn about global issues such as poverty, the environment, refugees, and conflict. In addition, you’ll see the famous General Assembly Hall, the Security Council Chamber, and other parts of the headquarters that are typically closed to the public. Founded in 1945, after World War II, as a way to promote peace and prevent future wars, a tour of the UN can provide a deeper understanding of the organization’s history and how it has evolved.

At Lexington – The Chrysler Building

A sibling of mine once worked in The Chrysler Building, and yes, the art deco is pretty neat! Completed in 1930, it stands 1,046 feet tall. The Chrysler Building was briefly the tallest in the world until the Empire State Building surpassed its height just a few months later. The interior features a variety of decorative elements, including murals, sculptures, and colorful marble. The lobby’s vaulted ceiling is an intricate mural depicting transportation and manufacturing, which artist Edward Trumbull created. Walter P. Chrysler, the founder of the Chrysler Corporation, commissioned the building. It is known for its distinctive spire, which rises 197 feet above the top, making it one of the most recognizable buildings in the New York City skyline.

At Park Avenue – Grand Central Terminal 

I often commuted to college through Grand Central and had my own movie-like date there. Unlike the old Penn Station, Grand Central’s stunning Beaux-Arts architecture and the famous clock are still with us, thanks to many prominent New Yorkers, such as Jackie Kennedy, who worked to preserve it. One little-known feature is The Whispering Gallery, located on the terminal’s lower level, in front of the Oyster Bar and Restaurant.

This circular area offers acoustics such that a person standing at one end of the gallery can hear the words whispered by another person standing at the opposite end, even though they are approximately 30 feet apart. This marvel is due to the way that sound waves reflect off the curved ceiling and walls of the gallery, creating a “whispering effect” that allows sound to travel along the gallery’s curved surface. 

At Madison – Summit One Vanderbilt

Just across from Grand Central and technical at 1 Vanderbilt Avenue, Summit One Vanderbilt is a sleek, 77-story skyscraper completed in 2020. It’s the fourth-tallest building in New York City and the tallest office building in Midtown Manhattan. There’s also a 1,020-foot outdoor observation deck on the 91st floor of the building, known as the Summit. This deck offers 360-degree views of the city, with stunning vistas of landmarks such as the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the Statue of Liberty. 

Visitors can also enjoy excellent interactive art exhibits, a champagne bar, and outdoor terraces that offer even more stunning city views. For adventurers, there’s a 12-story glass elevator for a thrilling perspective of the city in the world’s most giant external glass-bottomed elevator. (Not me!) And you can venture out onto two glass ledges suspended 1,100 feet above Madison Avenue for that photo shot.  

At Fifth Avenue – The New York Public Library

This iconic library is one of the largest in the world and houses over 53 million items, including rare manuscripts, books, and photographs. It was also the site of Carrie and Big’s aborted wedding (a.k.a. The wedding that wasn’t). The Beaux-Arts building is a designated National Historic Landmark, and its magnificent architecture and impressive interior spaces make it a must-see. You can explore the library’s holdings in the Rose Main Reading Room, one of the world’s largest and most beautiful reading rooms. The library also offers a range of cultural events and programs throughout the year, including author talks, lectures, concerts, and film screenings. In addition, they often exhibit artifacts from the history and culture that captures the city’s rich and diverse heritage.

At Sixth Avenue – Bryant Park

Right next to the New York Public Library is the infamous Bryant Park. Often the site of fashion shows, this tranquil oasis feels very European. In the 1820s, city officials transformed the area where the poor were buried into a public park called Reservoir Square. This park was later renamed Bryant Park in honor of William Cullen Bryant, an American poet, journalist, and editor who played a crucial role in creating the park.

Throughout the 20th century, Bryant Park fell into disrepair. Still, in the 1980s, a group of concerned citizens formed the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation and restored the park to its former glory by 1992. 

Today, Bryant Park is a 9.6-acre oasis in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, featuring lush greenery, walking paths, public art installations, and various outdoor amenities. The park also has several seasonal events and activities, including outdoor movie screenings, ice skating, and a holiday market.

At Broadway – Time Square

And now we come to the crossroads of the world, or the “Great White Way,” for the bright lights of its numerous neon signs. When I was a girl, I remember this being an area of sex shops and adult decadence. Now it’s Disney. I will never get used to the pedestrian walkways and the lack of cars. 

In the late 1800s, Longacre Square was the name of this place. But then, in 1904, the New York Times newspaper moved its headquarters to a new building in the square and renamed Times Square in honor of the newspaper. The Times Building was one of the tallest buildings in the city at the time and featured a large electric sign that displayed the newspaper’s name.

Throughout the early 20th century, Times Square became a hub for entertainment and commercial activity. This period was when Times Square became the hub of theaters with the building of the Palace Theater and the New Amsterdam Theater. Times Square became a popular destination for tourists, who flocked to the area to see Broadway shows, visit the theaters, and enjoy the vibrant nightlife.

In the 1990s, city officials launched a significant redevelopment effort to revitalize the area and improve public safety. Today, the area is known for its bright lights, billboards, colorful electronic displays, and many theaters, museums, and other cultural attractions. Times Square also hosts several major events yearly, including the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

At Eighth Avenue – Madame Tussauds New York

Madame Tussauds New York is a museum in the heart of Times Square in New York City. The museum features over 200 wax figures of celebrities and historical figures, including actors, musicians, politicians, athletes, and other notable figures.

The history of Madame Tussauds dates back to the late 18th century, when Marie Tussaud, a French wax sculptor, began creating wax figures of famous people. Tussaud traveled around Europe with her collection of wax figures, eventually settling in London, where she opened her first wax museum in 1835. Today, Madame Tussauds operates museums in several cities worldwide, including New York City. 

The museum also features interactive exhibits and experiences, including a virtual reality experience, a 4D cinema, and a Marvel Super Heroes 4D experience.

At Ninth Avenue – Playwrights Horizon 

Playwrights Horizons is a non-profit theater company in New York City that produces and supports new plays and musicals. The company was founded in 1971 and has since become a leading force in developing new works for the stage. I came to know them when I worked on Capitol Hill at the Congressional Arts Caucus. 

At Playwrights Horizons, visitors can attend performances of new plays and musicals, many of which are world premieres. The theater company has a long-standing reputation for producing innovative and thought-provoking works by emerging and established playwrights and has received numerous awards and critical acclaim.

At the West Side Highway – The Circle Line and the Intrepid

In business for over seventy years, The Circle Line is a tradition. The boat tour around Manhattan offers visitors the opportunity to see the city from a unique perspective, with stunning skyline views and landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and the Brooklyn Bridge. The excursion consists of a 2.5-hour trip around the island of Manhattan, during which visitors learn from knowledgeable guides who provide information about the history, architecture, and culture of New York City.

The tour route follows the Hudson River, East River, and Harlem River and passes through three of New York City’s boroughs: Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens. The tour also includes a visit to the South Street Seaport, where visitors can learn about New York City’s maritime history.

Though not technically on 42nd Street, as its a few blocks north, a visit to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is worth the time.

Dedicated to the history and exploration of sea, air, and space, the Intrepid, an aircraft carrier that served in World War II and the Vietnam War, serves as home to the museum. There you’ll see exhibits on aircraft, spacecraft, and submarines, as well as interactive displays, simulators, and educational programs. Some of the most notable exhibits include the Space Shuttle Enterprise, the USS Growler submarine, and the British Airways Concorde.

Hells Kitchen, Manhattan, NYC

If you’re planning a trip to the Big Apple, let us help! 

Here’s just a sampling of the magic we can make :: 

  • Private tours to the Intrepid Museum, the Met, the 9/11 Memorial, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and more.
  • Tours of Soho, Little Italy, East Village, Chinatown, High Line, Hudson Yards, Meatpacking District, and more. 
  • Premium seating, meet & greets at Broadway and off-Broadway shows.
  • A private dinner with a Broadway cast member. 
  • Helicopter tours.
  • Soundcheck access at top music events and shows. 
  • VIP Artist Meet & Greets for the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. 
  • Premium seats at US Tennis Open, Yankee, Mets, Knicks games, and more.
  • Tickets to shows at The Café Carlyle, The Blue Note, or Birdland. 

Pre-Departure Checklist

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