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10 insider tips for navigating New York like a pro

Will Gleason
Written by
Will Gleason

NYC may be a pretty straightforward grid, but that doesn't mean it's always easy to get where you're going. From hidden codes to handy mnemonic devices, here are ten useful tips for finding your way around the city.

1. Odd-numbered streets go west and even-numbered streets go east. Additionally, odd-numbered buildings are on the north side of the street and even-numbered addresses are on the south. (On a north-south street, odd buildings are on the west side, and even ones are on the east.)

2. The color of a station's subway tiles can tell you if you've missed an express stop. Seriously, there's a secret code hidden in the city's subway stations.

3. The address of a building can tell you what avenues it's between. For addresses on the the west side, just add the first number of the address (zero if the address is only two numbers) to 5 for the lower cross street. For example, 225 W 37th St. (2+5=7) is between Seventh and Eighth Avenue. For the east side, just subtract 5 from the same number for the highest cross street. So 150 E 18th St (1-5=-4) is between Fourth and Third Avenues.

4. Fifth Avenue splits NYC's streets between east and west. The reason the trick above works is because Fifth Avenue splits the east and west sides of the city. Additionally, addresses change by the hundreds every avenue.

5. Black dots on the subway map represent local stops and white ones signify express stops. In case you wondered why more trains were always stopping at that white ones.

6. Use the lampposts in Central Park. Central Park is gigantic and it's easy to get lost. But there's one easy trick, that will help you get your bearings. Most lampposts have a set of numbers embossed on their base that corresponds to the cross-streets you would be on if the street extended through the park. 

7. In most of Manhattan, the uptown train platform is on the east side of the street and downtown is on the west. Never waste another swipe again.

8. The major avenues in Manhattan alternate directions. From First Avenue to 11th Avenue, the traffic on every other avenue flows in alternating directions. The exceptions are Third Avenue which is mixed until 24th Street and then travels north, and Fourth Avenue which runs north before turning into two-way Park Avenue South.

9. A handy mnemonic device can help you remember the order of uptown avenues. "You can take a CAB back home it it's Late PM." is an easy way to remember that the avenues uptown are Columbus, Amsterdam, Broadway, Lexington, Park and Madison from left-to-right.

10. Google maps. In most cases, you will probably just use Google Maps.

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