Take a Free Tour of the New York Public Library
The tour takes only an hour, and it's a great way to see the highlights of this famous library, including the exhibitions and the Rose Main Reading Room and its 52-foot ceilings. The library is a National Historic Landmark, built in 1911 in the Beaux-Arts style, and boasts a carved marble facade. You can enter on Fifth Avenue at East 41st Street, walking up the steps between the famous stone lions that flank the entrance. The free tours start from the reception desk at 11 and 2 on Monday through Saturday, and at 2 on Sunday. Tours are first come, first served, and limited to 25 people.
Marvel at the Lobby of the Chrysler Building
The Chrysler Building, built in 1930 and located at Lexington Avenue and 42nd Street, is 77 stories of iconic design. Architect William Van Alen included gargoyles, eagles and elements representing radiator caps and hood ornaments. In a quest to have the tallest building in New York City, Walter P. Chrysler riveted a 186-foot spire to the top. But eleven months later, in 1931, the Empire State Building was completed, taking the title.
The extravagantly ornate lobby is Art Deco. The ceiling is covered with a mural by Edward Trumbull showing workers building the skyscraper, plus airplanes and abstract forms. The walls are African marble; the floors are Italian travertine. There are 34 elevators.
Whisper at the Grand Central Terminal
On the lower level of the Grand Central Terminal near the Oyster Bar & Restaurant, four entryway arches are arranged in a square. If you whisper into one of the corners formed, a person standing with his or her ear to the diagonal archway 30 feet away will be able to hear you loud and clear. This is despite the great noise of Grand Central, where 750,000 people visit each day. Your voice follows the curve of the tiled ceiling, coming back down at the diagonal archway. The Whispering Gallery is a popular place to ask for a beloved's hand in marriage.
Ride the Escalators Through Macy's
Even if you don't stop to shop, you'll enjoy checking out one of the world's largest department stores. Macy's is a city institution, filling an entire block with a 1902 Beaux-Arts building at 34th Street and Broadway. There are ten and a half floors of shopping, 1.25 million square feet of retail space. The top two floors still have escalators with wooden treads, almost a hundred years old. You might want to pop off the escalator along the way for a free beauty consultation or one of the specialty tours available, such as merchandising or the history of Macy's or NYC.
Stroll Fifth Avenue
Fifth Avenue starts in Greenwich Village at East 8th Street, near Washington Square Park, and goes all the way to Harlem, ending at West 143rd Street. As you walk along 5th through Midtown Manhattan, you'll see Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, Saint Patrick's Cathedral and many more iconic attractions.
From 49th to 60th Avenues, Fifth Avenue is dedicated to luxury shopping, offering some of the most expensive shopping on Earth. Upscale boutiques abound, along with flagship stores for Tiffany & Co., Henri Bendel, Prada, Cartier, Chanel and more.
You'll see some of the poshest residences on Earth along Millionaire's Row from 59th to 96th Streets. Late 19th-century mansions and classic luxury apartment buildings from the early 20th century were built to take advantage of the awesome views of Central Park.
The Museum Mile goes along Fifth Avenue from 82nd to 105th Streets and boasts nine museums. Among them are the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, and the National Academy Museum.
So… no worries if your schedule is tight! Midtown Manhattan offers many quick, yet brilliant, ways to avail yourself of its world-class attractions.