The Metropolis: Must-sees in Midtown: Part One

Radio City Music Hall, Midtown Manhattan. Image: Flickr

Midtown—the aptly-named central section of Manhattan—is an exciting and vibrant area.

For instance, it is home to three major television networks (NBC, CBS, ABC), two major cable television networks (CNN and MSNBC), Times Square, and the location of the United Nations headquarters.

You can find some of the most iconic skyscrapers in the world there too, including the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and Rockefeller Center.

All three of New York’s major transportation hubs are located in Midtown: Grand Central Station, The Port Authority of NY & NJ, and Penn Station.

It also offers the finest entertainment venues in the world: Broadway’s Theater District, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, and Madison Square Garden, to name a few.

With an endless list of things to do, see, and experience in Midtown, we’ll take a closer look at just a few here:

Broadway

Arguably, one of the biggest attractions (if not the biggest attraction) in New York City is Broadway. Every year, millions of people pour into Midtown’s Theater District to catch a Broadway show. Whether it’s a long-running musical, a hot new hit, or an edgy short-run play, there’s nothing like seeing a Broadway show.

There are approximately 40 large Broadway theaters within the Theater District which runs along Broadway between 41st and 53rd Streets (and surrounding streets). These theaters present their shows every evening except Mondays, with additional matinee performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

From serious dramas to irreverent comedies, classic singing and dancing revivals to ground-breaking fusions of rock n’ roll and hip-hop, Broadway provides something for everyone.

Here are a few tips:

Get there early. Arrive 30 minutes prior to showtime to get through lines, find your seat, use the restroom, and get settled without missing anything (or disturbing anyone) by coming in late. If you do arrive late, be aware that ushers will not let you take your seat until there is a scene break.

Be courteous. Take as many pictures inside the theater as you want before showtime, never during the show. Turn off your cell phone and unwrap any noisy candy wrappers beforehand. Also, the actors and musicians work very hard to give each performance everything they’ve got; don’t be in a rush to leave before they take their bows.

Save money. Stop by TKTS in Times Square for fantastic daily deals on that day’s performances. Check out Broadway.org for family discounts, or get your child in for free (with the purchase of an adult ticket) every February on Kids’ Night on Broadway. Also, check with the box office for “obstructed view” or “partially obstructed” view seats. You might want to take a chance on these discounted seats as they are often not that bad.

Meet the stars. Do a little research prior, or look for the stage door (actors’ entrance/exit) when you get there. Sometimes the stage door is around the corner from the public entrance or even at the opposite side of the theater (on the next block over). Many actors will greet the public after performances, sign autographs, and maybe even pose for a selfie with their fans.

Radio City Music Hall

For nearly a century, Radio City Music Hall has been an integral part of American culture, history, and entertainment. Designed to offer the common man access to top quality entertainment during The Great Depression, Radio City Music Hall has entertained some 300 million people since it opened in 1932.

Its splendid Art Deco design—featuring fabulous chandeliers, art, textiles, woodwork, sculptures, grand lobbies and foyers, and a magnificent illuminated arched proscenium—is a scene-stealer.

Only performers at the top of their game could possibly hold their own against this gorgeous backdrop. Radio City Music Hall performers—singers, dancers, musicians, and acrobats—do just that and far more. The hall also hosts notable television specials, awards shows and sporting events.

Perhaps the hall’s most popular and beloved act is The Rockettes. This glamorous and talented dance troupe has graced the Radio City Music Hall’s stage since 1932. Every holiday season, a revolving cast of 80 women (36 on stage for each performance) delight their audiences with precision dance moves, fabulous costumes, show-stopping kick lines, and a living nativity scene with a procession of live animals.

Bryant Park

Nestled in the heart of Mid-town, Bryant Park is a wonderful urban green and recreational hub. Native New Yorkers and tourists alike convene there to relax, grab a bite, attend an event or performance, or engage in a little recreation. It is so popular and centrally located that it is known as “town square.”

While the land is no stranger to conflict (Revolutionary War, 1863 Draft Riots, Civil War), there’s nothing but peace and harmony there today. Here are just some of the things to experience in Bryant Park:

Lawn Games. There are many recreational games available at Bryant Park including ping pong, putting and kubb, pentaque, and table-top games such as chess and backgammon. The park hosts lively marathons and tournaments for several games throughout the summer

Leisure Activities. If games aren’t your thing, grab a book or magazine from Bryant Park’s “Open Air Library.” You’re welcome to read anything you like for free as long as you return it before you leave. The park also provides free craft and drawing supplies and instruction at certain times.

Classes & Kids’ Activities. There are many types of classes available at the park including yoga, dance, fencing, juggling and more. The park has plenty of things for kids as well, including story times, magic and puppet shows, and birthday parties at Le Carrousel.

Food.  From enjoying an upscale meal at Bryant Park Grille and the Bryant Park Café, to dining al fresco on the Southwest Porch, to grabbing a quick bite at one of several food kiosks, there are plenty of dining options.

Events. As if all of this wasn’t enough, Bryant Park sponsors many events and performances throughout the year. Some events include dance parties, concerts, bingo/movie/trivia nights, Broadway in Bryant Park, and square dancing. Don’t miss their annual Winter Village with unique vendors, an outdoor skating rink, and lots of holiday fun.

Look for the next installment in our “Metropolis” series to discover must-sees in Midtown, Part Two.