Geographically, the northern bound of Midtown Manhattan is commonly defined to be 59th Street; its southern boundary is less clear, and variously taken to be 34th Street, 23rd Street, or even 14th Street. Midtown spans the entire island of Manhattan along an east-west axis, bounded by the East River on its east and the Hudson River to its west. The Encyclopedia of New York City defines Midtown as extending from 34th Street to 59th Street and from 3rd Avenue to 8th Avenue.
In addition to its central business district, Midtown Manhattan encompasses many neighborhoods, including Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea on the West Side, and Murray Hill, Kips Bay, Turtle Bay, and Gramercy Park on the East Side. It is sometimes broken into "Midtown East" and "Midtown West", or north and south as in the New York City Police Department's Midtown North and Midtown South precincts.
Neighborhoods in the Midtown area include the following:
- Between 59th Street to the north and 42nd Street to the south, from west to east:
- Between 42nd Street north and around 34th Street, from west to east, and north to south:
- Between 34th Street and 23rd Street, from west to east:
- Between 23rd Street and 14th Street, going west to east and north to south:
Midtown is the original district in the United States to bear the name and included historical but now defunct neighborhoods such as the Ladies' Mile, along Fifth Avenue from 14th to 23rd Street; and the Tenderloin, from 23rd to 42nd Street and from Fifth Avenue to Seventh Avenue.
Important streets and thoroughfares
Differing demarcations of Midtown Manhattan
The border of Midtown Manhattan is nebulous and further confused by the fact that the term "Midtown Manhattan" can be used to refer either to a district or a group of neighborhoods and districts in Manhattan:
- The area between 14th and 86th Streets includes roughly the center of Manhattan; however, the term Midtown Manhattan can also apply to the area between 31st Street and 59th Streets, although there are still office buildings south of 31st Street.
- is located from 14th to 59th Streets, generally between Lexington Avenue and Eighth Avenue. Community District 5 is largely coterminous with Midtown but also includes the Flatiron District, NoMad, Union Square, and parts of Gramercy Park and Rose Hill.
- Midtown proper (within the boundaries of Manhattan Community District 5, and excluding overlapping neighborhoods) is located from 34th to 59th Streets between Third Avenue and Eighth Avenue.
- The "Plaza District", a term used by Manhattan real estate professionals to denote the most expensive area of midtown from a commercial real estate perspective, lies between 42nd Street and 59th Street, from Third Avenue to Seventh Avenue, about a square kilometer or half a square mile.
- "Midtown South" can refer to the part of Midtown between 23rd Street and around 42nd Street (although its northern boundary is defined differently depending on the source).
- "Midtown West" can refer to the area between 34th and 59th Streets, and between 5th and 12th Avenues.
- "Midtown East" can refer to the area between 42nd and 59th Streets, and between 5th Avenue and the East River.
- In 1982, the City of New York identified the "Manhattan Core" as the area that includes some of the City’s most populous neighborhoods, major institutions, parks and transit hubs, and the City’s primary Central Business District (CBD), defined as Manhattan below 60th Street. The "Manhattan Core" includes some areas slightly further north of 86th Street in Manhattan, as well as the area below 14th Street; however, this definition is problematic because it ignores the fact that Manhattan has not one but two zones in which people do business within this area separated by a wide swath of low-rise (by New York City standards) residential development — there is Midtown (which is in Midtown Manhattan), and the Financial District, (also known simply as "Downtown" because of its location in Downtown Manhattan). In other sources, these districts are referred to as separate central business districts.
The skyline of Midtown Manhattan, looking Downtown (south) toward Lower Manhattan
, in April 2017