Last Updated on February 20, 2023
When I told Jess, “I want to walk the length of Broadway,” she looked at me like I was crazy.
I know it sounded crazy, but I meant it. This wasn’t an impulsive declaration. Broadway splits Manhattan north to south 15 miles (24km), and when I looked into it further, Broadway actually runs through Manhattan, and then an additional 18 miles (29km) across the Harlem River through Yonkers up to the town of Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County.
What better way would there be to really absorb New York, I thought, than to walk at least the 15 miles south to north to the top of Manhattan, walk Broadway from its southernmost beginning all the way to the northernmost tip of the island? Along the way, we’d watch the neighborhoods, people, architecture and overall vibe morph and shift throughout the day. I thought this was an amazing idea, genius in fact. Jess wasn’t entirely convinced. Luckily our friend Jaime came to town and he thought the idea was as perfect as I did! So, that settled it.Spoiler: We didn’t exactly make it the whole way. We started from 1 Broadway at 10am and ended at 125th and Broadway in Harlem seven hours and 13.7km (8miles) later. Join us visually on our attempt at walking the entire length of Broadway:
Walk Broadway from Bottom To Top
Walking Broadway begins at Number One Broadway:
We started at our walk at the gorgeous statues at the grand entrance of the National Museum of the American-Indian south of Bowling Green.
The Financial District
We still bounced full of energy in the Financial District, past ornate buildings and modern skyscrapers, Wall Street and the World Trade Center. This felt ‘so New York’ to us all!
NoHo: North Of Houston Street
20-odd blocks later, and we ended up in Noho, an area of trendy lofts and great shopping. We may have slipped in to a few stores and shopped for a half an hour here and possibly bought shirts, shorts and shoes which we then carried 100 blocks north to Harlem. (We got a couple of great deals!) Plus we got some fabulous pictures of the wrought iron fire escapes and intellectual graffiti in this trendy area North of Houston Street (where the name comes from).
By midday Union Square is pulsing with as many break dancers as businessmen, and those poor survey takers jumping out in front of camera-toting tourists like us with their ‘excuse me, miss, do you have a a minute?’ line. The farmer’s market here is excellent, but we didn’t want to carry anything else.
Madison Square Park
Arriving here after hours of walking through New York, it was amazing how this part could feel like we had somehow now arrived to the quintessential part of New York City. Yellow cabs, traffic, and of course, the Flat Iron building, which Jaime and I spent ages here photographing.
Now a three hours in to our Broadway walk, we stopped for pizza and an eggplant Parmesan sandwich, ironically near Korea Town, as we knew, without a doubt, restaurant prices would double as soon as we reached the next section of Broadway:
I love Times Square, I’ll admit it. I am still wowed by the lights and the chaos and the fact that it feels ‘so New York’ even though there are only tourists here. For all those reasons, Jess can’t stand Times Square, but we had fun taking crazy photos of the naked cowboy and cowgirl and other oddities that you can only find here!
On Broadway…the Theater District
Surrounding Times Square is the famous Broadway Theater District, but we ended up being distracted here by a bit of New York drama. The platform holding two window washers, high up at the top of a building just off Broadway, split in two. A crowd of confused tourists (which we joined) stood and looked up, commenting, questioning and actually talking to each other as helicopters packed with news crews thundered overhead. We later heard they survived. The whole thing felt like a scene right out of a movie.
Central Park / Columbus Circle
It felt like a huge accomplishment when we finally made it to the corner of Central Park. I thought back past Times Square, the Flat Iron Building, Union Square, Noho and Wall Street, it felt amazing how far we had come and now finally we were getting to an area of Manhattan we hadn’t spent much time in…
The Upper West Side
The Upper West Side is where Manhattan and the scenes along Broadway slowly but completely changed. There were no more obvious tourists, the road has more trees, it widens out, the buildings turn into elegant condos and there is more of a calm, sophisticated neighborhood feeling. Our feet ached, time was running, and I had to accept we weren’t going to make it to the top of Manhattan. But would we make it to Harlem?
There was a bench where Jess and Jaime sat down, if just for a minute, to rest their feet. I knew we needed more of a break, but I was suddenly completely re-energized at just how far we had come. So I gave them my best ‘stern’ look and got them to their feet. Onward to Harlem!
Columbia University to Harlem
Unlike much of the walk which changed progressively along the way, the shift between the university and reaching Harlem was much more pronounced. Although this had to do with the time of day – rush hour had now begun and people were rushing back and forth in what felt like a frenzy compared to the sleepy feeling of the upper west side, there was a complete shift in demographics.
In the same way that the tourists began to disappear and we reached a more neighborhood-y vibe after Central Park, these last 10 blocks had a much more mixed population similar to Brooklyn than the whitewashed feeling from whence we had just come. Black, white, Latino, and hipsters pounded the pavement here to get home. As for us? Jaime and Jess hit a huge wall and got super giggly, while I was both sad that we still had 100 blocks left until the end of our walk and relieved that we could head home and finally have a nice cold beer after a long summer day out walking Broadway!
Walk the entire length of Broadway: TBC…
So yes, we failed. We didn’t manage to walk the length of Broadway. Not this time. But – there will be a next time! We will finish this walk from 125 St all the to Broadway and 220th and the Harlem River, so stay tuned for another photo post…
Friday 17th of February 2023
Great report! I’m planning to do Broadway probably in two chunks starting at north end. Too old to do it one day’
Saturday 18th of February 2023
Enjoy! :) It's much better to do it slowly anyway, because there's so much to take in along the way!
L. J. D'Amico
Tuesday 25th of October 2022
I've been planning a similar walk, but I was going to take the A-train to 207th and start there around 7AM, partly so I can see the harbor at night the Will Smith did in MIB. WHY DID YOU STOP?
Thursday 27th of October 2022
Why did we stop!! Great question :D Our legs were just really tired but I have now (ten years after our first Broadway walk) walked and biked the entire length of it. I like your idea of starting all the way at the northern end and making your way down to Battery Park! Enjoy the walk :)
Friday 1st of January 2016
Great story! I found the account of your journey because of a search for exactly this adventure. My wife and I are in training for the whole route from Marble Hill to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in one day. Waiting for the warmer weather and when the flora is in bloom. Thanks for posting!
Must-Sees On A Short Visit To New York City - 30Traveler
Monday 16th of September 2013
[…] If you are in NYC for only a few days I do think going on a tour of Manhattan to get your bearings is a good idea. You can then decide what areas you want to go back and take a […]
Saturday 17th of August 2013
I used to LOVE walking for a long time like this when I lived in New York. Don't think I ever made a trip as long as yours though! You must have had great shoes on haha
Thursday 29th of August 2013
I think there is no place in the world where we walk more than in New York! I just keep walking for miles and miles without even thinking about it because these walks are always what truly makes our time in NYC! Already excited about going back in October for another quick visit before heading back to South America :)