When most people think of New York City they likely picture the glittering skyline of Manhattan or one of the borough’s other iconic landmarks. From Times Square to Central Park to Rockefeller Center to the Empire State Building & World Trade Center, Manhattan is the beating heart of NYC so it’s no surprise that the city’s most iconic neighborhoods are located within the borough. Our in depth guides will let you dive in and explore the best of Manhattan’s neighborhoods, from their nightlife and entertainment scenes to their storied history.
The Best Neighborhoods in Manhattan
Take a look at the best places to live in Manhattan. Explore various areas and discover the nicest, safest and most artsy neighborhoods in Manhattan.
Battery Park City
With over a third of the neighborhood designated as parkland, Battery Park City is a tranquil community known for its lush greenery, suburban vibe, and scenic waterfront esplanade. The 92-acre neighborhood was built through a land reclamation project in the 1970s and has quickly become one of the most modern and luxurious communities in New York City. In recent years the neighborhood has benefited from the renovation and expansion of Brookfield Place as well as the construction of a passageway linking it to the new World Trade Center complex. While its abundance of green spaces and its stunning riverfront setting make it great for lovers of the outdoors, families, and pet owners alike, there are no subway stops within the neighborhood’s boundaries, and there is little in the way of nightlife. That being said, the nearest subway stop is only a 5-10 minute walk away as is neighboring Tribeca, with its posh entertainment scene.
An iconic New York City neighborhood that has historically been considered part of the Lower East Side and associated with urban decay for much of the 20th century, the Bowery has experienced a revival since the 1990's making it one of Manhattan's edgiest, most exciting neighborhoods. Its once run-down industrial buildings have been renovated and are now home to chic boutiques, cool bars, and popular restaurants. The area has quickly become known for its eclectic architecture and vibrant cultural scene, delighting artists and creatives with its street art, including the famous Bowery Mural, as well as venues like the Bowery Poetry Club. The neighborhood is also home to a vibrant nightlife scene with hotspots like the Bowery Ballroom drawing large crowds each evening.
Chelsea, which is located on the west side of Manhattan between 14th and 34th streets, is known the world over for its abundance of high-class art galleries as well as its sophisticated cultural and entertainment scene, stands at the crossroads of Midtown and Downtown Manhattan. All of this is reflected in the neighborhood’s architecture, an eclectic mix ranging from its historic 19th-century brownstones and townhouses to Chelsea’s luxury apartment buildings and its ultra-contemporary, glass, high-rise condos. Chelsea is also home to the High Line, an elevated park in the western part of the neighborhood which opened in 2009, sparking new interest in the formerly industrial West Chelsea area and leading to a wave of new residential development. The neighborhood is a popular one due to its prime location in the heart of Manhattan, world-class nightlife, and its uncanny ability to combine classic New York City sophistication, posh, and ritz with a more subtle and laid-back downtown vibe.
The East Village is a lively neighborhood, rich in culture and style, that has long been known for its amazing bars, trendy restaurants and vibrant entertainment scene, much of which centers around Saint Marks Place, the portion of 8th Street between 3rd Ave and Avenue A. St Marks Place has even been called the coolest street in the country by many journalists. The East Village is also home to one of the coolest parks in New York City, Tompkins Square Park, one of the cities best spots for people watching. The neighborhood gives off an energetic, unabashedly creative vibe that appeals to the many artists and bohemians who call the East Village home. The neighborhood is also popular with students and the under-30 crowd and is home to many student-housing complexes for nearby NYU. The East Village offers a fantastic mix of value, (mostly due to the fact that some parts of the neighborhood have limited subway access), and entertainment (thanks to its prime location in the heart of Manhattan and its hip residents and venues).
Long known as one of the world's financial hubs and as the home of Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange the Financial District (also known as FiDi) is quickly becoming one of NYC's most exciting up-and-coming residential neighborhoods. With a population that has almost trebled since 2000 (from 23,000 to 60,000), the area is quickly becoming a hotspot for New Yorkers looking for great deals on luxury apartments and a convenient commute as FiDi is one of the city's only neighborhoods to offer convenient access to both the east and west side of Manhattan. Most of the new residents are millennials, helping make the Financial District one of the best Manhattan neighborhoods for young professionals, especially NYC transplants. This influx of people and residential development has led to numerous new shops and restaurants opening in the neighborhood, most notably the Oculus Mall, Fulton Center, and Brookfield Place in neighboring Battery Park City.
Located in the heart of midtown Gramercy has long had a luxurious mystique about it. With its sophistication and grandeur, the neighborhood has attracted many famous residents over the years. Even the Roosevelt family called Gramercy home for much of the 20th century. This picture-perfect neighborhood is known for its stunning brownstones, townhouses, tree-lined streets, and its namesake park. Gramercy Park is the only private members-only park in Manhattan, one of only three private parks in the state, and requires a key for entrance. The neighborhood is home to many acclaimed restaurants and a lively bar scene that picks up during happy hour. With its central location offering easy access to the nightlife and shopping of Union Square and the Village as well as easy access to both the east and west sides of Manhattan, Gramercy offers a unique mix of exposure to the best New York City has to offer combined with unparalleled seclusion and tranquility which is ever so hard to come by in the city that never sleeps.
Known for its picturesque brownstones, tree-lined streets, vibrant entertainment scene, and the iconic Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, or simply “The Village” is New York’s bohemian capital. Residents and visitors alike frequent the charming boutiques, music venues, trendy coffee shops, and restaurants that make Greenwich Village one of New York City’s most iconic and beloved neighborhoods. Centrally located in the heart of Manhattan and offering easy access to both the east and west sides of the city, the area is popular among celebrities, with many calling it home. You may also easily recognize the neighborhood due to its being the setting of numerous films and tv shows including Friends, Mad Men and Sex and the City, among others. Also home to New York University and a large student population, the neighborhood has a youthful, creative, and intellectual vibe and is home to numerous art galleries and a bustling cultural scene.
Harlem has long been the cultural heart of Upper Manhattan, and is known for its rich history as well as for being the birthplace of the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural, social and artistic movement that took place in the neighborhood in the 1920’s and 30’s. This creative spirit is still in the air today as the neighborhood is known for its world class jazz clubs, art scene, and vibrant nightlife with the famous Apollo Theater being the neighborhoods most iconic landmark. There’s also a burgeoning culinary scene, with an eclectic mix of ethnic and fine dining establishments opening in recent years culminating in Frederick Douglass Boulevard being dubbed Harlem's restaurant row. The neighborhood’s great cultural and entertainment scenes combined with better apartment prices than the Upper East and Upper West Side, along with its convenient location with easy access to both the east and west sides of Manhattan have made Harlem one of NYC’s most exciting neighborhoods, drawing an influx of new residents in recent years.
Hell’s Kitchen is quickly becoming one of Manhattan’s most diverse and vibrant neighborhoods. Although its moniker comes from having been home to numerous gangs and mobsters for most of the 19th and early 20th centuries, Hell’s Kitchen is now known for its many restaurants, off-Broadway theaters, and colorful nightlife. The neighborhood attracts people of all backgrounds, offering residents a little bit of everything. Most importantly, the area also offers some truly exceptional values, especially when it comes to high-end luxury apartments. This is all thanks to the fact that Hell's Kitchen has experienced a residential building boom in recent years sparked by the extension of the 7 train and the Hudson Yards mega-development. The neighborhood is also known for its excellent culinary scene with the stretch of West 46th Street between 8th and 9th Aves being aptly named “restaurant row” and many of the city's most renowned restaurants being located in the area.
As its moniker suggests Little Italy has been at the heart of New York City’s Italian community for well over a century. Although the neighborhood is quite compact it's made a name for itself and is known the world over for its many traditional Italian shops, delis, cafes and restaurants, and its welcoming and lively European ambiance. Little Italy has also been the backdrop for many classic films including The Godfather, Mean Streets, and Leon: The Professional. The neighborhood is a fantastic place to grab a bite to eat or to sit back and enjoy an authentic Italian espresso while people watching from one of the neighborhoods many restaurants or cafes’ terraces. With dozens of Italian flags hanging from colorful buildings and its outspoken yet friendly ambiance, you will constantly be reminded that Little Italy is rich in history and culture, making it one of Manhattan’s most charming and vibrant neighborhoods.
Lower East Side
Edgy, lively and slightly gritty, the Lower East Side has a big reputation and is known for its amazing bars, live music venues, restaurants, coffeeshops, and nightlife. Originally a neighborhood of working class immigrants, the Lower East Side (often abbreviated to LES) has experienced rapid gentrification in recent decades, attracting a slew of new residents and businesses, and making the LES one of Manhattan’s most exciting up-an-coming neighborhoods. The always vibrant Lower East Side abuzz at all times of the day and gives off an energetic, creative vibe that appeals to the flocks of artists, students, and bohemians who call the neighborhood home. The Lower East Side has one of the cities best restaurant and entertainment scenes with the party often going into the wee hours of the morning. The neighborhood also offers fantastic value with its many pre-war walk-up apartment buildings being some of the best deals in lower Manhattan.
Morningside Heights, which is located uptown, on Manhattan’s west side, just north of the Upper West Side, is a neighborhood that is in many ways defined by Columbia University, whose open campus is located in the heart of Morningside Heights. The neighborhood maintains a college-town vibe and is one of NYC’s artistic and intellectual hubs, with students, professors, and other academics calling it home. If you're a laid-back New Yorker looking for a quaint, bohemian neighborhood to call home, Morningside Heights should be on the top of your list. Besides the wonderful cultural scene, other perks of living in the area include more affordable real estate prices than its southern neighbor, the UWS, convenient subway access to Manhattan's west side, and a bevy of parks and green space as the neighborhood borders Morningside Park and Riverside Park, while also being just a few blocks away from Central Park. As you might expect, Morningside Heights also has vibrant culinary and nightlife scenes, with numerous award-winning restaurants and a variety of excellent music, and entertainment venues.
Murray Hill is centrally located in the heart of midtown Manhattan, running from East 34th to East 42nd streets between Madison Ave and the East River. The neighborhood is only a short walk from many of midtown’s most iconic buildings and attractions, including the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Brant Park, the New York Public Library, and the United Nations. Murray Hill’s proximity to the UN, as well as its supply of historic pre-war brownstones and mansions, has made it an accessible and desirable location for foreign embassies and diplomatic missions. The neighborhood is also home to a bevy of casual restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, and sports bars, which, when coupled with the neighborhood’s abundance of tree-lined streets, historic 19th-century brownstones and verdant parks give Murray Hill a distinctive college-town vibe.
NoHo, which stands for North of Houston Street, is centrally located in the heart of lower Manhattan, between Greenwich Village and the East Village, and just north of SoHo (from South of Houston Street). The NoHo monicker is partly due to the neighborhood’s architecture, which is dominated by cast-iron facades and more similar to the architecture found in its southern neighbor, Soho, than in the villages. The real estate market in NoHo is quite similar to that in Soho, and can best be described as exclusive as it is amongst the most expensive in New York City. The market is primarily dominated by large open lofts and some newer condos and luxury rental buildings, keeping rents and sales prices high. Overall the neighborhood maintains a trendy yet unassuming bohemian vibe, making it popular with artists, intellectuals, and creative types. The neighborhood’s central location means you’re never far from the action as residents have unparalleled access to the fine-art galleries, chic boutiques, and world-class dining and nightlife Noho and neighboring Soho and the villages have to offer.
Nolita, short for North of Little Italy, is a compact downtown neighborhood that is rich in history and filled with European charm. Historically considered part of Little Italy, the district still retains much of its heritage and character and is filled with numerous authentic Italian restaurants, bakeries, cafes, and slaughterhouses. The neighborhood is also home to St. Patricks Old Cathedral, completed in 1815, and the former seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York prior to its move to the current St. Patricks Cathedral. In recent years, however, Nolita has been greatly influenced by its western neighbor, Soho, and northern neighbor, Noho, helping create a diverse cultural and entertainment scene. Trendy new boutiques, chic art galleries, and hip bars have popped up on the Nolita’s picturesque, tree-lined streets. The neighborhood's Italian roots remain strong, and Nolita (along with Little Italy) still plays host to the Feast of San Gennaro Festival each year, creating an eclectic mix of new and old in picturesque Nolita.
Technically part of Manhattan, Roosevelt Island feels more suburban than the rest of the city. Best known for its iconic tramway, idyllic green spaces, and riverfront lifestyle, this 2-mile long island with a population of 12,000 has transformed itself since the 1970s when redevelopment of the island began. Luxury residential apartment buildings now dot the island, and the growing population has resulted in a wave of new shops, restaurants, and amenities, most of which are concentrated on the island’s appropriately named Main Street. Slip away to the northern or southern tips of the island however to walk on the neighborhood’s picturesque promenade, taking in jaw-dropping views of NYC, or venture further off the beaten path to discover some of Roosevelt Island’s many historical landmarks such as 18th century Blackwell House, the lighthouse and abandoned smallpox hospital.
SoHo, which stands for South of Houston Street, has long been considered one of New York City’s most charming and desirable neighborhoods. As a former manufacturing center for over 100 years, Soho is well known the world over for its iconic cobblestone streets, cast-iron architecture, and industrial facades. This unique and dramatic architecture has led to most of the neighborhood being designated a NYC Landmark as the appropriately named SoHo Cast Iron Historic District. These imposing buildings are now home to some of New York City’s most beautiful art galleries, trendiest boutiques, and best restaurants. The shopping scene in the neighborhood is truly unparalleled, with many famous designers and fashion houses opening shop on the neighborhood's picturesque streets, leading to SoHo being dubbed “Manhattan’s Shopping Mall.”
Tribeca, which stands for Triangle Below Canal Street, is easily one of New York City’s most desirable neighborhoods to call home. A former manufacturing hub for much of the late 19th century and 20th century, the area has transformed itself since artists began to move in during the 1970s with large-scale residential redevelopment starting in the '80s. Tribeca is now well known for its many spacious, converted industrial lofts, luxurious boutiques, and trendy restaurants, as well as its posh residents. The neighborhood’s unique industrial character combined with its tranquil residential vibe (the neighborhood is mostly free of the tourist and nine to five-foot traffic that is so common in neighboring SoHo) and central location have made the real estate market in Tribeca one of the hottest and most expensive in New York City. The neighborhood is also home to the Tribeca Film Festival and is known for its many celebrity residents, luxurious vibe, and stunning views of the Hudson River.
Manhattan's Union Square neighborhood, which is centered around its iconic namesake park, offers up an eclectic yet dazzling mix of downtown cool and midtown chic. There's always something going on in Union Square Park, making it one of the coolest places in NYC. The neighborhood is located in the heart of Manhattan, sandwiched between Chelsea, Flatiron, Gramercy, the East Village, and Greenwich Village. This central location at the crossroads of midtown and downtown has made Union Square a transportation hub, providing residents with easy and convenient access to all parts of the city. The bustling neighborhood is also home to a bevy of trendy restaurants, hip coffee shops, and charming boutiques.
Upper East Side
As one of New York City’s quintessential neighborhoods, the Upper East Side has long been known for its luxurious real estate, excellent schools, and many affluent residents (over the years, many famous families including the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Roosevelts, and Carnegies have called the UES home). This exquisite neighborhood has it all at an upscale level. Posh streets from 5th Ave to Park Ave, with their grand residential buildings, upscale boutiques, high-end department stores, and charming restaurants; Central Park, Manhattan’s most abundant green space, where residents and visitors alike jog, picnic, paint or simply enjoy a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of the city; and the Museum Mile with its nine museums including the MET and Guggenheim. These are just a few of the many perks that have made calling Manhattan’s Upper East Side home so alluring for New Yorkers for so many years.
Upper West Side
Located on the west side of Manhattan, between Central Park and Riverside Park, the Upper West Side (often abbreviated to UWS) is a tranquil, residential neighborhood that has long been known to be one of New York City’s premier cultural and intellectual hubs. The northern part of the UWS is home to many students and academics as both Columbia University and Barnard College are located just north of West 110th Street, the traditional border between the Upper West Side and neighboring Morningside Heights. Many of NYC’s swankiest and most well-known residential addresses are in the Upper West Side, particularly along Central Park West. With unparalleled access to and stunning views of Central Park, this area has attracted numerous celebrities over the years, including John Lennon, Anne Hathaway, Keanu Reeves, Donna Karen, and Bono, among many others. The neighborhood is also home to many cultural attractions, including the Lincoln Center, the Natural History Museum, and the Beacon Theatre.
Washington Heights is located in upper Manhattan, north of Harlem and Hamilton Heights, and south of Inwood. The neighborhood is named for Fort Washington, a revolutionary war era fort built to defend New York from the British. The fort no longer stands, but it was built on the highest natural point in Manhattan, which is located in what is now Bennett Park. While that point is only 265 ft above sea level, Washington Heights is the hilliest neighborhood in Manhattan. It is one of the only places in the city where you’ll find step streets, the longest of which rises 65 vertical feet and connects Fort Washington Ave and Overlook Terrace at 187th Street. With its centuries-old history and unique character, it’s no surprise that Washington Heights has a thriving cultural and art scene. Real estate prices in the neighborhood are amongst the lowest in Manhattan, making it attractive to the cost-conscious as well as those who enjoy green space, something Washington Heights has plenty of as it’s sandwiched between Fort Washington Park and Highbridge Park.
The West Village is a primarily residential neighborhood known for its picturesque brownstones and tree-lined, cobblestone streets. Having a distinctly European vibe, the neighborhood offers up a never-ending supply of history and charm. Magnificent townhouses, intimate restaurants, trendy cafes, and chic boutiques abound in the West Village, a neighborhood that is almost entirely devoid of office buildings. Peaceful afternoons give way to lively evenings in this sophisticated neighborhood, as well-heeled residents take advantage of the neighborhood’s thriving entertainment scene. The northwestern corner of the neighborhood encompasses the Meatpacking District, one of New York City’s premier nightlife destinations. The Whitney Museum relocated to the Meatpacking District in 2015 and is one of the neighborhood’s newest landmarks. This area also marks the beginning of the famous High Line, a unique park built on an old elevated railroad, which offers residents and visitors a unique perspective on the city.