Asking for Directions in New York City

Busy crosswalk with people walking in New York, NYNew York, New York! New York City (NYC) is America’s largest city and one of the world’s great cultural capitals. It can also be a challenging place to get around for people who don’t speak English. While it is a big, busy city, there’s no need to be nervous when navigating NYC to find its famous tourist attractions. With a little preparation and a few tips from ALCC American Language, you can find your way around New York like a local!

Ask Politely

New Yorkers may have a reputation for being blunt, but they are willing to help people find what they need. Many people you see walking the streets were once new to the city themselves. When finding your way around NYC, don’t be afraid to ask directions. Use it as a way to practice English. Remember to be polite and say please and thank you, and you’ll find people willing to help.

Learn the Grid

Manhattan is the crowded, buzzing heart of New York City. Home to the city’s great skyscrapers, Time Square, Central Park, and also ALCC American Language ESL School. Navigating NYC around Manhattan is much easier with an understanding of the city’s streets, which are laid out in a grid.

The roads that run north to south are numbered as ‘avenues’ with 1st Ave. in the east all the way to 12th Ave. on the far west of the island. Crossing over the avenues, the roads that run east to west are numbered ‘streets’ with 1st St. at the southern end of the island all the way up to 228th St. near the Bronx. So, if you’re standing at 2nd Ave. and 26th St. and you want to get to the Empire State Building on 5th Ave. and 34th St., all you have to do is go three blocks west (to 5th Ave.) and 8 blocks North. Easy!

Navigating NYC doesn’t have to be scary! Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be finding your way around in no time!

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