Stretching approximately 5.5 miles in Manhattan, Lexington Avenue is one of the busiest roads in New York City. As it runs past more than 100 blocks, the avenue leads to popular attractions, hotels, and other important venues in Midtown and the Upper East Side. Lexington Avenue has a pedestrian-friendly layout that you’ll appreciate during a walking tour of The Big Apple.
Features and Highlights
As you explore the entire span of Lexington Ave, you’ll see some of Manhattan’s most famous skyscrapers, architectural landmarks, and beautiful urban parks. The avenue offers easy access to the famous Central Park, which is home to an array of attractions, including a zoo, theatrical venues, statues, and monuments. From the Jewish Museum and Neue Galerie to the Met and Guggenheim Museum, Lexington Ave is surrounded by some of NYC’s most visited museums. A public institution that’s part of the City University of New York system, Hunter College occupies an entire block along this avenue.
When you stroll Lexington Ave in Midtown Manhattan, you’ll see some of the area’s most luxurious hotels, such as the Intercontinental Barclay and more. Perhaps the most iconic installation on the avenue is the Chrysler Building. Completed in 1931, this Art Deco structure has dominated the Big Apple’s skyline for generations. The CitiGroup Center, Chanin Building, and Bloomberg Tower are among the tallest skyscrapers on Lexington Ave. The southern tip of the avenue is lined with Baruch College, the Museum of Public Relations, Gramercy Theatre, and an array of cafes.
In the 1830s, Samuel Bulkley Ruggles proposed some major improvements to the grid layout of Manhattan’s roads. This successful lawyer successfully lobbied for the development of a new avenue that would handle traffic going in a north-south pattern. The first section of the avenue was named in honor of Washington Irving, a famous author who spent most of his life in New York City. The remaining stretch of the avenue was named after the Battle of Lexington and Concord during the American Revolution.
By the early 20th century, Lexington Avenue had become one of the busiest roads in Midtown Manhattan. The first tracks of the New York City Subway were also laid below this avenue in 1918. Today, the IRT Lexington Avenue Line refers to several subway routes that run through most of the borough.
Layout and Transportation
The Harlem River Park marks the northernmost tip of Lexington Avenue, which accommodates vehicular traffic going southbound. At the intersection with 129th Street, the avenue leads to the Third Avenue Bridge that crosses the Harlem River and goes into the Bronx. Lexington Ave continues southward through the heart of the Upper East Side, which is one of the premier residential neighborhoods in Manhattan.
The intersection between the avenue and 59th Street is conveniently located near the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, which links Manhattan with Queens. Lexington Ave cuts through Midtown Manhattan and terminates at Gramercy Park, a historic green space that’s privately owned.
The 4, 5, and 6 trains of the New York City Subway make several stops in underground stations under Lexington Ave. Some of the stops provide convenient access to popular attractions on Museum Mile and other parts of the Upper East Side. For example, the 86th Street station is within walking distance of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Guggenheim Museum .
The 125th Street stop is one of the most important rail hubs in the Harlem district. Whether you’re driving in your car or riding in a taxi, navigating the avenue isn’t a major hassle in terms of traffic congestion and directional sense.