If residents can still enjoy concerts at Carnegie Hall or musicals at New York City Center or learn how to paint with watercolors at the Arts Student League of New York, other cultural mainstays have been lost. In 2014, the Rizzoli Bookstore shuttered its 57th Street location, while the longtime Lee’s Art Shop closed last year. Piano stores and art galleries, once prevalent, have also seen their ranks thinned. Uprooting some of those businesses have been high-rise condos called supertalls. Even in an already skyscraping part of New York, they stand out.
“We used to be able to see mountains up the Hudson River,” said Melitza Lev, 42, a resident of a four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath apartment on the 44th floor of a 1980s condo. “But my view has been ruined now twice. The park views are not blocked, thank God.”
In 2008, Ms. Lev moved from Astoria, Queens, into a two-bedroom in the same building that Dr. Ronald Lev, 50, her soon-to-be husband, had purchased in 2004 for $1 million. In 2012, the couple bought a two-bedroom next door for $1.5 million to create a combined unit for an expanding family, which now includes three children, ages 7, 5 and 3.
Ms. Lev, who once worked as a manager of hotels in the area, said that parts of Midtown used to be desolate at night, after tourists decamped for theaters or elsewhere. Today, once-quiet blocks are lively, added Ms. Lev, who now works as a marketer for her husband’s medical practice. “The neighborhood has become more beautiful,” she said. “And trendier.”
What You’ll Find
While an expansive definition of Midtown might include the Grand Central Terminal area and other enclaves, the district’s commercial heart is bounded by Fifth and Eighth Avenues, and West 53rd and West 58th Streets, say brokers, landlords and business owners.
A major artery is 57th Street, otherwise known as Billionaires’ Row, for all the deep-pocket buyers who call those supertalls home. Among the highest profile of the batch is One57, a 90-story tower from Extell Development Company that in 2015 set a record for the city’s priciest deal, when a duplex penthouse traded for $100.5 million.
Six years after sales began, however, it hasn’t yet sold out. And more supertalls are planned, like Central Park Tower, a 1,550-foot condo from Extell that will include a Nordstrom department store; Steinway Tower, an 81-story condo from JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group; and 53 West 53rd Street, an 82-story condo from a team led by Hines.
Attractive antique co-ops also dot Midtown, like the Osborne, whose brownstone facade is speckled with stained-glass windows, and Alwyn Court, whose sumptuous terra-cotta details include cherubs, salamanders and crowns.
Elegant rentals also turn up, like Claridge’s, a 160-unit red brick former hotel that once housed theater stars in town for extended runs but is increasingly home to families with longer-term plans, said Laurie Zucker, the vice chairwoman of the Zucker Organization, its landlord.
In an area where investors often snap up apartments to sublet them, rentals can also be found in condos like Metropolitan Tower, Museum Tower and CitySpire. These kinds of rentals are often used as pieds-à-terre, giving some buildings a transient quality, brokers and residents say.
What You’ll Pay
On July 27, 113 co-ops and condos were listed at an average price of $4.6 million, according to data from StreetEasy. The most affordable was a co-op studio with granite counters and parquet floors at Carnegie House, a postwar co-op, at $365,000; the most expensive, a four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath unit at One57 with granite counters and rosewood herringbone floors, at $52 million.
Despite a softening luxury market, average prices seem to be rising, though averages can be elevated by a few big-ticket deals, brokers point out. In 2016, of the 172 co-ops and condos that sold, the average was $1.88 million, said Jonathan J. Miller, president of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants. In 2017, in contrast, the average price of the 137 apartments that sold was $2.09 million, Mr. Miller said.
Most of the rentals listed on StreetEasy last month were condo sublets, which are usually pricier than typical apartments. One-bedrooms averaged about $4,600 a month, according to the website, while two-bedrooms were $13,000.
Greenery is somewhat lacking. Yet public plazas, like at the office building at 888 Seventh Avenue, offer breathing room, often enlivened by playful sculptures like the blue figure and silver egg at 1330 Sixth Avenue.
To bypass crowds, some duck down 6½ Avenue, a midblock chain of plazas and public lobbies that run from West 51st and West 57th Streets.
Cubicle workers in search of caffeine can avail themselves of no fewer than eight Starbucks coffee shops; for tourists, there are the Rue 57 brasserie and the opulent Russian Tea Room. Residents say their dining scene has vastly improved in the last few years, with such offerings as Quality Italian Steakhouse. Also energizing Midtown is Turnstyle, a year-old food hall inside the Columbus Circle subway station at the neighborhood’s edge; tiny restaurants like Bolivian Llama Party, with empanada-like pastries, and Blossom du Jour, with vegan fast-food, serve their dishes there while trains rumble underfoot.
A zoned elementary school is Public School 111, the Adolph S. Ochs School on West 53rd Street, just outside Midtown, for prekindergarten to fifth-grade children. In the 2015-16 school year, 37 of students met standards on state English exams versus 38 percent of students citywide. On math exams, 36 percent met standards versus 36 percent citywide.
Middle School 297, opening this fall, will eventually be located in Greenwich Village, though construction delays will force its first crop of sixth graders to attend classes at Middle School 260 on East 15th Street.
For high school, a public option is the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School near the neighborhood on West 46th Street. On SAT exams in 2016, average scores there were 410 in math, 415 reading and 417 writing, compared with 466, 446 and 440 citywide.
For those who don’t walk to work, there are numerous subways. The A, B, C, D and 1 trains stop at 59th Street/Columbus Circle, while the B, D and E trains are at Seventh Avenue. The N, Q, R and W trains can be found at 57th Street/Seventh Avenue; the F serves 57th; and the E and M lines are at Fifth Avenue/53rd Street. Buses are also plentiful.
From 1878 to 1939, subway trains clattered across the tracks above Sixth Avenue before being moved underground. And in 1945, the street was renamed the Avenue of the Americas, clearing the way for its redevelopment as an office district.
Studio 54, the disco mecca, pulsed at 254 West 54th Street, where the Roundabout Theater Company stages plays today.